A former Cleveland judge on Thursday was sentenced to life behind bars — with a "glimmer of hope" for parole in 35 years — for murdering his ex-wife in a gruesome 2018 slaying witnessed by one of their young children.
Lance Mason, 52, fatally stabbed estranged wife Aisha Fraser last November as she dropped off the couple's children for visitation with him in the Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights.
Visiting Stark County Judge John G. Haas, presiding over the case so Mason wouldn't be sentenced by one of his former Cuyahoga County colleagues, noted that Mason pleaded guilty to spare his children a trial. The couple's 8-year-old daughter saw the fatal stabbing unfold, prosecutors have said.
Mason had previously served nine months in prison after pleading guilty to a brutal assault against Fraser in 2014.
"While I respect your decision to spare them the trauma of a trial, it was too little and way too late," Haas said. "Where was that consideration when you subjected them to the vicious attack on their mother? We can only pray for them to have the strength to cope with, and to overcome, the trauma of that day."
Mason, a former state representative and senator before he was appointed to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, could have been sent to prison without any possibility of parole. But Haas threw Mason a slight lifeline, offering him a chance to apply for parole in 35 years.
The judge told Mason to use his skills behind bars to help fellow inmates. The convicted killer, in an orange jail jumpsuit and shackled at the hips, nodded his head as Haas told him he'd have a small chance to walk out of prison someday.
"I am hopeful that during that period of time, with that glimmer of hope, that you will take advantage of that and you will, in fact, make a difference in the lives of those people around you," Haas admonished.
Before sentence was imposed, the victim's mother, Millicent Fraser, got up from a wheelchair and slowly walked with a cane to the courtroom lectern to tell Haas that her daughter was an accomplished middle school teacher and active church member.
“Our daughter was a beautiful beacon of light and she loved her parents and her family. She was an amazing mother and a beloved teacher in Shaker Heights," Fraser said.