Appoint Attorney for Tate Case Defendant
Sunday, December 21st, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 21 – A Superior Court judge today had appointed a veteran criminal trial attorney to represent Leslie Van Houten, charged in the murders last Aug. 10 of wealthy market executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.
Judge William B. Keene named Marvin L. Part, 38, to defend the 19-year-old Monrovia schoolgirl-turned-hippie.
Miss Van Houten is not charged in the murders of actress Sharon Tate and four others on the night of Aug. 9, although she was a member of the hate-oriented hippie clan headed by Charles Manson.
Manson and four others, not including Miss Van Houten, have been indicted by the County Grand Jury in connection with both the Tate and LaBianca murders.
Judge Keene continued Miss Van Houten’s case until tomorrow at 11 a.m. when she Manson, 35, and Linda Kasabian, 20, will appear for arraignment and plea.
Part was a deputy state attorney general from 1959 to 1960 and served as deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County until 1966, when he went into private practice.
Miss Van Houten appeared before Judge Keene Friday for substitution of attorneys. She previously had been represented by Donald Barnett, private counsel.
Judge Keene noted at the proceedings he had learned that Miss Van Houten did not wish Barnett to represent her and that Barnett had told him she did not have funds to retain an attorney.
The jurist then appointed the public defender’s office to represent the dark-haired defendant but the public defender refused to accept the case because of conflict of interest.
A representative of the public defender’s office currently is defending Robert K. Beausoleil in the slaying last July of musician Gary Hinman in his Topanga Canyon home.
Susan Denise Atkins, 21, charged in the Tate and LaBianca murders, is also accused of the Hinman slaying. These factors create the conflict of interest.
After the public defender declined to represent Miss Van Houten, Judge Keene appointed Part, who will be paid by the county for his services. Part told newsmen he believes Miss Van Houten can get a fair trial in Los Angeles.
He explained if her case were to be tried in a small town, it could be given a disproportionate amount of attention due to the absence of other matters to occupy the attention of the townspeople.
However, the attorney said he does not know yet if he will seek to have Miss Van Houten’s trial transferred elsewhere, or try to have it severed from the trial of Manson and the others.
Part called the Tate-LaBianca murders a “monumental” case.
He said be believes it has generated more interest locally than the case of Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, convicted assassin of U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
In this context, Part said, “The public likes to see sex and movie stars and violence.”
According to the attorney, the selection of a jury to try those accused of the Tate-LaBianca murders will take a “considerable amount of time.”
As a former deputy district attorney, Part is well acquainted with present Dep Dist. Attys. Aaron Stovitz and Vincent Bugliosi, who will prosecute the defendants.
He also is a friend of Richard Caballero, former deputy district attorney, who is the court-appointed attorney for Miss Atkins.
Miss Van Houten appeared in court wearing a red, white and blue striped dress.
Her hair was pulled back from her slender face and she wore no makeup.
Under questioning by the judge, she agreed to accept Part has her lawyer.
Part said he spoke with his client briefly on Friday.
“She was polite and soft-spoken and I did not discuss the case with her,” Part told newsmen.
He said he had explained to the defendant he had specialized in criminal law, and that when he told her he would agree to represent her, “she seemed to be relieved that someone was watching over her.”
Part is well known in legal circles for the humorous skits he writes for the annual Criminal Courts Bar Association banquet.
The two remaining defendants in the Tate-LaBianca slayings are out of the state, fighting extradition proceedings which have been instituted by the local district attorney’s office.
An Alabama circuit judge on Friday gave 22-year-old Patricia Krenwinkel 10 days to decide whether to fight extradition or return to Los Angeles to face trial in the Tate murder case.
Miss Krenwinkel appeared in court with her attorney M. A. Marsal for arraignment and to hear a governor’s warrant ordering her extradition and giving her until Dec. 29 to challenge it.
In an interview in Mobile with a television newsman, Marsal described Miss Krenwinkel as timid, soft-spoken, who sounds sincere, appears to be religious and has spoken with hint of her “love for people” and her reading of the Bible.
“She has the features of a young college girl,” Marsal said. “I can’t describe her better than that.”
Asked if he felt the publication in Los Angeles of a detailed account of the murders, under the byline of Susan Atkins, another of the defendants prejudiced Miss Krenwinkel’s case, Marsal said:
“Very much so…I feel that it is impossible to erase from the minds of any juror the reading of such an article…as to the law, it is obvious to me that such an article has had a very definite prejudicial effect on the trial of Miss Krenwinkel in California.”
Marsal added that he thought “the story is so nationwide that it is going to pose a problem regardless of what the circumstances might be or where the location might be.”