ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — A Missouri woman was sentenced Monday to 23 years in prison in the death of her husband whom the defense alleged she stayed with despite the relationship being abusive in part because both of them were struggling with their gender identity.
Jurors found 49-year-old Angela Mason, of St. Joseph, guilty in December of voluntary manslaughter and armed criminal action in the March 2017 death of her husband, 50-year-old Jeffrey Mason, but chose not to convict her of second-degree murder, reports The St. Joseph News-Press.
Prosecuting Attorney Ron Holliday said at trial that it was a “disgrace" that Angela Mason used the battered woman defense. He said she planned the death of her husband, sending texts to make it seem like they were arguing and creating an elaborate story that he had abused her, something only her daughter could corroborate.
Jeffrey Mason's son, Ryan Mason, lamented at the sentencing hearing that he wasn't able to say goodbye to his father, saying “it would have made all the difference in the world.”
Mason’s son, Shawn Robertson, testified that he believed his mother subsequently arranged for him to be shot because she feared he would share that she had confessed to killing her husband for insurance money. Robertson also said that Jeffrey Mason had threatened to tell the Missouri Department of Corrections that Angela Mason was bringing drugs into the prison where she worked.
Shawn Robertson, who returned fire in the November 2017 shooting, killing Logan Beems, is serving a six-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter.
Mason denied her son's allegations, saying she told her son that her husband's death was an accident and that she had nothing to do with her son’s shooting.
Dr. Marilyn Hutcinson, a psychologist testifying for the defense, told the jury that Mason stayed with her husband in part because they had disclosed to each other that they were struggling with gender dysphoria, a condition that occurs when the incongruity between a person's assigned gender and their gender identity is so severe that it impairs their ability to function.
Mason testified that when her husband dressed as a woman, he would take on a female persona known as Becky, and she would take on the persona of a male named Eric. Mason said that when her husband was unable to dress as a woman for long periods of time, he would become agitated, and at the time of the shooting, it had been five months since he was able to dress as a woman.
At the sentencing, Mason said she was sorry for her actions, and had decided not to file an appeal for a new trial.
"I pulled the trigger; I shot and killed my husband," Mason said. “I accept full responsibility for that.”
But she and her defense attorney, Bert Godding, asked that she be allowed to serve the 13-year sentence for manslaughter at the same time as the 10-year sentence for armed criminal action. The judge rejected the request in ordering her to serve them back-to-back.
Godding at the trial said that his client was “not a criminal mastermind" but “a survivor."