Court Rejects Manson Request
Tuesday, November 17th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 17 – “I want a chance to defend my children,” said Charles Manson — gesturing at three women codefendants — in his latest plea for the right to act as his own lawyer in the Sharon Tate murder trial.
But, as the state rested its case Monday, the judge turned him down once again. The leader of a communal “family” made the emotional request as the court was about to recess until Thursday to allow the defense, to prepare its case.
Manson’s renewed plea to act as his own attorney drew the support of two defendants’ lawyers. Paul Fitzgerald and Ronald Hughes said Manson as his own attorney would be invaluable in drawing testimony from defense witnesses among his hippie-type followers.
“If it was just myself it would be a simple thing,” said Manson, waving a hand toward the three young women. “These children here are your children as much as mine, and I love my children very much.”
In refusing Manson’s request, Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older said, “You are hopelessly incompetent to defend yourself in a case of this complexity. I have made that conclusion before, and I have made it today.”
Before the ruling, the judge allowed Manson to speak uninterrupted for more than five minutes. It was the defendant’s most coherent plea for self representation of several he had made since the trial began 23 weeks ago.
“The very foundation we all stand on is the right of individual freedom,” he said. “I’m not asking for anything my forefathers didn’t ask for or die for…I’m not a leader and I don’t wish to be made into a leader or a martyr or a hero. I would like to make myself back into myself…I can bring the truth forward that I have not broken the law.”
Manson, 36, is charged with murder-conspiracy along with followers Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, both 22, and Leslie Van Houten 20. They are accused in the August 1969 slayings of the actress and six others.
The state rested its case after winning admission of some 250 items of evidence including 73 photographs of the victims, bloody in death.
By LINDA DEUTSCH