Court

Houston attorney accused of slipping abortion drugs into pregnant wife’s drinks pleads guilty, sentenced to jail

Mason Herring, a 39-year-old personal injury attorney, pleaded guilty Wednesday to assault of a pregnant person and injury to a child. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation.

Harris County Criminal Justice Center
Lucio Vasquez/Houston Public Media
The Harris County Criminal Justice Center is located in downtown Houston.

A Houston attorney accused of slipping abortion-inducing drugs into the drinks of his then-pregnant wife in 2022 pleaded guilty this week and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation.

Mason Herring, a 39-year-old personal injury attorney with his own law firm, pleaded guilty Wednesday to assault of a pregnant person and injury to a child, both felonies, court records show. He will begin serving his sentence March 1 at the Harris County Jail, according to the Harris County District Attorney's Office, which prosecuted the case.

The child, an 18-month-old girl named Josephine, survived but was born prematurely and has experienced developmental delays, according to an attorney representing her mother, Catherine Herring. Court records show the Herrings were separated at the time of the crime and subsequently filed for divorce.

When Mason Herring was arrested and criminally charged in 2022, he was accused of putting a substance containing Misoprostol – a drug that causes cramping and bleeding and is used for medical abortions – into his wife's beverages multiple times over a period of more than a month. Catherine Herring told police she noticed a cloudy appearance to the beverages given to her by her husband and did not ingest them after the first time, when she almost immediately became ill with diarrhea and bleeding and went to the emergency room, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in court, which shows Catherine Herring suspected she had been given an abortion-inducing drug because of her symptoms and her husband's negative reaction to finding out she was pregnant.

Randall Wilhite, the Houston attorney representing Catherine Herring, said his client is “very unhappy” with the plea bargain and sentence given to Mason Herring. As part of his plea deal, a charge of assault forcing an individual to have an abortion was dismissed.

“This was a slap on the wrist,” Wilhite said. “Six months in the Harris County Jail and 10 years probation for seven attempts to abort your wife’s pregnancy doesn’t seem enough to me, not to a lot of people and certainly not to Catherine.”

The DA's office declined to comment on Mason Herring's plea and sentence.

Dan Cogdell, an attorney for Mason Herring, said he thought his client’s plea bargain was a “good deal” and challenged the notion the sentence might have been too lenient.

“This is a serious matter. I’m not denying that,” Cogdell said. “I’m certainly not unsympathetic to his wife's reaction, but this is a third-degree felony. This is not a capital murder. No lives were lost. No permanent injuries have occurred. That young child will go forward and I think be fine. His ex-wife will move forward and I hope be fine. And Mason will go forward and I hope be fine.”

After she became ill and went to the hospital after drinking water given to her by her husband on the morning of March 17, 2022, Catherine Herring saved subsequent suspicious-looking drinks to be used as evidence, court records show. She also used security cameras at their Memorial-area home to observe her husband taking a substance out of a plastic bag and pouring its contents into a drink he then gave to her, according to court documents, which show she also saw Mason Herring cleaning out his truck and putting trash in a bin at the curb.

When Catherine Herring later went outside to the trash can and looked inside, she found open packets of Cyrux, the Mexican pharmacy version of the American drug Cytotec, which contains Misoprostol as its main ingredient, court documents show.

"(Catherine Herring) stated that on April 24, 2022, she observed on the cameras that (Mason Herring) had cleaned out his truck and took the trash to the curb," the probable cause affidavit states. "(Catherine Herring) stated that this was out of character for (Mason Herring) as he does not do chores around the house."