Court proceedings for Vidalia teacher’s murder to be continued in May

Published 12:25 pm Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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NATCHEZ — A trial of motions for Matt Mason Jr., 43, accused of strangling a Vidalia Junior High School paraprofessional and killing her at her home, is scheduled for a trial of motions at 9:30 a.m. on May 17 in the Seventh Judicial District Court of Concordia Parish.

Judge Kathy Johnson of Division A is overseeing the court proceedings.

Tyberia Bell, 50, was found deceased in her home at 605 Laurel St. on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022.

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Authorities believe her death stemmed from a domestic dispute between Bell and Mason, her ex-boyfriend.

Bell was employed by the school for approximately 14 years in the special education department and was loved by all of her students, according to the school’s principal Christine Washington.

Mason, who is from Natchez, appeared in court Wednesday still in jail clothes, represented by attorney Eric James Talley, a public defender.

He has remained in jail without bond since he was arrested in August 2022 on a second-degree murder charge.

Talley said Wednesday that state prosecutors had just presented him with an external hard drive with evidence pertinent to Mason’s case, including hours of video footage from the street around the home, that would take time to review.

The matter has been set for May 17, giving Mason’s legal representative time to review the footage and make any pre-trial motions. Assistant District Attorney Austin Lipsey agreed with the extension.

If convicted, Mason could receive up to a life sentence without parole.