Defender Charges Cover-Up of Manson-Trial Evidence
Thursday, May 28th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, May 28 – Police and district attorney investigators were charged Wednesday with intentionally “covering up” the possibility that someone other than hippie leader Charles Manson and his “family” killed actress Sharon Tate and six others.
Former Public Defender Paul Fitzgerald, who resigned from his $25,000-a-year job in order to defend Patricia Krenwinkel, among “family” members accused of the murders, made the charges in a formal motion in which he said prosecutors were in contempt of court for not allowing him to see evidence they had gathered in the case, although he said, they had been ordered by the court to do so.
“Photographs of a bloody heel print found immediately outside the door of the Cielo Drive address (the Tate home) may demonstrate that some persons other than the defendants were present on or about the time of death,” Fitzgerald pointed out. He claims the pictures of the heel print have been intentionally kept from him.
Manson’s “family” charged with the murders were believed to be wearing moccasins or were barefoot at the time of the killings. Police were said to believe the heelprint was that of one of their own men, but have been unable to find the owner of the print.
Fitzgerald also claims that photographs not given to him show the location of a pair of glasses found at the Tate home and perhaps left by the assailants. The glasses, the attorney contends, were examined by a Los Angeles doctor who said the owner was “myopic and very definitely needed the glasses to see normally.”
Both the glasses and the bloody heel print, the attorney says, are vital pieces of evidence ignored — and withheld — by police.
Also withheld, says Fitzgerald, are theories still held by qualified, experienced homicide detectives, as to “hired killers.” Why they believe in the theory, the attorney contends, is vital to his case.
Fitzgerald also asked to see photographs showing the location of a rope allegedly used to tie the victims.
“The rope…may play a prominent role in the determination of the actual perpetrators of the offense,” the attorney said, “…in that it was tied in a peculiar, bizarre and unusual fashion.”
Quoting from some police investigation reports he was able to obtain, Fitzgerald said one of the victims, Thomas John Sebring, Hollywood hairdresser, “… was unmarried and had been engaged to Sharon (Tate) Polansky. He was considered a ladies’ man and took numerous women to his residence in the Hollywood Hills. He would tie the women up with a small sash cord and, if they agreed, would whip them, after which he would undress them and have sexual relations. He was a well known user of cocaine, staying high on the drug most of time.”
The photographs of the rope and its location and position are necessary to compare with the ropes Sebring used to tie his sexual partners, and are also necessary to determine if the rope belonged to Sebring, Fitzgerald said.
Also, in connection with Sebring, the attorney said, the prosecution has refused to make available copies of both written and unwritten statements, interviews, polygraph statements, tape recordings, stenographic reports of witnesses and persons interviewed in connection with Sebring’s background and history and “in particular his conduct in regard to bizarre sexual activity and the use of force to torture in connection with ropes and hoods.”
Although prosecutors said they will now allow Fitzgerald to inspect the documents he charged were withheld, they maintain all persons under suspicion in the slayings were cleared prior to the time the Manson “family” was arrested. They claimed, however, the other evidence the attorney wanted to inspect is not material in the case against his client, Miss Krenwinkel.
Fitzgerald also said the big part narcotics played in the lives of the victims also has been underplayed by investigators, who have refused to give defense attorneys needed — and court-ordered — information.
“The Los Angeles Police Department and agents from the district attorney have information from a known person that on Aug, 7, 1969 (the day before the Tate murders) that person had talked to Sebring and he (Sebring) had informed her that he had been “burnt” on $2,000 worth of bad cocaine. That person stated that in her opinion, Sebring would do almost anything to get back at the person who, had burned him,” Fitzgerald said.
The attorney quoted from the partial statement of one person concerning Wojiciech Frykowski, another murder victim: “He used cocaine, mescaline, LSD, marijuana, hashish and MDA in large amounts. He was an extrovert and gave invitations to almost everyone he met to come visit him at his residence (Cielo Drive address.) Narcotics parties were the order of the day, and the parties continued on into the early morning hours.” Fitzgerald is requesting the entire statement.
Fitzgerald claimed another “partial” statement indicated of Abigail Folger, the coffee-heiress victim: “…she had been living in a common law relationship with Frykowski for the past two years. Miss Folger supported Frykowski, paying for the rent at the Woodstock address and supplying him with money for his drug habit which included marijuana, hashish, mescaline, MDA and cocaine. Miss Folger also used these drugs in large quantities.”
A chemical test performed by the Los Angeles coroner’s office after death revealed that both Frykowski and Miss Folger had MDA residue in their blood.
Other statements, withheld from defense attorneys, were from narcotic users who were frequent visitors and party goers at the Polansky residence, Fitzgerald said.
“The Los Angeles Police Department and the district attorney’s office have evidence by way of statements that Tom Harrigan visited the Polansky residence at about 4 p.m. on Aug, 8 (the day of the killing) and that he had a bottle of wine with Frykowski, and a short conversation with Abigail Folger, and that his visit was generally directed to Frykowski concerning a delivery of MDA in the near future. Harrigan departed at approximately 6 p.m.
“They also have evidence by way of statements that at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 8. two large steamer trunks arrived at the Cielo Avenue address.
“As a result, qualified experienced homicide investigators of the Los Angeles Police Department earnestly held to a theory that one or two persons delivering or collecting for a delivery of various types and amounts of narcotics were turned away empty handed due to either bad narcotics or the lack of cash funds…and that they decided to take both the money and the narcotics after killing the victims.
“An additional theory existed that the suspects were hired killers…”
Fitzgerald, who told the court he needed the information in order to defend his client, claimed that the statements are invaluable.
“Everyone at the time of the murders were terror stricken and said many things — now they’ve decided to stop talking. Those early statements are vital.”
By MARY NEISWENDER