By Ed Runyan
Louis Mann, convicted of killing his mother and father, talked to jurors Friday morning in the penalty phase of his trial, telling them he will accept the death penalty if that’s what they choose for him.
“My life is your hands as the jury, and if the 12 of you decide to give me the death penalty, I will accept it and deal with it, because punishment is something that has to be given for this.”
In what Judge W. Wyatt McKay of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court called an unsworn statement, meaning prosecutors didn’t get to cross-examine him, Mann, 33, admitted that he killed Frances Mann, 53, and Phillip Mann, 59, and robbed them two years ago.
“First I want to say that what I did was wrong. I murdered two people. They were my parents, my mother and my father, and that’s something ... well, murder is something you don’t do.”
In the penalty phase, testimony is given to convince jurors either that Mann should be put to death or that he should receive one of the life-in-prison options.
Louis Mann said the memory of what he did is hard to live with.
“I’m sorry for what I did. I live with that every day. I know it may not be the same because they’re dead — they can’t live with it every day because of what I did — but it takes its toll. I think about it constantly, I dream about it.”
He asked the jury to spare his life.
“I very much so want to be alive for my daughters, both of them, [and] my son. I guess I’ll leave the rest of it in your hands.”
He thanked a Trumbull County Jail chaplain, John Russell, who testified earlier Friday regarding the time Mann and Russell had spent together in the jail over the past 18 months, when Mann accepted Jesus Christ into his life and began to tell other inmates about the life he used to lead and the murders that resulted.
“I do read the Bible, I do read the Scripture, I do talk to the other inmates, and the other inmates talk to me,” Mann said. “I mean, it’s a sad thing to say that they look up to me for advice because of what I’ve done, but it’s the truth.”
Russell testified that the way many inmates respond to Mann and his message in the jail is “powerful.”
“Louis kind of took a leadership role in digging through Scripture” and sharing it with the other men, Russell said. Mann’s comments on how he will never hold his 10-year-old daughter again or watch her play softball left other inmates in tears, Russell said.
One inmate told Russell “nothing ever pierced his heart as much as the testimony Louis gave,” Russell said.
“He’s very remorseful. He talks about it all the time,” Russell said.
Chris Becker, assistant Trumbull County prosecutor, called a rebuttal witness to the stand afterward. It was Phillip Mann Jr., 39, of the Middlefield area, half-brother of Louis Mann. They had the same father, and they lived together with Frances and Phillip Mann at their house on Parkman Road during summers when they were growing up.
Louis Mann was living with his parents at their home on Jefferson Street Southwest at the time he killed them — Frances with a clothesline, Phillip Mann Sr. with a Mag flashlight and a rifle.
Their growing-up years were “normal,” the half-brother said, and bath time was supervised by Frances Mann, not Louis Mann Sr., he said. That issue was a reference to earlier testimony by a psychologist who said Louis told him his father had sexually abused him at bath time.
Phillip Mann Jr. testified that he never had any concerns about his four children being alone with Frances and Phillip Mann Sr., and he never used drugs with Frances and Phillip Mann.
That was a reference to testimony by Tonya Mann, Louis Mann’s wife, who said she and Louis had smoked marijuana with Louis Mann’s parents when they were young teens.
Closing arguments in the penalty phase are expected to come Monday, followed by deliberations by the jury. Judge McKay advised jurors that they should bring a bag with personal effects with them Monday because they will be sequestered until they reach a verdict.
That means they will deliberate late into the night and possibly stay in a hotel if necessary until they reach a verdict.
While they are deliberating, they will not be allowed to use their phones, and any calls they do make during breaks will be monitored, the judge noted.