Chiropractor charged with poisoning wife released from jail
By Eric Fleischauer
For the Enquirer
Judge Charles Elliott needed no gavel to get the rapt attention of the shackled man standing before him and the dozens of others in the courtroom Wednesday as he reluctantly allowed the release from jail of a chiropractor indicted for poisoning his wife but warned him that “so much as a speeding ticket” would land him back in jail.
Brian Thomas Mann, 34, was arrested on a charge of attempted murder Sept. 2 and released on $500,000 bond Sept. 7 with conditions that included wearing an ankle monitor and surrendering his passport within 24 hours of his release. Mann failed to turn in his passport and failed to alert Community Corrections or the court that he could not find it, leading Elliott to revoke his bond Sept. 14.
“I cannot wrap my mind, Mr. Mann, around why you did not inform law enforcement that you could not find your passport,” Elliott said at Wednesday’s hearing. “… You didn’t tell a soul until you were prompted to do so by an officer of Community Corrections, and that was a week after the fact. I’ve tried to look at this from every which way and I cannot make sense of that. The only conclusion I can come to is that that is just a willful disregard of the court’s order and the court’s authority. A willful and blatant disregard.”
Mann, a Hartselle resident with a chiropractic practice in Decatur, appeared Wednesday on a motion to reconsider the revocation of his bond. Elliott is the judge in both Mann’s criminal case and in a divorce case filed this year by Mann’s wife. In the divorce case, Elliott has ordered that he pay alimony and child support, but after four months in jail Mann is $8,000 in arrears.
“I’m having to balance assuring your presence in court, assuring the safety of any potential victim or witness in the case, but also allow for your wife and children to be able to survive and have food to eat and have shelter,” Elliott said to Mann as the defendant stood between Morgan County Assistant District Attorney Joe Lewis and defense attorney Britt Cauthen.
“So here we are at the crossroads, Mr. Mann. The best way I know to assure your presence at trial and to protect the safety of all involved is to keep you incarcerated. However, I feel like that also punishes your wife and children because they need to be able to survive.”
At a hearing on the same issue Monday, Elliott declined to release Mann until the District Attorney’s Office received input from Mann’s wife as to whether she wanted him released or kept in jail.
“My question is, has the state received any input from the victim in this case as to the victim’s preference when it comes to keeping him locked up or letting him get out so he can pay child support? By me locking him up I’m severely inhibiting his ability to comply with my domestic order,” Elliott said to Lewis on Monday before adjourning the hearing for two days.
Lewis and Cauthen met privately with the judge for about a half hour Wednesday before Mann’s case was called. No reference was made in open court as to the preferences of Mann’s wife, although the District Attorney’s Office continued to oppose Mann’s release on the grounds that if Mann has hidden the passport he could flee the country.
“We still don’t know where his passport is. That’s the bottom line,” Lewis said. “… And the nature of this offense is characterized by deviousness and a willingness to be cold and calculating.”
Cauthen on Monday told the judge that Mann’s financial situation was even more bleak because he previously was receiving rental income from a tenant in his Sixth Avenue chiropractic office, but the pipes froze and the office flooded late last month, causing the tenant to leave.
While Elliott ultimately granted Mann’s request to be released from jail on $500,000 bond — jail records show he was released at 4:22 p.m. Wednesday — the judge did so with numerous conditions.
‘Wake me up’
Mann will have to return to jail every weekend from 4 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Monday. On weekdays, he is not permitted to leave his house after 6 p.m. or before 8 a.m., compliance with which will be ensured through a GPS ankle monitor.
“If you tamper with your ankle monitor in any way, they’ll get an alert,” Elliott said to Mann.
He then turned to Community Corrections officers in the courtroom. “If (the alert sounds) at 2 in the morning, call me. Wake me up and I will wake up every soul in law enforcement on the face of the Earth: police, Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Marshals Office. I’ve got their numbers; I’ll call them and tell them to find you and bring you before me.”
Another condition of Mann’s release on bond is that he have no contact with his wife. Elliott was especially adamant about this.
“Don’t do anything that would make me or some other judge think that you tried to make contact. If you’re out and you go grocery shopping and her grocery is Kroger, you go to Walmart.”
Mann is also subject to random drug screens and is prohibited from possessing alcohol.
According to his wife’s complaint for divorce, Mann poisoned her by “intentionally causing her to unwittingly ingest particles of lead,” leading to her hospitalization at UAB from Jan. 18 to March 3. Mann has denied the allegation.
In written questions submitted July 14 in the divorce case, Mann was asked to describe the contents of “the dietary supplement you provided to your wife during the late summer of 2021 through the winter of 2021-2022.”
Mann was also asked to admit that he held five life insurance policies payable upon his wife’s death that collectively had death benefits of $1.3 million. He was additionally asked to admit that on Dec. 4, 2021, he applied for two different $750,000 life insurance policies payable upon his wife’s death, both of which applications were denied.
The judge on Wednesday scheduled Mann’s jury trial for Oct. 23.
Mann is listed as having a current chiropractic license with the Alabama State Board of Chiropractic Examiners. The former executive director said on Sept. 29 that there was an ongoing investigation into Mann’s situation. The current executive director, Amy Deavers, on Wednesday said the same.
“It’s pretty much the same as it was before. It’s still an ongoing investigation. I can’t speak on an ongoing investigation,” she said.
Under state law, the board can initiate license suspension procedures for various violations including immoral conduct, unprofessional conduct, patient abandonment or a felony conviction.