Albany man pleads guilty to vicious sword attack

The man who walked into an Albany homeless shelter last August and attacked a shelter worker with a sword entered a guilty plea in court on Friday afternoon.

Randell Mason, 42, accepted a plea deal when he stood before Judge Roger McDonough. He pleaded to attempted second-degree murder. He’s expected to receive 25 years in prison when he’s sentenced on April 7.

[anvplayer video=”5162072″ station=”998132″]

Mason inflicted serious injuries to Jon Romano in a homeless shelter on Sheridan Avenue on Aug. 29.

An Albany County grand jury indicted Mason on charges of attempted first-degree murder, along with second-degree attempted murder, and first-degree assault. The indictment stated that Mason tried to cause Romano’s death and acted “in an especially cruel and wanton manner” in actions intended to “inflict torture.”

Romano was already well known to Capital Region residents. He walked into Columbia High School at age 16 in 2004, and fired a shotgun at students and faculty. He then spent nearly two decades in prison.

However, Romano has since turned his life around. He has been crusading for more resources to address mental health issues.

“Obviously, we want to be proactive in helping people before they ever commit a crime,” Romano said outside the courtroom following Mason’s guilty plea. “We also have to be reactive in helping people once they have committed a crime when they’re in the prison system.”

Romano doesn’t just talk the talk, he also walked the cell block corridors, convicted of bringing a shotgun into Columbia High School back in 2004 and firing at students and staff.

The redemption from mental health demons he was able to overcome is what he now wishes for his attacker.

“The goal here is not revenge,” Romano asserted. “The goal here is not just lock him away for the rest of his life. The goal here is that he can be punished in a way but also rehabilitated in a way so that he once again has a chance at life.”

The plea arrangement has Mason serving a determinant 25 year prison sentence, which means he’ll be released in 2048.

“He’ll be in his 60s when he comes home and if he does turn his life around, and he is able to be somewhat successful reintegrating into society, yeah, I would be happy with that,” Romano said.

After regaining his mental health status, Romano now wishes himself a continued physical recovery from horrific injuries.

“My legs have progressed quite well,” he said, “I’m in physical therapy. There wasn’t severe nerve damage to my legs so that’s why I’m able to do well, but unfortunately with my hands, the nerves were severed in the attack as well as my ligaments and tendons.”

Romano says he intends to deliver a victim impact statement at Mason’s sentencing, scheduled for April 7.