Manson on Stand in Dramatic Finale
Saturday, November 21st, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 21 – “I’ve killed no one and I’ve ordered no one killed,” Charles Manson declared in a dramatic, unexpected monologue that wound up testimony in the Sharon Tate murder trial.
Out of hearing of the jury, and over his attorney’s objections, the short, dark-haired clan leader talked for about two hours Friday. He emotionally expounded his philosophies, railed against society and rebutted portions of the state case against him.
As he approached the stand he told his three women codefendants, “You don’t have to testify now.” And the women — who previously had been described by their attorneys as eager to take the stand and confess to save Manson — later withdrew their requests to testify.
Thus the defense formerly rested its case without calling a witness. The judge recessed the 23-week-old trial until Nov. 30 to allow both sides time to prepare final arguments for the four charged with the seven murders in August 1969.
Manson’s narrative was heard without the jury present so any inadmissible statements could be eliminated. But Manson declined to do a repeat performance, saying, “To repeat what I said would be like I didn’t even say it…I have already relieved all the pressure I had.”
The jury won’t hear the testimony, but it remains in the trial record and could be considered if the case is appealed.
At one point, Manson asked that his speech be read to the jury, but at another he said: “I don’t recognize the courtroom. I recognize the press and I recognize the people.”
The four defense attorneys shocked the courtroom Thursday by announcing, “The defense rests,” just as its case was to open.
They said then they feared Manson’s three women followers planned to take the stand and incriminate themselves. Resting they said, was a way to stop them.
The women turned the tables Friday morning when they refused to speak outside the jury’s presence. Then Manson volunteered to testify.
“The girls were talking about testifying,” he said at one point, “If the girls came up here to testify and they said anything good about me, you would have to reverse it and say that it was bad. You would have to say, ‘Well, he put the girls up to saying that.He put the girls up to not telling the truth.’”
Manson’s attorney Irving Kanarek, objected several times before this client took the stand, and made several motions for mistrial, all denied. At one point, the judge ordered a bailiff to make Kanarek sit down because he was interrupting Manson.
Manson snapped: “I thought you rested your case, Mr. Kanarek.”
Sometimes verging on tears, Manson spoke of his women codefendants and other youngsters who formed his nomadic clan which lived communally at the suburban Spahn movie ranch.
“These children who come at you with knives, they’re your children,” he said, addressing society in general. “I didn’t teach them; you did. I just tried to help them stand up.
“Most of the people at the ranch that you call the family were just people that you did not want, people that were alongside the road, that their parents had kicked them out…So I did the best I could and I took them up on my garbage dump and I told them this, that in love there is no wrong.”
Manson spoke softly but emotionally, a dramatic figure in baggy prison denims, hunched forward in his chair.
Rebutting testimony of a witness who said he ordered the killings, Manson said: “I don’t even like to eat meat because that is how much I am against killing. So, you have got the guy that is against killing on the witness stand, and you are all asking him to kill you.”
Repeatedly Manson professed love for the society which had jailed him, saying, “I don’t disliked you…You are my blood. You are my brother.”
But suddenly, he announced, “If I could I would jerk this microphone off and beat your brains out with it because that is what you deserve. That is what you deserve.”
By LINDA DEUTSCH