Mason, now in his second term as commissioner, pleaded not guilty in Richmond County State Court on Thursday morning to charges of simple assault and simple battery arising from a Dec. 23 incident involving his wife at their home.
According to Sanders, Mason was intervening in a “potential disagreement” between Mason’s wife and adult daughter when the incident took place.
“A family potential disagreement … was escalating, and Mr. Mason stopped it, got in the middle of it and stopped it,” Sanders said.
The December incident report from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office made no mention of Mason’s 28-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. It indicated simply that Mason grabbed his wife, Velma, by the throat and “pushed her against the wall,” causing redness and a small cut on her neck.
Though Mason’s not guilty plea means a demand for a jury trial, Sanders said he hopes the matter can be resolved without one.
“Thinking of a wife sitting in a courtroom testifying against her husband, if there’s some way we can work it out, we will try to work it out,” he said.
The couple remains married, Sanders said.
Now in his second consecutive term as commissioner, Mason, a Department of Defense employee and retired soldier, has been eyed by some as a potential candidate to become Augusta’s second black elected mayor in 2014.
A special prosecutor from Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia – assigned to handle the case after the State Court Solicitor Charles Evans recused the office – was not present for Mason’s plea Thursday.