By Ed Runyan
Jurors hearing opening statements Friday in the murder trial of Louis Mann in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court got the opposite of what one might expect from Mann’s defense attorney — an admission of his client’s guilt and the cruelty of his actions.
Atty. Gregory Meyers of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office said Mann, 33, killed his mother, Frances Mann, 53, by wrapping a clothesline around her neck eight times and did even worse to his father, Phillip Mann, 59.
“When you see those pictures, and the first time they are shown, there will be gasps in this courtroom,” Meyers said of autopsy photos of the injuries Louis inflicted.
“You don’t wrap a cord repeatedly around your own mother’s neck and drive it deep into the folds of her flesh just so you can steal her pills.
“You don’t take one of those big Mag flashlights and crunch your dad’s skull just so you can have his 1981 Cadillac. That’s not why this happened,” Meyers said.
Chris Becker, an assistant county prosecutor, agreed with the horrific nature of Mann’s crimes when he gave his opening statement.
He added that Mann shot his father in the head four times after repeatedly hitting him with the flashlight.
But Becker said the week’s worth of testimony that began Friday morning will do more than establish that Mann killed his parents Sept. 30, 2011, at their Jefferson Street Southwest home.
Becker said the crux of the case is to determine whether the seriousness of Mann’s crimes — two counts of aggravated murder and one count of aggravated robbery — outweigh mitigating circumstances that will be presented by his defense team.
Assuming the jury of eight men and four women agree that he committed the crimes, the panel will reconvene “in about two weeks” to determine the punishment Mann should receive, Becker said.
That punishment could be the death penalty, life in prison with no parole, or life in prison with parole eligibility after 25 or 30 years.
Meyers told jurors and Judge W. Wyatt McKay the defense will attempt to demonstrate that rage is the reason why Mann committed these crimes, though it wasn’t clear whether such testimony will come during the initial phase of the trial or during the punishment phase.
“There’s no question. These crimes were crimes of passion,” Meyers said. Two hours into an interview with Warren police a day after the murders, Mann admitted he killed his mother with the clothesline then “took out 31 years of rage” on his father, police said. Mann was 31 when the murders took place.
The rage was the result of the dysfunctional nature of the family and the way Mann’s parents treated him, Meyers said.
The trial will resume Tuesday after Monday’s Columbus Day holiday.