Mary Brunner, Manson Follower, Gets Life Term

LOS ANGELES, Mar. 21 – Mary Brunner, one of four Charles Manson followers convicted of committing two August, 1971, armed robberies as part of a plan to free the cult leader from prison, Tuesday received a 20-year to life sentence.

Miss Brunner is an Eau Claire native and a former librarian at the University of Wisconsin Memorial Library.

In handing down the sentence, Superior Judge Arthur H. Alarcon said, “Whether as a leader or as a follower, Miss Brunner is an extremely dangerous person.”

The judge recalled the trial testimony of a psychiatrist who said the defendant had such an “icy, callous determination” to free Manson that she would have killed if necessary.

Howard Weitzman, Miss Brunner’s attorney, asked that the judge give her concurrent instead of consecutive terms, arguing that he thought she would be able to conduct herself in “a socially acceptable manner” after a period of time in custody.

Weitzman preceded this unsuccessful request by stating, “I think it would be unrealistic for me to argue that my client is an ideal candidate for probation.”

Miss Brunner was convicted Feb. 21 with three other Manson “family” members of taking 143 rifles and $630 in cash from a Hawthorne surplus store and $2,600 from a Covina beer distributorship.

Sentencing for Kenneth Como, 33, Katherine (Gypsy) Share, 30, and Lawrence Bailey, 23, was scheduled for later this week.

The prosecution had theorized that the two holdups were part of a plan to break Manson out of prison. Dennis Rice, a Manson “family” member who pleaded guilty to the Hawthorne robbery, conceded this was true while testifying as a defense witness.

In the hearing, Weitzman advised the judge that Como wanted him to perform a marriage ceremony with Miss Share.

“Como said that if for some reason he couldn’t marry Gypsy, he would like to take Mary (Brunner) as his wife,” Weitzman said. The judge vetoed the marriage ceremony request.

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