Judge Sequesters Jurors in Trial of Manson Followers

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14 – The jury in the trial of four Charles Manson followers charged with robbery was sequestered Tuesday after one of the jurors reportedly received a phone call.

In addition to sequestering the eight women and four men in a downtown hotel, Superior Judge Arthur Alarcon imposed a “gag” order to minimize publicity about the incident.

Alarcon’s efforts to keep details of the matter secret were partially thwarted at the end of Tuesday’s proceedings when one of the defendants, 32-year-old Kenneth Como, spoke out in the courtroom.

After Alarcon had sent the jury on its way to the hotel, Como stood up and said, “Regarding Mr. Flores…. This man supposedly received a phone call.”

This apparently was a reference to Michael Flores, one of the jury members. Alarcon interrupted Como and stated:

“I’m trying to protect your right to a fair trial. You realize that the press is here. If you are going to tell them everything that occurred this morning, then, of course, they are going to print it.”

Como replied, “I don’t see how else I can get it on the record.”

Alarcon interrupted again and said, “That’s what you were trying to do, isn’t it? I order you to remain silent and you will be taken from the courtroom.”

Earlier, the judge had conducted a 45-minute closed-door session in his courtroom during the morning. He ordered all attorneys and court attaches to refuse to comment on the matter.

Como is on trial with Mary Brunner, 28; Catherine (Gypsy) Share, 29, and ‘Lawrence Bailey, 23.

They are accused of holding up the Western Surplus Store at 134th St. and Hawthorne Blvd. on Aug. 21, 1971, and stealing 143 guns. They were captured a short time later after a shootout with 30 police officers.

The four defendants also are charged with the $2,600 robbery of a Covina beer distributing firm.

It is prosecutor Harland Braun’s theory that the holdups were committed as part of a plan to aid Manson in making a prison break.

The sequestration came on the eve of the scheduled appearance by several Manson “family” members at the trial. It is expected that Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten will be called to testify in this afternoon’s session after the prosecution rests its case.

They were convicted with Manson for the Sharon Tate-Leno LaBianca murders in August, 1969.

Manson is due to testify later in the week along with several other male members of his cult. Four convicted murderers, not believed to be directly connected with the Manson group, also have been subpoenaed as witnesses for the defense.

These 12 witnesses, all convicted or currently charged with murder, reportedly had been called to testify in the trial as part of the defense’s claim of diminished mental capacity.

By WILLIAM FARR

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