Manson, 3 Girls Found Guilty on Mass Murder Charges
Tuesday, January 26th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 26 – Charles Manson and three female followers were convicted of first-degree murder yesterday in the killings of actress Sharon Tate and six others in August 1969.
The defendants also were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. The verdicts were returned at 11:47 a.m. in the Hall of Justice courtroom where Manson and the others have been on trial for more than seven months.
The jury had deliberated a total of 42 hours and 40 minutes.
Manson — along with codefendants Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel — were found guilty on all counts.
The decision by the jury of seven men and five women does not mean the case is ended. There now has to be a second phase during which the jury must determine the penalty.
Under California law, the jurors have only two options: life imprisonment or death in the gas chamber. Manson sat quietly fingering his Van Dyke-style beard as court clerk Gene Darrow read the verdicts.
“How come I’m not allowed to put on a defense?” Manson shouted as the jury was taken out of the courtroom at 12:05 p.m. after the verdict was read.
His codefendants began murmuring something in a low tone and all four were taken into an adjacent holding tank before they could say anything further.
Trial Judge Charles H. Older said the penalty phase will begin Thursday at 9 a.m. The entire proceeding, from the time the jury filed into the courtroom at 11:40 a.m. and the time the judge got off the bench, took 26 minutes.
The reason for the length was that Darrow had to read verdicts on a total of 27 individual felony counts at stake in the case.
Manson, 36-year-old leader of a hippie-style cult called “The Family,” was convicted of all seven slayings on Aug. 9 and 10, 1969. He also was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
Miss Atkins 22 and Miss Krenwinkel 23, were convicted of the same charges.
Miss Van Houten 21 had been charged only with two slayings. She was convicted of both, as well as of conspiracy.
Five of the murders occurred at the Benedict Canyon home of Miss Tate. The two others — that of market owner Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary — occurred the next night at the LaBianca home in the Los Feliz district.
After the verdicts were read, each juror was individually polled to see if he concurred with the findings. One by one, jurors answered, “yes.”
Most of the jurors were somber when they walked into the courtroom, but foreman Herman Tubick, a mortician at Rose Hills Cemetery, smiled broadly at prosecutor Vincent T. Bugliosi and his two assistants.
Two other jurors, William McBride and Larry Sheely, also had smiles on their faces. Manson and his “girls” were brought into the courtroom minutes before the jury arrived.
The young women, dressed in prison blues, were laughing and talking among themselves by contrast Manson, wearing an open collared white shirt and dark trousers, appeared somber.
All defendants appeared nervous, but their jitters vanished when Darrow began to read one guilty verdict after the other.
Only one defendant, Miss Van Houten, appeared surprised at the decision of the jury.
When her guilty verdicts were read, the darkhaired young woman shook her head back and forth and kept her eyes on the red carpet of the courtroom.
It had been expected there would be fireworks from the defendants after the verdicts were read, but Judge Older thwarted this by having them all ushered out quickly.
The last time the defendants had been in the courtroom was Dec. 22, they were banned during final arguments after numerous courtroom outbursts.
There were at least 25 uniformed and plainclothes sheriff’s deputies in the courtroom yesterday morning. Thirteen of those were behind the railing and most stood around the defendants.
After the jury came in, Judge Older asked Tubick if the panel had reached a verdict.
“Yes, your honor, we have,” Tubick said.
The grey-haired, distinguished foreman, who sits in seat number 12 in the jury box, handed the sheaf of verdicts to bailiff William Murray, who in turn gave them to the judge.
Judge Older leafed through the verdicts to put them in order and then handed them to Darrow.
The decision of the jury climaxed an investigation and trial which began with the murders —described by the prosecutor as “the crime of the century” — a year and a half ago.
Miss Tate, 26 years old and eight and a half months pregnant with a son, was stabbed to death in the early morning hours of Aug. 9, 1969, in the living room of her Benedict Canyon estate.
Killed with her were men’s hairstylist Jay Sebring 35, attractive darkhaired coffee heiress Abigail Folger, also 26, and Polish playboy Voityck Frykowsky 36.
Also slain was Steven Parent 18, who was visiting the estate caretaker.
The sixth and seventh victims were Leno LaBianca 44, a wealthy market owner, and his wife Rosemary 38, who were stabbed to death in early morning hours of Aug. 10 at their Los Feliz area home. They had just returned from a water skiing trip.
Prosecutor Bugliosi called 84 witnesses during the long trial to support his theory that Manson masterminded the killings and the others carried out his orders.
Not once did Bugliosi contend that Manson actually killed anybody, but he did allege the cult chieftain tied up the LaBiancas before they were murdered.
The key prosecution witness was demure, blonde Linda Kasabian, the 21-year-old mother of two who once was accused of murders herself.
Mrs. Kasabian, who was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony, now lives in New Hampshire with her mother and her children.
Mrs. Kasabian, formerly a “family” member, testified she was sent with the others on the two murder missions.
She claimed she saw Parent and Frykowsky killed by Charles (Tex) Watson 24, the fifth co-defendant who last fall was judged presently Insane and sent to Atascadero State Hospital.
Mrs. Kasabian also claimed she saw Miss Krenwinkel chase Miss Folger across the Tate lawn. The defendant, said the witness, had an upraised knife.
The young woman was on the witness stand for 18 days during July and August —most of those taken up with cross examination by Manson’s attorney.
Judge Older, when he instructed the jury, said Mrs. Kasabian must be regarded as an accomplice, meaning her story must be treated with “distrust.” In addition, the judge said an accomplice’s story must be corroborated by other witnesses.
Although the key part of Mrs. Kasabian’s testimony was about the murders, she also gave an insight into the feelings which Manson’s followers held about him.
“To be truthful with you, I felt that he was the Messiah come again, you know, the second coming of Christ,” she once told the jury.
Other witnesses had more damaging words for the hippie chieftain.
“Death is Charlie’s trip, said tousled-haired Paul Watkins 20, another former member of the “family.”
“He said he was the devil and the devil was on the loose,” recalled Danny DeCarlo 26, a former motorcycle gang leader who lived with the tribe at the Spahn Ranch near Chatsworth, Manson’s stronghold at the time of the murders.
The most damaging testimony, however, came from former Spahn Ranch hand Juan Flynn, a Panamanian-born bit part player in the movies.
Flynn claimed Manson in mid-August 1969 actually confessed to the murders to him.
It was Miss Atkins herself who prompted the investigation of the Manson tribe’s possible connection with the murders.
In November 1969, she allegedly told two fellow inmates at Sybil Brand Institute for Women that she was involved in the killings.
Both women, Virginia Graham and Roni Howard, testified at the trial and said Miss Atkins admitted to them that she was the one who stabbed Miss Tate.
Miss Atkins had been in jail in connection with another murder charge.
Manson also faces two other murder charges and he must stand trial for those later this year.
The long trial was filled with a bizarre series of incidents.
President Nixon got into the act last Aug. 3 when in a speech in Colorado, he said that Manson was “guilty, directly or indirectly,” of the murders.
The President said later he was sorry about the whole thing and should have used the word “allegedly.” Defense motions for a mistrial were denied.
Manson often disrupted proceedings and several times was banished to a small holding cell adjacent to the courtroom.
The young women, also involved in many outbursts, were sent to a room one floor above to listen by loudspeaker.
None of the defendants, was in the courtroom during the last 24 weeks of trial.
The most violent episode occurred on Oct. 5 when Manson leaped over the counsel table toward the judge.
“In the name of Christian justice, someone should cut your head off,” Manson screamed at Judge Older.
By SANDI METTETAL