Steel Notes Magazine September 2016 - Page 28

Steel Notes Magazine July & August 2016 being judged by a society unworthy and incapable of understanding him. In protest, he had symbolically “X’d” himself from the world. Atkins, Krenwinkel, and Van Houten followed Manson’s example by burning an X into each of their foreheads. Opening statements began on July 24. On November 19, 1970; after nearly four months of testimony by prosecution witnesses, the state rested. On that same date, November 19, 1970, Attorney Paul Fitzgerald stunned the court by resting the collective defense without calling a single witness and without having presented any evidence. The courtroom exploded. The three “Manson girls” Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten all jumped up and shouted about how they wanted to testify. Even when order had been restored, the threesome insisted they wanted to take the stand, to tell the jury they’d killed Sharon Tate and the others on their own, that Charlie had nothing to do with the killings. That’s when Hughes stood up and told Judge Older, “I refuse to take part in any proceeding where I am forced to push a client out the window.” Fear ing their clients would incriminate themselves, the defense attorneys threatened to quit if the judge allowed the testimony. Judge Older accused the defense of trying to wreck the trial. In chambers, attorneys for the women explained that although their clients wanted to testify, they were strongly opposed, believing that they would, still under the powerful influence of Manson, testify that they planned and committed the murders without Manson’s help. Returning to the courtroom, Judge Older declared that the right to testify took precedence and said that the defendants could testify over the objections of their counsel. Atkins was then sworn as a witness, but her attorney, Daye Shinn, refused to question her. Returning to chambers, one defense attorney complained that questioning their clients on the stand would be like “aiding and abetting a suicide.” Hughes later told a reporter that he was confident that he could secure an acquittal for Van Houten. After that, Manson was allowed to make his own statement to the court, but WITHOUT THE JURY PRESENT, so that potentially excludable testimony relating to evidence incriminating co-defendants might be identified before it prejudiced the jury. Hughes repeated his objections and advised his client and the other two women not to testify. Older halted proceedings there, and ordered a ten-day recess so the opposing teams of attorneys could prepare their closing arguments. By December 2nd, Hughes had been missing for nearly two weeks. Judge Older gave up. He appointed a new attorney, Maxwell Keith, for Leslie Van Houten and ordered the proceedings to continue. The women threw a fit and demanded the judge let them fire all their lawyers, and then reopen their defense. Keep in mind that this is 28 Steel Notes Magazine www.steelnotesmagazine.com