Texas Okays Tate Case Extradition
Thursday, May 7th, 1970
AUSTIN, Tex., May 7 – The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals yesterday upheld a lower court order sending Charles Denton Watson, 24, to California to stand trial on charges he helped murder actress Sharon Tate and six other persons last summer.
Lawyers for the former Texas high school football star claimed Watson could not get a fair trial in Los Angeles because of widespread publicity given the slayings there.
“We have no reason or right to prejudice a case to be tried in another state and will not do so,” said Judge Leon Douglas of the appellate court in upholding a district court extradition order.
Bill Boyd of McKinney, Tex., Watson’s chief attorney, appeared before the Austin court two weeks ago to ask for more time to fight Watson’s extradition to California. But the court said yesterday a postponement would “delay the final decision for so long a time that our constitutional right to habeas corpus could be suspended and made meaningless.”
Boyd admitted he was trying to delay extradition on technical grounds to keep Watson from being tried with Charles Manson and other members of his hippy family accused in the Tate murders.
Watson was arrested at McKinney, his hometown, last November 30. ‘Susan Denise Atkins, 21, a former Manson girl friend, told police in a statement that Watson helped in the slayings in August 1969 in a hilltop mansion outside Los Angeles.
Gov. Preston Smith on Jan. 6 ordered Watson returned to California to stand trial for murder, but Boyd contested the order in district court.
“The proper forum to decide when the trial should be held is in the California court,” Douglas said. “The review of the trial, if any, will be in the appellate courts of that state.”
Watson’s lawyers have 15 days to file for a rehearing before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. If they do, arguments on such a motion would be held in two weeks after it was filed.
If no rehearing was requested, the Texas Appeals Court on May 22 would issue an order for the Austin District Court to have Watson extradited. That court then would tell California authorities to come and get him.
Watson was a schoolboy athlete at Copeville and Farmersville, two small rural Texas towns northeast of Dallas near McKinney. He attended North Texas State University in Denton, then transferred to a Los Angeles area college.