Find ‘Tex’ Watson Guilty; Sanity Phase Scheduled
Thursday, October 14th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 14 — Trial Judge Adolph Alexander ordered the jury which found Manson cultist Charles “Tex” Watson guilty of seven counts of first degree murder Tuesday, to return to court tomorrow at 9 a.m. for the start of the sanity phase.
Should the jury find that Watson was sane when the Tate-LaBianca killings occurred, the penalty phase which determines whether he goes to the gas chamber or spends his life in prison will be held.
The six-man, six-woman panel deliberated four and one-half days before arriving at the multiple verdicts, which were read in the hushed courtroom of Judge Alexander late Tuesday afternoon.
The lanky, 25-year-old defendant who has entered a double plea of innocent and innocent by reason of insanity, was initially impassive as the verdicts were read.
He became more agitated as the jury was polled, however, and shook his head in apparent disbelief.
Each of the convictions carries a possible death penalty, but the same jury must first decide if Watson was sane at the time actress Sharon Tate and six others were slain in 1969.
The jurist told the panel members to refrain from talking to anyone about the case and from reading, watching or listening to news accounts of the trial while it is going on.
The jurors were sequestered at a downtown hotel after they received the case last Thursday, but Judge Alexander said they could go home Tuesday night.
The jury probably will be sequestered in other deliberations, however.
The jury buzzed the court on Tuesday at 2:20 p.m. that it had reached a decision, but the verdicts were not read until 4:12 p.m.
Part of the delay was because Judge Alexander was attending a funeral.
It also took about an hour to round up the two defense attorneys and the two prosecutors.
Watson, a native of Texas, sat in the courtroom alone, except for uniformed bailiffs, for about an hour before his lawyers arrived.
The jury was brought into the courtroom shortly after 4 p.m. and the solemn- faced foreman, Carlos Rodriguez, handed the sheaf of verdicts to a bailiff.
The bailiff gave the verdicts to Judge Alexander, who examined each of them, then in turn, gave them to court clerk John Pappas, who read them.
The jurors were polled individually after Pappas read the verdicts.
Judge Alexander scheduled the sanity phase of the trial for tomorrow at 9 a.m. and ordered the jurors to return at that time.
Watson has entered a double plea of innocent and innocent by reason of insanity, necessitating the second phase of the trial.
The impassive defendant betrayed little visible emotion after the first verdict was read.
However, a little later after the attorneys approached the judge’s bench for a hurried conference, he began bobbing his head up and down slightly and shaking his head as if in disbelief.
His mother Mrs. Katherine Watson, who had been in constant attendance until final arguments started last week, was not in the courtroom.
Watson wore a blue sports jacket and gray flannel trousers, the same outfit he has worn throughout the trial.
He had been in an upstairs detention cell in the County Courthouse while the jury deliberated
Should the jury reject the claim of insanity by Watson, he will face a third phase of the trial — whether he should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.
Dep. Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted both Charles Manson and Watson hailed the verdict in what he called “a very complex and sophisticated” trial.
He noted that the jury had to weigh the testimony of a parade of psychiatrists and psychologists who testified as to Watson’s mental capacity due to extended use of drugs.
“They reached what we feel was a just verdict,” he said.
Bugliosi said that he and his fellow prosecutor, Stephen Kay, had felt from the beginning that the likely outcome of the trial would be either a first degree murder verdict or a hung jury. He said he did not think that the 12 jurors could have listened to the evidence and reached a finding of second degree murder.
Maxwell Keith and Sam Bubrick, Watson’s two defense attorneys, said they were “very disappointed” at the jury’s decision.
The one-time high school football player was returned to Los Angeles from McKinney, Tex, Sept. 12,1970.
His return was delayed because of dragged-out extradition hearings In his Texas hometown.
After Watson was brought back to Los Angeles he was taken to Atascadero State Hospital when another judge ruled him “presently insane.”
The ruling was made after a team of psychiatrists examined Watson and termed him a “human vegetable.”
The stay at Atascadero was preceded by a brief appearance in the courtroom where cult leader Charles Manson and three female followers were being tried for the same murders.
They were convicted earlier this year and sentenced to death.
After several weeks at Atascadero, Watson was pronounced able to face trial and returned to Los Angeles.