Prosecutor Claims Manson Wanted to Spark Race War
Saturday, July 25th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jul. 25 – With a Beatles song spinning in his mind, Charles M. Manson ordered the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others in hopes of igniting a black-white war, the state says.
“To Manson, ‘Helter-Skelter,’ the title of one of the Beatles’ songs, meant the black man rising up against the white establishment and murdering the entire white race,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi said in an opening statement Friday at the trial of the hippiestype “family” leader and three followers on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.
He said Manson believed the race war would wipe out all whites except Manson and his clan who “intended to escape from Helter Skelter by going to the desert.”
Bugliosi described Manson as “an avid follower of the Beatles” and said the shaggy-haired ex-convict believed the British quartet was “speaking to him across the ocean.”
Manson interpreted their songs as supporting his philosophies and has “a fanatical obsession with ‘Helter Skelter,’ the prosecutor said. The lyrics of the song do not mention race war.
“Helter Skelter” was scrawled in blood on a wall at the home of two of the victims along with “Rise” and “Death to Pigs,” the word “Pigs” was written in blood at the Tate home.
Bugliosi said the scrawlings and other evidence were aimed at “making it look like the black people had murdered the five Tate victims and Mr. and Mrs. (Leno) La Bianca, thereby causing the white community to turn against the black man and ultimately lead to a civil war…a war Manson foresaw the black man winning.”
The prosecutor said Manson believed the black-white war would be started spontaneously by blacks but “got impatient” and told his clan: “I’m going to show blackie how to do it.” Then, said Bugliosi, he ordered the murders.
Manson’s vision of the war’s outcome, said the prosecutor, was that blacks “would be unable to handle the reins of power because of inexperience and would have to turn over the reins to those with people who had escaped from Helter Skelter, that is…Manson and his followers.”
Miss Tate was slain at her home last Aug. 9 along with four visitors. The next night, 10 miles away, Mr. and Mrs. LaBianca, wealthy market owners, were stabbed to death.
Manson, 35, arrived at the trial Friday in jail denims, a cross slashed into his forehead, framed by his long tangled locks. A defense attorney said Manson cut the cross, himself with a razor blade.
Seated with him were the other defendants, Susan Atkins, 21, in a blue sleeveless pants suit, Patricia Krenwinkel, 22, in a green velvet pants suit, and Leslie Van Houten, 20, in a blue and white striped mini dress.
The prosecutor said the state’s star witness, Linda Kasabian, 21, will testify Monday that Manson’s followers — including the three women defendants — were “slavishly obedient” to him and killed the seven victims at his command. He said Manson had “total domination” over his followers and described him as “a megalomaniac who coupled his insatiable thirst for power with a desire for violent death.”
A defense attorney objected to the state’s interjecting motive in its opening statement, and the judge ordered Bugliosi to make no further such references.
Impassive during the prosecutor’s statement, Manson issued a printed statement via an attorney during a recess.
“Look at what you have done,” it said in part, “and what you are doing. You make fun of God and have murdered the world in the name of Jesus Christ…I am not allowed to speak with words so I have spoken with a mark I will be wearing on my forehead.”
Paul Fitzgerald, attorney for Miss Krenwinkel and spokesman for the defense team, said during a recess that the prosecution had “sown the seeds of its own destruction” with the opening statement. He called Bugliosi’s comments “a melo-dramatic tirade against Manson” offered because “the prosecution lacks good evidence.” He said some aspects of the remarks were so preposterous that the jury wouldn’t believe them.
Bugliosi told the jury that many witnesses will testify to Manson’s beliefs because “Manson’s philosophies are so strange and so bizarre that if you heard them from the lips of only one person, you probably wouldn’t believe it.”
First on the stand was Miss Tate’s father, retired Army Lt. Col. Paul J. Tate. He identified pictures of his daughter and said he last saw her at her home in July, 1969.
Wilfred Parent, father of Steven Parent, 18, killed at the Tate home after visiting the caretaker, identified his son’s picture and said the boy’s hobby was tinkering with stereo sets.
Winifred Chapman, the maid who found the bodies at the Tate house appeared near tears as she said Miss Tate was eight months pregnant and was having the maid’s room converted into a nursery. She testified that she had washed the front door and master bedroom door earlier on the day of the murders. Police have said fingerprints of defendants were found on both doors.
William Garretson, 20, of Lancaster, Ohio, the caretaker at the Tate home, testified that he spent the murder night in the guest house but heard only the barking of dogs, which was normal. He told of Parent’s brief visit and departure at midnight or a little later.
On Aug. 9, at 10:30 a.m., Garretson said, he was awakened by a barking dog and, “I looked up and there was a policeman pointing a rifle. Then another came, and another one broke down the door and Christopher (a dog) bit in on the leg.”
He added: “I asked what was wrong. They told me to shut up, they’d show me…I was shown two bodies on the lawn.”
By LINDA DEUTSCH