By Ed Runyan
A Warren woman who smoked crack cocaine with Louis Mann at two separate motels in the hours after Mann purportedly killed his parents in 2011 testified Tuesday in his capital murder trial.
Mann, 33, picked up Atara Broadus, 28, of Warren in his father’s yellow Cadillac near Washington Street and North Park Avenue late Sept. 30 after asking her if she wanted to “party,” Broadus said. Mann then “flashed cash” in her face, so she got in the car and they bought crack cocaine and went to a Warren motel.
Police believe Louis Mann had killed his parents, Phillip Mann, 59, and Fran Mann, 53, earlier that night.
The two left the motel at 6 a.m. the next day.
“He actually told me that he did something wrong,” she testified under questioning from Chris Becker, assistant Trumbull County prosecutor. “He told me, ‘I killed people.’ I didn’t believe him at first.”
He drove her to the house on Jefferson Street Southwest where he had been living with his parents and showed her their bodies in the living room.
“His mother was covered” with a blanket or sheet, she said. “His father was, like, reached down in a chair, slouched down with his hand up,” she said.
Mann became emotional, she said. “Yeah, he did cry about his mother, but not about his father,” she said.
“He looked at me and he was like, ‘What do you think of me now?’” she said. “I was like ‘I don’t think of you as anything, but you need a friend.’ I hugged him, he hugged me back.”
Then she asked Mann, “Well, what happened, you know?”
Mann replied that his mom “tried to take my daughter away from me, and that’s all I have.”
Broadus said she became concerned about her own safety after that but still allowed Mann to pick her up later Oct. 1 to party with him a second time, this time at the Capri Motel on Warren-Sharon Road in Howland, where he was captured by police.
At no point did Louis Mann say the murders were the result of abuse by his parents, Broadus said.
Becker touched on that theme with Broadus and the second witness Tuesday, Louis Mann’s wife, Tonya Mann.
Lawyers for both sides said the question of whether Louis Mann was abused by his parents will be crucial if he is convicted of the murders and jurors are asked to decide between a life prison sentence and a death sentence.
Mann’s attorneys already have admitted that their client is guilty of the killings.
Jurors listened to a recording of the conversation that took place in the visitation area of the county jail Oct. 1 between Louis and Tonya Mann, in which Louis Mann repeatedly told his wife he had done something bad and was in trouble.
Tonya Mann was in jail at the time on a probation violation, and Louis was visiting her.
Tonya asked Louis numerous questions about why he had money, why he had new clothes, why he was driving his parents’ car, how he had acquired a cellphone.
He didn’t answer directly but showed her a piece of paper saying, “Mom, Dad gon” (misspelled) and made a slashing motion across his neck, she said.
Fearing what that meant, Tonya asked her mother to check on Phillip and Frances Mann.
Questioning of Tonya Mann by one of Louis Mann’s attorneys, Gregory Meyers of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office, focused on the lifestyles of the Mann family.
She had grown up near the family on Parkman Road and had smoked marijuana with Louis and with his parents, she said.
Louis took painkillers prescribed by a now- deceased Middlefield doctor for injuries resulting from accidents and football-related concussions, and they both became addicted to heroin as a result, Tonya testified.
Tonya described Fran Mann as “very” mean toward Louis Mann, but Louis was always “calm,” she said.
He was a good father to their three children, including the daughter they had together, now 9, she said.
Louis attempted suicide on multiple occasions, but at no point during those depressive episodes did he blame abuse by his parents for his problems, Tonya testified under questioning by Becker.