Jury rejects death penalty for Mann

WARREN – Louis Mann finally smiled and expressed relief while hugging one of his defense attorneys after a jury spent less than three hours Monday returning a verdict recommending he serve the rest of his life behind bars for murdering his parents two years ago.

”We’re grateful the jury spared his life,” said defense attorney Greg Meyers.

”We respect the jury’s decision. We’ve said all along it (the penalty) was something the jury should decide,” said assistant prosecutor Chris Becker, who tried to convince the eight men and four women earlier in the day to send Mann to death row.

”I do remember though when a sin was a sin and not a psychological disorder,” Becker said, taking a jab at two psychologists who testified as experts in Mann’s behalf last week.

Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay set Nov. 26 at 1:30 p.m. as a sentencing hearing for Mann, 33, of Warren.

McKay will most likely adopt the jury’s recommendation instead of exercising any option to lessen the sentence to possible parole after 25 or 30 years.

One of the men on the jury said the panel was divided 6-6 and then 8-4 in favor of recommending death. ”We talked about it and decided not to drag it out any further,” he said.

All the jurors were instructed by McKay to bring overnight bags in case they were sequestered in the Best Western Park Hotel where 15 rooms had been reserved. The jurors also had to turn in their cell phones when they started deliberations.

Mann strangled his mother, Frances M. Mann, 53, with a clothesline and shot his father, Philip J. Mann Sr., 59, with a .22 caliber rifle after beating him to death with a flashlight Sept. 30, 2011.

He drained his parents’ bank account of $1,400 and spent it on drugs, a prostitute and motel rooms before he was arrested within two days and confessed to the murders to Warren detectives.

Philip J. Mann Jr. of Geauga County said ”Justice has been served. The jury spoke.”

Shelley Tuttle, Mann Sr.’s niece who now lives in North Carolina, said she would rather have seen the death penalty recommended.

”We heard the lies and we saw the (confession) tape. She said jurors weren’t given the whole truth by the defense team of Meyers and attorneys Matt Pentz and David Rouzzo. She said they inaccurately portrayed Mrs. Mann as being hateful toward the defendant when he was growing up.

The defense also used the two psychological experts to support Mann’s claim that he was sexually abused by his father at age 8 when, he said, he was forced to bathe with his father.

But Mann said little on Friday when he delivered an unsworn statement in court, stressing instead his Bible studies and plans to continue the religious work in prison the rest of his life, possibly reducing recidivism among inmates.

He told the jury he was was not a monster, but admitted being a drug addict and a poor father.

”He ought to be punished, not killed by the government. He did these terrible deeds. But I’ve watched the government kill clients. It’s real,” Meyers told jurors in his closing arguments Monday morning.

Becker, meanwhile, told jurors to ”speak for justice today.”

He called Mann nothing but a liar and said every mitigating factor that the defense said countered the aggravated circumstances of the murder was based on only what Mann said.

Becker pointed out how Mann cried when detectives first told him his parents were murdered. He first tried to say his dad killed his mom and he intervened. Then he said the prostitute he picked up killed his parents and she tried to convince him to burn down their Jefferson Street S.W. home to cover up the murders.

Before smiling at the verdict read by McKay, Mann also smiled when deputies walked him across High Street N.W. to hear the decision. When he reached the curb in front of the courthouse, the defendant and deputies found it amusing when a man on a motorcycle was transporting two dogs on the rear of the cycle in a cardboard box fastened to the two-wheeler with bungee cords.