Manson, Girls Demand Chance to Defend Selves
Friday, December 4th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 4 – Charles Manson and his three girl “followers,” charged with the murder of seven persons, Thursday demanded that their defense be reopened so they can testify and call some 21 witnesses to back them up.
They made their demands in a wild, but brief, open – court session when Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Older attempted to replace Leslie Van Houten’s missing attorney, Ronald Hughes.
Hughes has been missing for more than a week. An intensive search is on for him in Sespe Hot Springs area where he was last seen.
Manson, sporting a short Van Dyke, interrupted the judge before he could give the name of the replacement attorney — Los Angeles Lawyer Maxwell Keith — demanding:
“May I be heard on the subject of the defense?”
Older halted Manson’s further comments by saying there “is another matter to be heard first.” He then formally announced Keith’s appointment as co-counsel for Miss Van Houten.
Keith, who defended Dr. Bernard Finch in his unsuccessful third and final trial on charges he murdered his wife, was in the courtroom. He formally accepted the appointment, making him the only county-paid defense attorney in the case.
Defense and prosecution attorneys went into the judge’s chambers again today to conclude their discussions on jury instruction. Keith, however, was not present because of a prior appointment in Independence.
Thursday, Keith or Older could say little during the first open-court hearing in two weeks.
“I don’t accept this man as my counsel — as I told you before,” Miss Van Houten said “And also, I want to testify.”
She was interrupted by the judge, who, in turn was cut off by Manson’s shouts:
“What does it take to talk in this courtroom?” the cultist shouted, jumping to his feet. “We want to put on a defense…these men,” Manson said indicating the defense attorneys who had retreated from the counsel table action, “are not our counsel.”
“Sit down, sir!” the judge almost shouted.
“Am I supposed to fight you now,” the cultist replied as three bailiffs and several plainclothes detectives took strategic positions.
Older repeated: “Sit down, sir, or the bailiffs will seat you and we’ll remove you from the courtroom.”
Manson seemed to laugh. ”You’ll remove us from the courtroom and you can try this yourself?”
The judge ordered the bailiffs to seat Manson. But Manson didn’t remain silent.
“We’ll keep trying and keep trying…” he said as Older proceeded with other trial matters.
Later Manson jumped to his feet and said, “I’d like to relieve Mr. Kanarek as my counsel and with the assistance of these three ladies, prepare our own defense.”
“That motion is denied,” the judge said.
Patricia Krenwinkel then jumped to her feet: “We’re trying to give a defense. It’s only us that can present a defense. Our lawyers are so piled up with books and rules they won’t listen to us.”
“We can put on a beautiful defense. We ask to reopen the defense case and proper. You’re cutting our throats by not letting us defend ourselves.”
Miss Krenwinkel was backed up by the third girl codefendant, Susan Atkins, who claimed the defendants had not conferred with their counsel.
“We only know the defense,” she said. “We’re the only ones that know the truth. If you deny this, your justice falls.”
Then, referring to her request two weeks ago that she be allowed to take the stand — a request she later retracted — she said she didn’t say anything about a confession.” Defense attorneys had fought against her testifying because they claimed she was going to make a “judicial confession.”
“Everyone assumed I was going to confess. No one knows what I will say. I want to testify and question witnesses….and my co-counsel (indicating the two other girl defendants) will question.
Although Older denied her plea, she continued:
“Twenty-one witnesses are willing to get up and testify on behalf of our defense. How much plainer can I make it to you.
“I have a motion to reopen the defense — I want to testify.”
Older asked if she wanted to testify in front of a jury. She answered yes, adding she wanted to reopen the defense.
“That means to represent yourself, and I cannot permit it,” the judge answered.
Then Manson, who had again risen to his feet interrupted:
“Can we get an attorney who would ask the questions we want?”
Older didn’t answer and announced that court would recess day-to-day until the newly appointed attorney felt he was ready to proceed.
Meanwhile, search continued for the missing Hughes whose transcripts of the trial were flown to Los Angeles Thursday night from Sespe Hot Springs where they were found in an abandoned auto.
Jim Forsher, a 17-year-old friend of the missing attorney, told authorities that he had driven Hughes’ and his own girl friend to Sespe last Saturday. Their car had become mired in mud and he and his girl friend hiked out of the area
By MARY NEISWENDER