By Adam Ferrise
Former Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge Lance Mason, who spent nine months in prison for beating his then-wife in front of their children, is accused of fatally stabbing the woman Saturday morning at her Shaker Heights home, according to three sources.
Mason was arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of his estranged wife, Aisha Fraser Mason, at her home on Chagrin Boulevard near Normandy Road, the sources said.
The house where the stabbing happened is near where police reported that a Shaker Heights police officer was hit by a car fleeing a domestic violence incident. The officer, who was in his cruiser at the time of the crash, was taken to the hospital and his condition was unknown.
Agents with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are at the scene assisting Shaker Heights police.
Shaker Heights police did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment until more than seven hours after the slaying, when the department issued a release stating only that Fraser Mason had been killed and that her estranged husband had been arrested.
The refusal by the department to release details of the case in a timely manner continues the pattern of four years ago, when the suburb failed for more than 36 hours to provide its resident with an account of Mason's attack on his wife. More than 24 hours after the attack, then Mayor Earl Leiken refused even to to confirm that Mason was sitting in the Shaker Heights Jail.
After Mason's release from prison, he was hired by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson as a minority business development director. The city said in a statement later in the day Saturday that Jackson fired Mason from his $45,000-per-year job because of his arrest.
"I extend my deepest condolences to the family of Ms. Aisha Fraser, especially to her children," Jackson said in a statement.
Lizette Jordan, who identified herself as a longtime friend of the Masons, spoke well of both Mason and Fraser Mason. She said she wasn't aware of any issues between the two after the 2014 domestic violence incident.
"The only issues they ever had is when they argued about the girls," Jordan said, referring to their two children. "He really loved those girls though."
Mason in August 2014 punched his then-wife 20 times and slammed her head against the dashboard of his car five times, breaking her orbital bone.
The couple's children were in the back of the car when the attack occurred. Mason, who previously served in the state legislature, was a sitting Cuyahoga County judge when the attack happened.
Mason drove home after the attack. A family member reported to Cleveland police that he might attempt suicide, but Mason surrendered. Officers searching his home at the time found smoke grenades, semi-automatic rifles, a sword, a bulletproof vest and more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition from the home.
Mason pleaded guilty to felonious assault and domestic violence and was sentenced to two years in prison.
He was granted judicial release nine months later. Part of his petition for early release included a letter to Fraser Mason in which he apologized to her, asked for her forgiveness and said he deeply regretted what happened.
Mason wrote that he "failed as a husband, father, and a man," and promised that once he realized he was "broken" he became a better father and man, the letter said.
"My responsibility was to love and protect you," Mason's letter said. "Instead of loving, protecting and providing for you and our daughters, I have provided a terrible example, and exposed you to rage and violence."
Fraser Mason, who needed reconstructive surgery on her face, filed for divorce two days after the incident. The divorce case is still pending.
Fraser Mason also won a $150,000 judgement in a civil case after suing her ex-husband for damages after the attack.
Mason was barred by law from ever being a judge again. His law license was suspended indefinitely in December 2017.
cleveland.com reporter Robin Goist contributed to this report.
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