Prosecution Rests Case in ‘Tex’ Watson Murder Trial
Friday, August 27th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 27 — The state rested its case yesterday in the trial of Charles “Tex” Watson, the fifth defendant to be tried in connection with the Tate-LaBianca murders.
Watson’s trial began with jury selection last Aug. 2, meaning prosecutor Vincent T. Bugliosi wrapped up his case against the 25-year-old Manson follower in less than a month.
This was in marked contrast to the five months it took Bugliosi to present the state’s case against Charles Manson and three female followers last year. All were convicted of the 1969 killings and this spring sentenced to die in the gas chamber.
The Manson trial, as it was called, may have been the longest murder trial in history. It lasted nearly 10 months.
Superior Court Judge Adolph Alexander recessed the trial until Tuesday at 11 a.m. to allow court-appointed defense attorneys Sam Burbrick and Maxwell Keith prepare their case.
Watson has entered a double plea of innocent and innocent by reason of insanity, meaning that if the six-man, six-woman jury convicts him, another trial will be held to determine his sanity.
If he is judged sane, a penalty trial before the same jury will be held if the original conviction was for murder in the first degree.
Bugliosi called 47 witnesses against Watson, many who also appeared at the first trial. The witnesses include the state’s “star,” Linda Kasabian, a one-time defendant herself.
Mrs. Kasabian, who said she witnessed three of the murders, was granted immunity from prosecution and freed after she turned state’s evidence.
The 47 witnesses in Watson’s trial compared to the 84 called by Bugliosi in Manson’s trial. The cross-examination in the current case was shorter also, since there was only one set of defense attorneys, instead of three.
The shortness of the prosecution case also might be attributable to Watson’s behavior.
Manson and his “girls” disrupted their courtroom many times, prompting several halts in the proceedings. Watson, on the other hand, sits calmly at the counsel table in Judge Alexander’s courtroom and does little except have whispered conferences with his two lawyers.
Burbrick and Keith probably will seek dismissal of charges against Watson on grounds of insufficient evidence when court resumes Tuesday morning. The judge just as probably will deny the motion.
The Watson trial was delayed many months because of his fight against extradition from his native Texas.
When he finally was sent to Los Angeles, he spent several weeks in Atascadero State Hospital, a mental institution, after local psychiatrists determined him “presently insane.”
He was pronounced “cured” however, and sent back to Los Angeles for trial.