No trial date set for man accused of killing Vidalia teacher

Published 4:17 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2023

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VIDALIA, La. — A defense attorney’s motions for Matt Mason Jr., accused of killing a Vidalia Junior High School teacher, has pushed back the court proceedings until May 31 with no date set for a trial.

Mason, from Natchez, is represented by Eric James Talley, a public defender.

Assistant District Attorney Austin Lipsey said because he had just received the defense’s motion to suppress, he needed time to review and make any arguments necessary before the judge considers the motion at a hearing scheduled for May 31.

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A motion to suppress can prevent prosecutors from using some evidence, such as certain statements made to police officers or investigators in the case, in their arguments before a jury, Lipsey later explained.

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.

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

She had been employed by the school for approximately 14 years in the special education department and was loved by all of her students, said the school’s principal Christine Washington at the time.

Bell was also a key player in orchestrating Special Olympics activities in Concordia Parish, said local volunteer Ronnie Calhoun. During the 2023 Special Olympics at the Vidalia High School gymnasium, the games were opened with a special presentation of a memorial photo frame to Vidalia Junior High School in Bell’s honor.

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

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