Summit County judge rules Earl Mann can represent himself in capital trial

7:22 PM, Jan 9, 2008   |    comments
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Mann is accused of killing Judith Johnson and raping her granddaughter in 1998. "I pretty much feel that I got myself into this mess by talking to investigators in this case," Mann told Judge Shapiro about defending himself. "I believe I should get myself out of it and if not, I'm the one that has to suffer the consequences." The crimes are those for which Clarence Elkins was originally tried, convicted, and sent to prison. Elkins had served nearly 8 years in prison before he was able to prove his own innocence and gaining his release. Elkins was Johnson's son-in-law. "Earl Mann has pretty much stolen seven-and-a-half years of my life," Elkins said as he sat in the courtroom. "Not only mine but my entire family's and I'm just here to see that justice is done." Elkins and Mann were imprisoned together. Elkins collected DNA evidence from a discarded cigarette butt from Mann. Testing on the cigarette linked Mann to the crimes. Elkins sat with his two sons, Brandon and Clarence, as well as his now ex-wife Melinda, who worked tirelessly to free Clarence and find her mother's killer. "We haven't forgotten what he did," she says. "We stand behind my mother, first of all, and my neice and Clarence's wrongful conviction and let him know, we're not going away." Mann was already serving time for raping his own daughters, so his DNA was in the state's database. At the time of Johnson's murder, Mann was dating a woman who lived just two doors down from the murder scene in Barberton. Mann's trail starts in May.

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