Lawyer says Tex Did Kill But Was Only A Zombie
Tuesday, August 17th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 17 — Charles “Tex” Watson did commit some of the Tate-LaBianca murders but he was “no more than a zombie, a mindless automaton” blindly obeying Charles Manson’s orders, his attorney said Monday.
“Watson’s motive was simple,” said attorney Maxwell Keith, referring to the five slayings at the home of actress Sharon Tate in August of 1969.
“He had none, except to do what Manson told him to do — to kill everyone there. That’s what he did.
“But he was not more than a zombie at the time, a mindless automaton.”
Keith said Watson “lost his identity, his ego and was a psychotic extension of Manson, made in Manson’s image.”
Manson schemed to encourage Watson to use LSD and in time his “mind became a vacuum” into which the cult leader instilled his “twisted beliefs,” the attorney said.
Watson is the last of the “Manson family” clan to come to trial for the Tate-LaBianca killings. Manson and three young women followers have already been sentenced to death for the slayings.
The 25-year-old former high school athlete star from McKinney, Tex., was “a country boy,” his lawyer said, who was no match for the sophistication of Manson and his followers, and succumbed to the pleasure-loving, communal life style and the attentions of the Manson girls.
Evidence will be presented to show Watson’s 120 IQ in high school was broken down through constant heavy drug use. Keith said Watson’s IQ now is 88.
Keith also said his client killed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca the night following the Tate killings.
“He killed them as he was told by his god. They were not people to him but objects. Watson had long before lost his own ego becoming a psychotic extension of Manson, a robot,” the attorney said.
But in his opening statement, Dept. Dist Atty. Vincent Bugliosi disagreed with Keith’s contention that Watson’s mental capacity was diminished.
“The thought of killing these people came long before he killed them and he took every precaution to avoid getting caught,” Bugliosi said.
“He was not suffering mental capacity but from a diminishment of his heart and soul.”
Watson’s case was separated from the other defendants while he fought extradition from Texas.
Bugliosi also said testimony of Linda Kasabian, a cult member who was granted immunity for turning state’s evidence, would show Watson was in command when he went with other family members to the Tate estate.
Mrs. Kasabian testified briefly Monday and was expected to testify again today.
Meanwhile, in another courtroom, a 47-year-old prospector testified that Manson, 36, and Steve “Clem” Grogan confessed to him the slaying of another victim.
Grogan and Manson are accused of killing Donald “Shorty” Shea, a ranch hand and one time stuntman, and Gary Hinman, a musician.
Paul Crockett said Manson mentioned the Shea murder in September 1969, when they met at the Barker Ranch in Death Valley. Grogan, the witness said, described the slaying.
“Clem said sticking knives into people was groovy. Then he told me that in Shea’s case the
man would not die so he had to chop off his head,” Crockett said.