Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Will Larry Eugene Mann Actually Die for his Crimes?

Elisa Nelson
The Long Wait
Florida Governor Rick Scott announced that he has signed a death warrant for child-killer Larry Eugene Mann.  The murderer is scheduled to die by lethal injection on April 10th at Florida State Prison in Starke.
The following description of the crime and its aftermath is taken from court documents.  WARNING: The details are gruesome.

“Elisa Nelson was 10 years old and attended Palm Harbor Middle School, which was seven or eight blocks from her home. On November 4, 1980 Elisa had a dental appointment to have braces put on her teeth, and so she went to school late after her visit to the dentist. Elisa left home for school on her bicycle between 10:15 and 10:30. She had an excuse note her mother had written for her to explain her tardiness. Elisa Nelson was seen riding her bicycle on Nebraska Avenue toward 15th Street, the street on which her school was located, at around 10:30 that morning. Around 4:00 on the afternoon of November 4, 1980, Wendy Nelson called the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and reported her daughter missing. A deputy was dispatched to take a report, following which a search was begun. Elisa's bicycle was found that day, lying on its side in a ditch or ravine area a little bit north of the middle school. The search continued around the area where the bicycle was found until midnight, when it was called off. 
“The search began again the next morning, and Elisa's body was found around 8:00 or 9:00 lying face down in a wooded area next to an orange grove. She was fully clothed except for her sneakers, which were off to the side of the body. Her jeans were closed. There were several areas of blood within a few feet of her head, which was in a shallow depression. Her left arm was behind her back, and there was a piece of vine around it. The cause of her death was a skull fracture, inflicted by some type of blunt object. There was a lamp post or pole with concrete on the bottom of it about six feet from the body that weighed 45 to 50 pounds, had blood on it of the same type as Elisa Nelson's blood, and was consistent with having inflicted the injury Elisa suffered. Hairs consistent with Elisa's hairs were found on the pole, and on concrete chips recovered at the scene. It would have taken a great deal of force, similar to an auto accident, to have caused the injury to the skull. The associate medical examiner, Dr. Corcoran, opined that Elisa was still alive and breathing at the time her skull was crushed. In addition to the skull fracture, there were five wounds to the neck that would have been inflicted with a sharp instrument, and which Dr. Corcoran believed were inflicted first. These included a cut on the left side of the neck that was about four and one half inches long, and a cut on the right side of the neck that was about three and one quarter inches long. These would have cut the external jugular veins and gone into the muscle, but not to any significant distance. The other three wounds to the neck consisted of two smaller cuts and a tiny puncture wound.

“If left untreated, the wounds to the neck probably would have ultimately resulted in death; they may or may not have actually contributed to Elisa's death. One would remain conscious for a matter of minutes up to roughly half an hour after receiving the wounds to the neck, however, the blunt trauma to the head would have caused immediate unconsciousness. Elisa also had a recent bruise on her chin, which would have been caused while she was still alive, and which was consistent either with a blow or a hand over the mouth. Finally, there were four bruises on each of her legs, all of them less than an inch in diameter, some of which were recent, and some of which were several days old.
“On November 8, 1980 deputies of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office received a radio call to go to [Larry Eugene Mann’s] residence in Dunedin, where they were given a note by Appellant's wife, Donna, that she had found under a shirt on the front seat of Appellant's pickup truck. It was the note Wendy Nelson had written for her daughter to take to school on November 4. The investigation intensified at that point. The sheriff's deputies proceeded to Mease Hospital to question Appellant, who was being treated there as a result of his attempted suicide on November 4, but "there was no statements given.'' The deputies also secured a search warrant for the Mann residence and Appellant's truck. Appellant was arrested on the basis of probable cause on November 10. Two fingerprints found on Elisa Nelson's bicycle were identified as matching Appellant's known prints. A hair found in vacuum sweepings taken from the floor of Appellant's truck and hair from auto floor insulation removed from Appellant's garage matched the hair of Elisa Nelson. 

“Tires on Appellant's truck were similar to tire impressions the sheriff's deputies found in the area where Elisa Nelson's body was found. Foam rubber seized at Appellant's house was similar to foam secured from Elisa's body.”
Mann was sentenced to death on March 26, 1981, and later resentenced on January 14, 1983, and March 2, 1990.

Courts and lawyers have a way of subverting justice, so it remains to be seen whether Larry Eugene Mann will actually go to sleep on a state gurney.

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