Manson, 3 Girls Found Guilty
Monday, January 25th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 25 – Charles Manson and three young women he lured into his wild nomadic cult were convicted of first degree murder today in the savage and senseless slaughter of actress Sharon Tate and six other helpless victims.
A predominantly middle-aged jury returned a verdict finding the self-styled “Jesus Christ” guilty of sending his “robots” out to stab and shoot to death five persons at the Tate home and two others at the residence of wealthy supermarket owner Leno LaBianca.
The girls — Susan Atkins 22, Patricia Krenwinkel, 23, and Leslie Van Houten, 21 — also were convicted of first degree murder. Miss Van Houten, a former high school beauty queen, was charged only with the LaBianca slayings.
The same seven man, five woman jury now will decide — starting Thursday — the punishment for the 36-year-old Manson and the dark-haired trio who followed his every command from, love-making to homicide.
They have a choice between life imprisonment or death in the gas chamber at San Quentin.
Manson and the three girls heard the verdicts in absolute silence in a courtroom in which 20 deputy sheriffs stood guard.
As he was led out, Manson, dressed in a white blouse, black scarf and trousers called out to the judge: “We weren’t allowed to put on a defense, old man.”
Manson also said, “I think the jury’s guilty.”
The three young women, dressed in blue denim, prison dresses with darker blue sweaters, put their heads together and whispered as the verdicts were read by court clerk Gene Darrow.
It took Darrow 16 minutes to read the 27 separate verdicts which included four counts of conspiracy to commit murder as well as the individual killings.
Defense attorney Paul Fitzgerald said the defendants expected the guilty verdicts and that their lawyers were “disappointed but not surprised.
“We thought we lost the case when we lost the change of venue motion. We had about as much chance of a fair trial in Los Angeles as Sam Sheppard had in Cleveland.”
The verdicts came almost a year and one-half after the slayings and, in the course of uproarious trial, the victims were the all but forgotten characters in the case.
Miss Tate 26, daughter of an army colonel who became known for her performance in “Valley of the-Dolls.” She was married to Polish film, director Roman Polanski and was eight and one-half months pregnant at the time of her death.
Jay Sebring, 35, at one time Miss Tate’s fiance. Sebring was top Hollywood men’s stylist who numbered such customers as Frank Sinatra among his clientele.
Voityck Frykowsky, 37 a friend of Polanski who had worked with him on movies in Europe and came to the United States as a sort of hanger-on know to be a user of drugs.
Abigail Folger, 26, a member of the millionaire Folger coffee family. A graduate of Radcliffe, she met Frykowsky in New York and formed a liaison with him, coming to Los Angeles as house guest of the Polanskis.
Steven Parent, 18, the son of a carpenter who was visiting the young caretaker at the Polanski home the night of the murders.
Leno LaBianca, 48, president and chief stockholder of the Gateway supermarkets.
Rosemary LaBianca, 48, his wife, a pretty dark-haired woman.
The slayings took place the nights of Aug. 8-9-10, 1969, and at first police did not connect them despite the scrawling of the word “Pig” in blood at both homes.
Manson and his “family” moved from the Spahn Ranch, an old western movie lot on the outskirts of Los Angeles, several weeks after the murders to Goler Wash in Death Valley where they set up another commune with lookouts and field telephones.
In October, 1969, National Park Service rangers, California Highway Patrol officers and deputies rounded up Manson and about 30 other members of his family in Death Valley but the charges were automobile theft — not murder.
In December, 1969, Susan Atkins — held in Los Angeles in the murder of musician Gary Hinman —told cellmates about the Tate murders and the case broke, with a grand jury returning indictments that month.
Miss Atkins testified before the grand jury but later recanted her confession and refused to testify at the trial.
The prosecution case then hung largely on the testimony of 20-year-old Linda Kasabian who said she accompanied “family” members to both the Tate and LaBianca homes and singled out Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten and Charles “Tex” Watson as the killers.
The trial began on June 15, 1970, but it was five weeks before a jury was selected. They were mostly middle-aged with one of them a 74-year-old retired deputy sheriff and the youngest a chemical engineer in his late 20s.
None of the defendants took the witness stand in the presence of the jury. Manson did testify for one day with the jurors absent, giving a rambling account of his philosophy and his complaints against the Establishment. He was offered a chance to repeat his story to the jury but declined unless he could act as his own attorney.
The defense called no other witnesses and presented no evidence. The prosecution, on the other hand, brought 84 witnesses to the stand and introduced more than 300 items of evidence and exhibits including a sword, knives, a pistol, a nylon rope, leather thongs and color photographs of the victims bodies which had women jurors averting their faces in revulsion.
Defense Attorney Paul Fitzgerald said he felt it was quite probable one or all the defendants would seek to take the stand during the penalty phase of the trial — with the young women trying to save Manson, from the gas chamber.
The penalty phase was expected to last at least a month and possibly two months during which the jury will be locked up nightly at the Ambassador Hotel where they have been sequestered since last July.
The jury actually deliberated for 42 hours and 40 minutes, although they received the case a week ago last Friday.
Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted the case, said the verdicts, “confirmed my faith in the jury system.”
Manson’s attorney, Irving Kanarek, was asked what he thought of the verdicts.
“It’s a sad day for American justice,” he said. “This trial has been an entertainment from the start.”
Fitzgerald was asked whether the girls might try to save Manson from the gas chamber.
“What is there to save?” Fitzgerald replied.