Keith Pleads For Innocence Of Manson’s Three Girls
Tuesday, January 12th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 12 – Defense attorney Maxwell Keith told the jury today at the Tate murder trial that if they believed the theory that the killers were simply robots and zombies directed by Charles Manson they must find all three of the female defendants innocent of murder.
Keith, winding up the final arguments for the defense, said that the prosecution itself had advanced the idea that the three girls and Charles “Tex” Watson were simply “automatons.”
“If you believe that theory, then the female defendants and Watson were extensions of Mr. Manson as if they were his arms and legs.
“If this is so, then the female defendants just can’t be guilty of premeditation and they cannot be guilty of conspiracy because they have no minds of their own.”
Keith contended that Deputy District Attorney Vincent Buglisoi advanced the robot theory because he felt that no one could accept the enormity of a concept in which people went out and killed victims they never had seen or even heard of.
“This is kind of like a horror show,” said Keith. “The mad scientist and his assistant Igor exchanging brains. But this isn’t science fiction, it’s real life. This is Mr. Bugliosi’s argument – this is his baby.”
Keith, counsel for Leslie Van Houten, obtained a day’s delay Monday in his summation when he told Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older his daughter’s serious illness had worried him too much during the weekend to prepare his case.
Older recessed the trial until today, when Keith said he planned to spend about half a day winding up his case for Miss Van Houten.
Older ruled that attorney Paul Fitzgerald, who represents Patricia Krenwinkel, would: be allowed to speak briefly before Leith begins his summation.
Fitzgerald had moved for a mistrial, claiming he was erroneously precluded from reading aloud from a previous court decision during his arguments on Miss Krenwinkel behalf.
Older agreed he should not have prevented Fitzgerald from reading, but denied the motion for the mistrial.
The judge also put off for a week arguments on Fitzgerald’s motion that Charles Manson, 36, accused mastermind of the seven slayings, and the three women codefendants were denied a public trial because most of the seats in the courtroom were reserved for members of the news media.
Older said he wanted the county counsel to study the charge.