Executed Inmate Summary – David Edwin Mason

WARNING: The following crime summaries contain graphic descriptions of one or more murders and may not be suitable for all audiences.

david e mason mugshot

Name: Mason, David Edwin
CDC# C80300
Sex: M

  • Alias: None
  • Race: White
  • Date Received: 01/27/1984
  • Education: 9th Grade
  • Location: San Quentin State Prison
  • Married: No


  • County of Trial: Alameda
  • Sentence Date: 01/27/1984
  • County of Residence: Alameda
  • County of Offense: Alameda
  • Offense Date: 03/08/1980
  • Court Action: Affirmed
  • Court Date: 01/10/1991
  • Case #: 74687A

Victims: Names unavailable. Mason beat, strangled and robbed four elderly victims within a nine-month period. While being held in county jail awaiting trial, Mason killed his cellmate. In addition, Mason was wanted in Butte County for shooting and killing his male lover while the victim was sleeping.

Co-Defendant: None.


Mason beat, strangled and robbed four elderly victims within a nine-month period. While being held in county jail awaiting trial, Mason killed his cellmate. In addition, Mason was wanted in Butte County for shooting and killing his male lover while the victim was sleeping.

Victim #1: 73-year-old female

The victim knew Mason for several years. She had employed him for odd jobs and even had invited him into her apartment and showed him her alarm system, including panic buttons. On March 6, 1980, Mason took advantage of his position of trust, entered her home, choked her when she tried to escape to activate the alarm, robbed her, tied her up, beat and strangled her to death.

Victim #2: 75-year-old male

On August 18, 1980, Mason beat, strangled and robbed the victim whom he may have known previously.

Victim #3: 72-year-old female

On November 11, 1980, Mason strangled the victim and beat her over the head with a crescent wrench. Her vaginal tissue was cut and bruised.

Victim #4: 75-year-old female

On December 6, 1980, Mason beat, strangled and robbed the victim who had bruises and cuts over most of her body. Her clothes were partially ripped off.

Victim #5: Male cellmate at Alameda County Jail

With help from another inmate, Mason beat and garotted his cellmate to death with a knotted towel on May 9, 1982. He then hung the victim from a heavy shower rod in an attempt to make the murder look like a suicide.

Mason confessed to his crimes in a tape recording, “David Mason-Epitaph,” which he gave to his parents. When questioned by the police, Mason also confessed, providing details of the crimes that were known only to investigators. Mason later recanted his confessions and claimed he confessed because of his desire to die after his lover was murdered.

Then in March 1993, Mason asked the court to allow him to substitute his counsel and indicated he wished to discontinue any appeals filed in his behalf. The court ordered a hearing to determine his mental ability to make an informed decision. After reviewing statements from court-appointed psychiatrists, the judge ruled in Mason’s behalf. In June 1993, the case was returned to the Alameda County Superior Court who issued the execution order for August 24, 1993 the date requested by Mason.


Inmate 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.


Mason had four previous commitments:

  • Robbery with intent to commit murder;
  • Assault and attempted robbery;
  • Robbery with false imprisonment; and
  • Various weapons charges.

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.

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 under the pretext of selling and delivering firewood. Mason 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.


According to the probation officer’s report, Mason was raised by strict fundamentalist (Pentecostal) parents. From an early age, his behavior was uncontrollable. He set fires, cut and choked himself, held a knife to his infant brother as if to stab him, and assaulted other school children. His parents were harsh disciplinarians who beat him, locked him in his room, and subjected him to verbal and psychological abuse. At age 14, Mason was made a ward of the court.

Escape History

Mason was implicated in two, possibly three escape attempts from county jail. He was found with deadly weapons secreted on his person and in his cell.

Behavior on Condemned Status

Although Mason has no recent disciplinary infractions, he received five between 1983 and 1988:

  • 07/13/83 Possession of contraband (weapon stock)
  • 01/24/85 Attempting to introduce contraband into the institution (T-shirt)
  • 08/05/87 Flooding tier
  • 12/12/87 Force and violence (fist fighting)
  • 06/30/88 Throwing potential caustic substance on prisoner (cup of coffee)