Death of an educator

Almost two years ago, Philadelphia’s education community was shocked to hear of the beating death of retired principal Ennis Manns in a West Philadelphia apartment.

On Monday, David Lawrence, the man charged with killing Manns, pleaded guilty before Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina in a deal with prosecutors that carries a prison term of 22-1/2 to 45 years.

Lawrence, 41, was scheduled for trial Monday but instead agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder and possession of an instrument of crime in the July 1, 2011, death of Manns, 58, of Elkins Park.

Police said Manns went to visit a friend at the apartment in the first block of North 50th Street in West Philadelphia. At some point, police said, Manns was introduced to Lawrence and both men began using cocaine. An argument ensued and police said Lawrence beat Manns to death with a piece of railing.

Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said blood tests confirmed that Lawrence and Manns had been using cocaine.

Lawrence, who has a fifth-grade education, said nothing before he was formally sentenced by the judge.

Manns worked for the Philadelphia School District for more than 25 years and was praised as a "passionate educator" for his work as an administrator at East Washington Rhodes High School, Edwin Vare Middle School, and Decatur and Bryant elementary schools. After he retired in 2010, Manns worked as an educational consultant for Universal Companies in South Philadelphia, owned by legendary music entrepreneur Kenny Gamble.