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Accused Mass Murderer Wants to Act as Own Attorney

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 23 – Charles Manson, leader of a hippie cult, sparred verbally with a judge yesterday and insisted he be allowed to defend himself against seven counts of murder.

The bearded, long-haired Manson finally agreed to discuss with a court-appointed attorney the pros and cons of defending himself against the charges stemming from the slayings of actress Sharon Tate and six other persons.

Superior Court Judge William B. Keene appointed Joseph A. Ball, a former state bar president, to confer with Manson today and discuss the defendant’s intention of representing himself. Ball, the court emphasized, would not seek to represent Manson at his murder trial.

Manson, 35, his left hand frequently stroking his beard, said at one point:

“I don’t want to fight with the judge. I do believe his interest in me is in his mind believe he’s sincere.”

Manson was ordered held without bail and to be returned to court tomorrow for further proceedings.

“You have the right to represent yourself if you fully comprehend the consequences of acting as your own attorney,” Keene said near the end of the 30-minute hearing.

Two young women, members of the weird “Manson Family,” appeared in court before Manson. There was no direct confrontation.

Linda Kasabian, 20, was granted a continuance until Jan. 6 to enter a plea to seven counts of murder to give her new attorney time to familiarize himself with the case.

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