Glenn Bernard Mann was pronounced dead at 10:30 a.m. on Friday at Nashville’s General Hospital after a battle with cancer. Glenn was 39 years old. He was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of an 62-year-old Annie Lou Wilson in Dyersburg, TN, in 1993.
Though inmates do sometimes get sick and die on death row prior to their execution date, Glenn’s death was a little different for me. Glenn and I grew up in the same hometown, Dyersburg, and we are–were–the exact same age. I don’t think Glenn was in my grade, though I can’t be sure. I was in school with many of Glenn’s relatives–siblings and cousins–but don’t remember him distinctly. However, my mother, a school teacher, remembers Glenn as do some of the other teachers who taught during that time.
But, everyone in Dyersburg remembers the murder. I was graduating from college the same year that this murder happened. I, a little, white girl raised by school teachers in a small West Tennessee town, did well in school, was given lots of opportunities to excel, and ultimately got a scholarship to attend Rhodes College in Memphis.
Glenn’s experience was different. Glenn, a young, black child raised in the same, small West Tennessee town, did not have the same opportunities as I had. His family didn’t have the resources mine did. He struggled in school. He ended up on drugs which led to the horrible crimes for which he was convicted and sentenced to death.
I am not trying to make excuses for Glenn. There is no excuse for the brutal rape and murder of Annie Lou Wilson. But I can’t help but think how differently everything might have turned out if Glenn had been given the same opportunities and nurture as me. Two children born the same year in the same town with such very different stories and yet, still connected.
Today I remember two lives that ended tragically and too soon. And, I am grateful that God’s mercy is so much bigger than all of the trauma that we inflict on each other or the tragedy we endure. I truly hope that all the lives that were intertwined with Annie Lou and Glenn will experience the peace that passes all understanding both now and in the days ahead.
Photo by Trey Ratcliff at Stuck in Customs
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