The verdict is in! The jury is recommending that Louis Mann "serve the rest of his life behind bars for murdering his parents two years ago." This was met with varied reactions, for some wanted the death penalty, which would have been warranted; others wanted imprisonment with possibility of parole in 25-30 years. Two "expert" psychologists with faulty evidence tried the "mental illness" and insanity route. But the jury spoke.
Some two years ago, I wrote a Tribune column called "Life is Fragile, Handle with Care." My thoughts were instigated by the above incident where the precious lives of Philip and Frances Mann were brutally snuffed out by their rebellious son. In a "fit of rage," he strangled his mother with a clothesline, and "took 31 years of rage out" on his father's head with a flashlight. My concern at the time was that true justice be served for this horrendous crime, without being explained away by the "mental health" profession. I said the following:
"Let's put the blame where it belongs. May the court have clear wisdom, and may there be proper closure, especially for a grieving family. Moreover, may we be spared from the defense's attempt to blame the deceased parents or society for some imperfection which would justify such a travesty."
Interestingly, that's exactly what happened, propounded by two "psychologists" who didn't know the parents, and on hearsay tried the "sex molestation card" to excuse the defendant. They were willing to accuse and slander the deceased parents who could not defend themselves. I guess, that's what they got paid for - that's shameful! Thankfully, both Trumbull County Prosecutors Chris Becker and Gabe Wildman, challenged the disingenuous findings of these psychologists; Wildman questioned the validity of Dr. Fradkin's fees, while Becker took issue with the well-worn "mental illness" defense; he later commented, "I do remember when a sin was a sin and not a psychological disorder." Good for him!
In my opinion, this case was a judicial victory. Of course there's no way to undo what's happened; it's done. But there's some redeeming value to consider. I commend Judge W. Wyatt McKay for his leadership and expertise in seeing this case through. How blessed we are in this Warren community to have judges that truly deserve the title "Your Honor." Hats off to the prosecution team who diligently pursued justice and closure. It's good to know that we have prosecutors with integrity and tenacity, who are dedicated to finding truth. As lawlessness and rebellion continue to rise in our country, effective and fair verdicts of justice will become more difficult and sparse.
That leads me to Mr. Louis Mann himself. While in no way excusing his hideous crime, I must commend him for "manning up" to what he did. When I previously addressed this crime, I thought Louis would take the "not guilty" plea, and lay that extra forensic burden on the court. After all, who pleads "guilty" anymore for anything? At least, he faced the situation and verdict squarely. He told the court that before killing his parents, he was a "druggie, a loser, and a bad father." Some would use that testimony to explain or justify his crime; but those actions were his fault, no one else's; they were results of sinful behavior, rather than causes; like bad fruit growing on a tree with bad roots. Evidently Mr. Mann faced this situation for what it was, and found the remedy for his sinful condition.
After jail Chaplain John Russell's report on Mann's "Christian conversion," I can hear someone saying, "Yeah, he got that 'jailhouse religion.'" The inference being that it's a phony "escape hatch from Hell." But in reading Russell's account, there seems to be a serious "turn-around" in Mann; other inmates testify that Louis is not a "holy-roller," but a serious Bible student, demonstrating new "fruit." It must be said, that Mann has no intent of "escaping" jail time, but expects the worse. "I'm never going to be free. I'll be in a cell 23 hours a day until I get executed," he said. His personal sin is forgiven in Christ; his debt to society for his crime must still be paid.
One might ask, "Does God forgive murderers?" The Cross of Christ covers all sin, evidenced by the criminal who hanged beside him. That thief cried out for the Lord's forgiveness and salvation, but still paid for his crime by crucifixion (death). (cf. Luke 23) The potential sin of murder lurks in every human heart; but acting it out makes it a crime or civil offense. Mann's internal "rage" (sin) was manifested openly in the act of killing his parents. That constituted a crime, thus being subject to the appropriate penalty of the law.
Interestingly, Mr. Mann's inner sense of conviction, along with God's forgiveness, has inspired him to pay the price for his horrible crime. Hopefully Louis will experience inner "freedom," while imprisoned for many years in a tiny prison cell. Irreparable damage and heartache still remain, but, thankfully, justice has been served.
Finnigan is a Howland resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org