Manson To Be Own Lawyer In Trial For Tate Murders
Thursday, December 25th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 25 – Hippie tribe leader Charles Manson, whose formal education ended at fifth grade in a reform school, will act as his own lawyer at his trial for the slayings of actress Sharon Tate and six other persons.
Manson, 35, wearing a purple shirt open at the front and his hair down to his shoulders, was granted his wish to defend himself by Superior Court Judge William B. Keene at the end of a stormy one-hour court hearing Tuesday.
“It’s sad and tragic step but I find you have a full and complete conception of the consequences of acting as your own attorney,” Judge Keene said after he tried in vain to persuade Manson to have professional attorneys.
“I have stood before judges and said, yes sir, yes sir, all my life,” Manson said. “And all my life I have spent in jail. I like you as a person. But this court is trying to kill me. It is giving me advice with one hand and trying to put me in the gas chamber with the other.”
Keene finally granted Manson’s request and gave him until Jan. 14 to study he accusations in the grand jury transcript. At that time he will enter a formal plea to the charges at murdering seven persons in the Tate and LaBianca killings.
Keene asked Manson if he had an education past his fifth grade schooling.
“Yes, I like people and I listen,” Manson said.
Have you had an opportunity to study the law?”
“I’ve lived with it for 22 years,” Manson replied.
“I have considered the difference between innocence and guilt,” he added. “And I have no guilt and that will show. That’s all I have now.”