Mason convicted of murder by strangulation of Vidalia Junior High teacher aid

Published 9:53 am Saturday, March 23, 2024

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VIDALIA, La. — Matt Lee Mason Jr., 45, has been convicted of the strangulation of a Vidalia Junior High School paraprofessional to death in her home in 2022.

The conviction came at approximately 5:30 p.m. Friday after a jury of 12 people deliberated for approximately one hour and 45 minutes following a week-long trial.

Austin Lipsey, assistant to District Attorney Brad Burget, prosecuted the case in Seventh Judicial District Division A Judge Kathy  Johnson’s court.

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Tyberia Bell, 50, was found deceased in her home at 605 Laurel St. on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022. Mason has remained in jail without bond since he was arrested by the Vidalia Police Department on Aug. 29, 2022, on a second-degree murder charge.

Her death stemmed from a domestic dispute between Bell and Mason, her ex-boyfriend, Vidalia Police Chief Joey Merrill said at the time.

“I would like to thank all of the hard work from my department and especially my investigators for their time, dedication, and effort in this case,” Merrill said in a statement. “We finally can provide closure to Ms. Bell’s family and our community. I also would like to thank the District Attorney’s office for their dedication in presenting this case to the jury. My continuous thoughts and prayers are still with the family of Ms. Bell, for I know she was loved by everyone!”

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 could receive up to a life sentence without parole. Sentencing has been scheduled for April 3.