Tate Jury Given OK to Go Home After 7 Months
Wednesday, February 17th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 17 – Climaxing a day of surprises, the five-woman, seven-man jury hearing the penalty phase of the Tate-LaBianca murder trial and who have been sequestered for the past seven months, were told Tuesday they could go home.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Older admonished the startled jury that they could return to their homes beginning today and for each night for the remainder of the marathon trial.
Judge Older warned the jurors they were not to talk about the case to friends or relatives and also admonished newsmen covering the trial that they were not to attempt to contact the jurors.
The decision was obviously the result of a request by telephone maintenance man Larry Sheely of Paramount that he could no longer serve on the panel because his wife was unable to cope with the fact that he was away from home for so long. Judge Older excused Sheely from the panel and drew the name of San Fernando housewife Mrs. Victoria Kampman.
Mrs. Kampman asked to speak to Judge Older in private but was denied the request and sworn in as a juror. Before she could resume her seat in the jury box, she fainted.
A recess was called and following lengthy conferences Sheely was recalled as a juror, Mrs. Kampman was told to resume her seat as an alternate and the jury was advised it could go home nights.
Chief defense counsel Paul Fitzgerald told newsmen he opposed letting the jury go home because of “enormous possibilities of the jurors being intimidated.”
Fitzgerald also claimed that the move to unseat one juror and swear in another, then reverse that action was not only “unprecedented but illegal.”
The prosecution, which last week opposed any move to let the jury go home, reversed that position Tuesday and offered no opposition to Judge Older’s decision.
The trial was recessed until Thursday to allow the jurors to move from their Ambassador Hotel headquarters to their residences.
By MARY NEISWENDER