Manson Refuses to Give Direct Reply
Friday, July 16th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Jul. 16 — Charles Manson refused to give a straight answer Thursday when the judge at his trial for two additional murders asked the cult leader if he still wanted to enter a guilty plea.
Manson interrupted jury selection Wednesday to announce he wanted to plead guilty to the slayings of movie stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea and musician Gary Hinman. Manson already has been convicted of the seven Tate-LaBianca murders and sentenced to death.
Superior Court Judge Raymond Choate refused to accept the plea because Manson’s lawyer, Irving Kanarek, would not agree. Choate appointed attorney Howard Beckler to advise Manson whether be should enter a guilty plea.
Choate asked Manson at the start of proceedings Thursday if it was still his desire to plea guilty.
“I wish to start all over,” Manson said.
Manson had talked with Beckler Wednesday afternoon and afterwards the lawyer said he felt it was not ethical for him to advise Manson while Kanarek was still the attorney of record.
The judge asked Manson if he wished to confer again with Beckler and the defendant replied, “yes.”
Choate warned Manson about any further courtroom outbursts in the presence of prospective jurors about making a guilty plea, telling him it would be at his own risk.
“I’m not going to declare a mistrial or start proceedings over again merely because you make those statements,” the judge said.
Manson Wednesday muttered that “I chopped off his head,” apparently referring to Shea since Hinman was stabbed to death. Shea’s body has never been found.
Manson said he told Kanarek Wednesday “that I was prepared to do about anything to get this damn thing over.” Questioning of prospective jurors has already taken more than five weeks with no indication how much longer will be required. The first trial lasted a little more than 10 months.