Two Jurors in Manson Family Trial Excused
Friday, February 16th, 1973
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 16 – Two jurors in the robbery trial of four Charles Manson followers have been excused after receiving telephoned death threats, it was learned Thursday.
In excusing juror Michael Fiores, Superior Judge Arthur Alarcon described those who made the phone calls as “evil, slimy people who came out from under their rocks.”
Discussing the matter with Flores in open court but out of the presence of other jurors, Alarcon said, “There is absolutely no evidence that any of these defendants had anything to do with it.”
Flores told the judge that he felt he could not render a fair and impartial verdict at this point and said, “I don’t want to take it out on the wrong people.”
Although Alarcon made no public disclosure of it, a source close to the case revealed that a woman juror had been excused Tuesday, the same day that she and Flores received the threatening phone calls.
Alarcon indicated that the call to Flores “threatened his life and that of his family if he voted for conviction.”
The current jury makeup is seven women and five men. With the replacement of the two jurors this week, no alternates are available. Should something prompt another juror to be excused, it would create a mistrial.
Defendants in the trial are Mary Brunner, 23; Catherine (Gypsy) Share, 30; Kenneth Como, 33, and Lawrence Bailey, 23.
They are charged with two armed robberies, which Dep. Dist. Atty. Harland Braun claims were committed to further a plan to aid Manson in a prison break.
The suspects were captured Aug. 21, 1971, when police allegedly caught them in the act of stealing 143 weapons from a Hawthorne surplus store.
The other robbery count involves a $2,600 holdup at a beer distributing company in Covina eight days earlier.
The expected appearance of the three “family” women convicted with Manson in the Sharon Tate-Leno LaBianca murders again was delayed as defense attorneys and their clients disagreed on tactics.
At one point, Richard Hirsch, attorney for Miss Share, and Howard Weitzman, who represents Miss Brunner, asked to be relieved as counsel but their request was turned down by Alarcon.
The central dispute seems to be that defense attorneys feel the testimony of Manson and other murderers subpoenaed to testify in their clients’ behalf actually would jeopardize their chances with the jury.
Alarcon refused to let the four defendants confer with Manson or any of the other murderers subpoenaed on the basis that it would create a severe security risk.
The judge described the 12 defense witnesses as “some of the most vicious murderers anywhere.”
Como said that it was necessary for him and his three codefendants to personally meet with the witnesses, claiming that “we are from a so-called subculture and operate on a different level from you.”
Miss Share took the witness stand late in the day Thursday and denied that she took part in either robbery.
She conceded that she drove the defendants to the Hawthorne surplus store in a van but maintained she had no idea a holdup was planned.
Asked by Braun if she saw anybody shoot from the van during a confrontation with police, Miss Share replied, “I did not. I was shot. I was bleeding, and I thought I was dying. That’s really all I can say about it.”
By WILLIAM FARR