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Manson Delays Plea For Murder Charges

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 12 – A tiny bearded man with shoulder length hair, clad in filthy fringed buckskin outfit and moccasins was formally charged Thursday with the murder of actress Sharon Tate and six other persons.

Charles M. Manson, 35, the accused master of a knife-wielding hippie cult, delayed until Dec. 22 a plea to the charges.

Manson told Superior Court Judge William B. Keene that he did not have the money to hire a lawyer and the court appointed a county public defender to represent him at least temporarily.

Spectators in the jammed courtroom stood on chairs for a better look as the 110-pound Manson was led in by three officers. He spoke out in a clear and resonant voice when Keene read his constitutional rights and asked if he understood.

“I understand what you have said,” Manson replied. “Do I understand that I have the right to question witnesses?”

Keene said he had that right through an attorney. He named deputy Public Defender Paul Fitzgerald to handle the case. Prominent attorneys are known to have offered their services free and it was expected Manson would select one or more of them.

The judge said the public defender would decide whether there was any “conflict of interest” in handling his case and Manson said.

“There is a conflict of interest.”

He did not elaborate.

District Attorney Evelle J. Younger told a news conference shortly before the hearing that an investigation of the role played by Manson and five other defendants in the Tate-Labianca slayings was being pursued.

Manson is charged with seven counts of murder and one of conspiracy in the killings at the Tate residence and those of grocery chain owner Leno Labianca and his wife.

“It is not limited to those two cases,” Younger said. He refused to elaborate in view of a court order forbidding public officials to comment on any evidence in the case before the trial.

Homicide investigators have disclosed, however, that one of the other murders being checked in connection with the “Manson family” is that of the teenage daughter of novelist Hans Habe.

Marina Elizabeth Habe, 17, was found stabbed to death early this year in the same fashion that was used in the killing of five persons at the Tate estate and the Labiancas.

Sheriff’s deputies also were digging up the ground of the former ranch home of the hippie cult on the outskirts of Los Angeles. searching for the body of a movie stunt man who disappeared while the nomadic tribe was living there.

Manson appeared calm, almost bored, during the 15-minute, arraignment.

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