Jury Asked To Consider Manson’s Innocence
Friday, March 19th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 19 — Claiming that hippie leader Charles Manson is a “focal point for somebody’s vendetta,” the cult chieftain’s attorney today urged the jury to consider the “possible innocence” of his client though they already have found him guilty of seven counts of murder.
Irving Kanarek, the first of four defense attorneys to begin summation of the penalty phase of the Tate – LaBianca in Los Angeles Superior Court, claimed the prosecution would “do anything to get Mr. Manson.”
Kanarek, expected to continue his summation for at least another day unless halted by Judge Charles Older, said the prosecution had different stories when they went before the grand jury and therefore presented only one.
“They deliberately and maliciously and with intent to deceive withheld these statements – the wool was pulled over the eyes of the grand jury. The same thing could be happening now,” the attorney charged.
Kanarek claimed that Susan Atkins, one of the four defendants, was then the “darling” of the prosecution and they allowed her to tell her version of the murders before the grand jury. Her testimony led to the indictment of Manson, and five others including herself.
Miss Atkins later recanted her testimony and Linda Kasabian, also indicted on the strength of Miss Atkins’ testimony, became the star prosecution witness and was granted immunity.
“Linda Kasabian was tutored,” Kanarek charged. “She was told what to say by what happened at the grand jury. We have a Broadway production here. Linda Kasabian was schooled.”
Thursday, the chief prosecutor in the case demanded the jury send Manson and his three girl disciples to the gas chamber for “barbaric, unmerciful, savage murder.”
In a dramatic 10-minute closing argument, Dep. Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi labeled the hippie leader “indescribably vicious and evil” as he urged the maximum penalty for Manson as well as Leslie Van Houten, Miss Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel.
The five-woman, seven-man panel eight weeks ago found the defendants guilty of first-degree murder. They must now determine the penalty: life imprisonment or death in San Quentin’s gas chamber.
“These defendants are not human beings,” Bugliosi shouted. “Human beings have a heart and a soul. No one with a heart and soul would do what these defendants did to these innocent victims.
“These defendants aren’t even animals – animals kill only for food or to survive.
“These defendants are human monsters – human mutations.”
Bugliosi said the three female defendants not only confessed to the crimes, but tried to “make it look like Charles Manson is not connected with the murders.” He called their efforts “a disgusting and disgraceful spectacle.”
“These seven murders…were so incredibly savage, ghastly and bizarre, they are unprecedented,” the prosecutor said. “They were so vicious, so horrible, so totally devoid of any extenuating circumstance that the death penalty should be automatic.
“Life imprisonment would be the greatest gift…the greatest charity…the greatest handout you could give.”
Calling the jurors the “collective conscience of this community,” the prosecutor said that if the case wasn’t a proper one for the imposition of the death penalty for all four defendants, “no case ever will be.”
“The eyes of Los Angeles and the entire world are focused on you people,” Bugliosi said, “and there is only one proper ending to the Tate-LaBianca murders – that is a verdict of death for all four defendants.”
The three girl defendants sat quietly during Bugliosi’s closing argument, at times whispering among themselves. Manson, ejected last week for being disruptive, silently listened through a small screened opening in the door of his holding cell adjacent to the courtroom.
Following Bugliosi, Kanarek Thursday eluded the press for “covering up facts” and the District Attorney’s office for using the case for political purposes.
Claiming that his client was not involved in the slayings, Kanarek called for the jury to perform a public service “by giving these people life.”
Denying that Manson was a leader who ordered the killings, Kanarek claimed that a person “can’t be forced to pull a trigger or use a knife.”
Avoiding use of the words “murder” or “killings” the 55-year-old lawyer claimed the killers were under the influence of LSD when “they did what they did.”
“These are regrettable and tragic circumstances, but Mr. Manson was not involved,” he declared.
But while telling the jury Manson was not involved in the killings, Kanarek urged a sentence of life imprisonment for his client.
Kanarek argued, “There is more social good in allowing some kind of analysis – to show some kind of psychological relationship between taking drugs and the conduct of these people.”
Kanarek is expected to continue his summation possibly through Monday before the three other defense attorneys begin arguments. The three – Paul Fitzgerald, Maxwell Keith and Daye Shinn – estimated they would need a total of one day for their final statements. A rebuttal by Bugliosi is expected to follow. Final word to the jury is reserved, however, for the defense.
By MARY NEISWENDER