David Mason (murderer)

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David Edwin Mason
Born David Edwin Mason
December 2, 1956
Died August 24, 1993(1993-08-24) (aged 36)
San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California
Cause of death Executed in gas chamber
Criminal penalty Death
Conviction(s) Murder
Victims 5-6
Span of killings
March 6, 1980–December 2, 1982
Country United States
State(s) California

David Edwin Mason (December 2, 1956 – August 24, 1993) was an American serial killer who was executed in San Quentin's gas chamber in 1993. This marked the second execution in the state of California since 1967,[1] and the last execution by gas chamber in that state. Mason killed four elderly people in 1980, his cellmate in 1982 and is suspected of murdering his male lover.

The crimes[edit]

In July 1977, Mason stabbed a store clerk with an ice pick after robbing the store. He threatened to kill her if she called the police and testified against him. Mason was sentenced in November 1977 to 36 months in state prison.[2]

In March 1980, Mason assaulted and attempted to rob a victim who was returning home late at night. During the ensuing fight, Mason struck the victim on the top of the head with a gun. In December 1980, Mason gained admittance to the home of an elderly couple through the pretext of selling and delivering firewood. Mason then handcuffed the victims to chairs and robbed them of $47,000 worth of jewelry and coins. At the time of his arrest in February 1981, Mason had in his possession a loaded sawed-off shotgun and pistol and other ammunition. He was convicted and sentenced in April 1982. He confessed to these crimes and was sentenced in June 1982 to a total of 124 months in state prison for both 1980 crimes.[2]

The murders[edit]

In 1980, Mason committed four murders, one on March 6, one on August 28, one on November 11, and one on December 6, and a murder of a cellmate in 1982.[2] Mason was wanted in Butte County for the 1980 shooting and killing his male lover while the victim was sleeping.[1] He committed many other infractions. On January 27, 1984 he was sentenced to death. He was executed on August 24, 1993 in San Quentin's gas chamber.[2]

History of abuse[edit]

Mason was subjected to severe physical, psychological and verbal abuse by his strict fundamentalist Christian parents. He attempted to commit suicide at the age of five by swallowing a bottle of pills and setting his clothes on fire, the first of at least 25 reported attempts in the next 20 years. His behavior from an early age was uncontrollable. He set fires, attacked other children, and at the age of eight was found standing over his baby brother’s crib with a knife. His parents reportedly resorted to locking him in a room called “the dungeon”, a bedroom with the windows nailed shut. When he was 11 and defecated himself, his mother pinned a baby’s soiled nappies on him and made him wear his own soiled underwear on his head. On another occasion, his father allegedly strapped him to a workbench, gagged him and beat him unconscious.[1] Mason was diagnosed with PTSD.


Mason was executed August 24, 1993 in the gas chamber at San Quentin State Prison. He was the first condemned inmate to voluntarily waive his appeals on a federal level. The execution was scheduled for 12:01 a.m. At two minutes before midnight, a federal judge called the prison to verify that Mason's attorney was present should Mason wish to stop the proceedings.

At 12:05 a.m. Mason was escorted onto the chamber. At 12:08 a.m. Warden Daniel Vasquez stepped into the chamber, pointed out the location of Mason's attorney in the witness area, and asked Mason if he had changed his mind and wished to stop the proceedings.

According to Warden Vasquez, Mason said, "No Warden, I want to proceed; thank you Warden." At 12:09 a.m. the lethal gas was introduced into the chamber. Mason was pronounced dead at 12:23 a.m.

Mason spent his last day visiting with family members. At approximately 6:00 p.m. he was escorted to the death watch cell. Mason was given unlimited use of the telephone to converse with his family members. Mason refused any last meal, requesting only ice water while in the death watch cell. Mason told the warden that he had no final words to impart.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Paddock, Richard C. (22 August 1993). "Crime and Punishment : If David Mason Keeps Tuesday's Date With the Gas Chamber, a Life of Torment and Violence Will Have Come Full Circle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Executed Inmate Summary". California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 

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