Women on Trial Draw Pictures
Friday, July 4th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jul. 4 – Swathed in satin capes, three women defendants in the Sharon Tate murder trial whispered and drew pictures on yellow legal pads Friday as the third tedious week of jury selection droned to a close.
The three brunettes, along with Charles Manson, 35, are on trial for murder-conspiracy in the slayings of the actress and six other persons last August.
Manson, leader of a nomadic hippie-style tribe which included the three women, laughed and chatted with the girls at the counsel table. His long mane of tangled hair was newly trimmed to earlobe length and he tugged on it during proceedings.
Susan Atkins, 21, and Leslie Van Houten, 20, swept into court in mini-length blue satin capes with hoods. Patricia Krenwinkel, 22, wore a red cape over an olive green velvet pants outfit.
Jury selection was recessed when the latest panel of prospective jurors was used up. Judge Charles Older ordered a new set of 60 potential jurors called up for Monday’s session.
So far, 104 persons have been questioned and 93 have been excused. Most have said it would cause family or business hardships to be locked in a hotel for the duration of the trial – expected to last about six months.
However, 16 persons have been excused as “biased,” most because they said pre-trial publicity had convinced them the accused were guilty.
“I can’t help but think there must be some guilt,” said one prospective juror excused Friday. “I have it in mind that rather than determining guilt or innocence, we’re determining the degree of guilt.”
Another man was excused after saying he rarely read newspapers but that this case “was so notorious it was called to my attention. ”
Eleven persons have been excused because they expressed unalterable opposition to the death penalty. But one potential juror Friday had a unique reason: he felt the death penalty wasn’t harsh enough.
“There ought to be something worse than death…Death isn’t bad enough,” said Michael Parrish.
“What did you have in mind,” asked a defense attorney, Paul Fitzgerald, “the rack and strews?”
“I’m not a sadist,” replied Parrish, “but something like that.”
Later, Parrish said that if a person wore convicted of first degree murder he would like to “give them life without possibility of parole and hard labor. They should sweat for what they did.”
When Chief Prosecutor Aaron Stovitz asked Parrish if he felt the death penalty was too light a punishment for defendants the Tate case, defense attorneys objected loudly and accused Stovitz of misconduct. After a conference at the judge’s bench, the question was dropped.
By LINDA DEUTSCH