In June 1998, Judith Johnson was beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted in her home. Her 6-year-old granddaughter, Brooke, who was spending the night, was also assaulted but survived. When she ran to a neighbor’s house for help, she told them the man looked like her Uncle Clarence. She meant Clarence Elkins, son-in-law of Judith Johnson. Unbeknownst to Brooke, inside the neighbor’s house was Earl Mann, the man who raped her and killed her grandmother.
When Mann’s wife, Tonia Brasiel, opened the door, she told the 6-year-old to wait on the porch. Brasiel said she was making breakfast for her children. Brooke waited approximately 45 minutes before Brasiel came outside and took her home. When Mann was identified as the rapist and murderer, Brasiel admitted that Mann told her not to let the child in or to call police. Brasiel testified at Elkins’ trial that Brooke told her her Uncle Clarence was the perpetrator. Although there was no physical evidence linking him to the crimes, Elkins was sentenced to life in prison. While Elkins was in jail, Mann was convicted of raping three girls, his daughters, all under the age of 10. When Mann was sent to the same prison as Elkins, Elkins was able to prove with DNA (Mann’s cigarette butt) his innocence. Mann pled guilty and after nearly seven years in prison, Elkins was released in 2005. 48 Hours Hard Evidence on TLC will air its report “Star Witness” on February 22 at 8pm.