Steel Notes Magazine September 2016 - Page 27

www.steelnotesmagazine.com Steel Notes Magazine The prosecution’s case provided an example of how the U.S. Supreme Court’s Aranda ruling is applied in cases involving multiple defendants. The trial was one of the longest and costliest in California history. Prison inmates similarly told authorities that their cellmate Susan Atkins had described to them in horrifying detail how she and fellow members of the “Family” had killed Tate and her guests, the LaBiancas, and others. In return for a promise of immunity, Atkins repeated her story to a grand jury in December 1969, implicating Manson and others in the Tate- LaBianca killings. Ironically, Manson was already in jail. He had been arrested in October and charged with receiving stolen property. “Family” members Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten were indicted on murder charges and arrested. Charles “Tex” Watson, whose bloody fingerprint was found at the Tate house, was arrested at his parents’ home in Texas. Watson’s attorney forestalled his extradition for nine months, arguing that pretrial publicity made it impossible for Watson to get a fair trial in California. The Los Angeles district attorney decided to prosecute the others charged in the Tate-LaBianca slayings without waiting for Watson’s arrival. Prosecutors lost Atkins’ cooperation in March 1970, three months before the case came to trial. After a short meeting with Manson in jail, she retracted her confession and declared that she had invented the story implicating him, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten before the grand jury. Although the four “Family” members were to be tried together, the prosecution was required to abide by the rules of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1965 Aranda decision. Statements made by one defendant, such as the stories Atkins told her cellmates about the “Family’s” bloody deeds, could not be introduced as evidence against her co-defendants. The prosecution’s task was further complicated by the fact that Manson had not been present at the Tate house the night of the slayings. Deputy District Attorneys Aaron Stovitz and Vincent Bugliosi had to try to convict Manson on the seven murder counts based on the theory that the cult leader had ordered the killings. Manson’s request to be allowed to represent himself was denied. At first angered by this refusal, Manson then accepted Irving Kanarek as his attorney. Worldwide publicity about the case made finding an unbiased jury unusually difficult. When Judge Charles H. Older read a press account of a conference in his chambers, the infuriated judge moved to limit public speculation, about the case. He imposed a “gag order” barring the lawyers and witnesses from speaking to the press about matters not entered as evidence. Stenographers and other court officials were forbidden from giving or selling transcripts of the case to the press. When testimony began July 24, 1970, Manson arrived in court with an “X” scratched on his forehead. He considered the trial a “game” in which he was Steel Notes Magazine www.steelnotesmagazine.com 27