Manson Drama Has More to Go

Mar. 31 — While the verdict and sentence are in, the Charles Manson case is far from over. The U.S. Supreme Court probably will decide the ultimate fate of the cult leader and his three young female followers.

The death sentences of the four for the seven Tate-LaBianca murders will be appealed automatically to the California Supreme Court.

The sentence may turn on a Supreme Court ruling awaited on death rows throughout the nation by more than 500 persons.

No executions have taken place in the United States since 1967. The last woman executed in California was in 1962.

Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older and the jury performed well throughout the longest and most bizarre trial in California’s history. Older presided firmly, not hesitating to cite attorneys for contempt or to expel the raucous defendants. The jurors, sequestered for long months from jobs and family, heard 32 weeks of arguments in the guilt phase, then nine more weeks during the penalty phase.

Charles Manson and his three “girls” may not die for their crimes but they must be kept away from society. Manson’s threats that “blood will flow” and other threats from the women should be taken seriously.

Manson’s commune was drug-oriented. Possibly the defense’s contention that the women are mentally ill from chronic use of LSD was right. If so, that is tragic. But it is less tragic than the seven murders of which they were convicted, deaths that the jurors referred to, after the sentences, as “butchery.” Of Manson, one juror said, “I think he’s a dangerous influence on society, highly dangerous. In my verdict I wanted to protect society.”

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