Watson Admits Slayings, Denies Stabbing Sharon Tate
Thursday, September 2nd, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 2 — Charles “Tex” Watson yesterday admitted on the witness stand taking part in the mass murders at the home of actress Sharon Tate, but insisted it was not he who stabbed the pregnant actress.
The 25-year-old follower of Charles Manson told a Superior Court jury he had taken a variety of drugs during the day before the bloody killings in August 1969.
He said the drugs were LSD “speed” and “belladonna.”
“I couldn’t make it out,” he said, referring to the victim. “They were just blobs.”
Asked if he felt any grief over the victims, Watson replied:
“No. None at all. I was doing what Charlie told me to do.”
Watson, charged with seven counts of murder and one of conspiracy, took the witness stand in his own defense and gave a long account of how he came under Manson’s influence and ultimately went on the murder mission.
Manson and three women followers previously were convicted and sentenced to the gas chamber for the Tate-LaBianca slayings.
Under direct examination by defense attorney Sam Bubrick, Watson said he was ordered by Manson to drive to the Benedict Canyon home and “kill everyone as gruesome as I could.”
He said he was up all night the night before the murders and ate a root containing “belladonna.”
“I remember seeing Sadie (Susan Atkins) and Linda Kasabian when the sun came up. They were in black, all black,” Watson testified.
He said he went into a shack and was “out all day” but was awakened for dinner.
“I had a lot of energy, but not a lot of pep, so I took some ‘speed’,” he said.
Although he did not eat dinner, he sat with the rest of the family.
“Everybody was taking acid that night, I was told. So I took some acid,” Watson told the jury in the court of Superior Judge Adolph Alexander.
He said Manson called him over behind a car, “handed me a gun and knife and said take them and go up where Terry Melcher used to live and kill everyone as gruesome as I could.”
“Did he tell you who lived there?” asked Bubrick.
“He said some movie stars,” Watson answered.
No one else was present during the conversation in which Manson “continued to tell me what he wanted done,” Watson said.
Manson told him there were bolt cutters in the back of the car to cut the (telephone) wires, and to write something on the walls,” he continued.
Afterwards, the group was to “wash off, throw away the guns and knives, throw away the clothes, and come back to the (Spahn) Ranch,” he said Manson told him.
He found Patricia Krenwinkel, Miss Atkins and Mrs. Kasabian waiting in the car and they drove off with Mrs. Kasabian driving, he said.
“Did you say anything while the car was being driven?” Bubrick asked.
“No, my head was in one of the girls’ lap,” Watson replied.
Watson recalled walking up the hill to the Tate residence carrying a knife in one hand and a gun in the other, “just the way they were given to me.”
Before he and the three girls climbed a fence surrounding the property and continued up the driveway, he said, “car lights flashed on us and a car came up and stopped.”
“Nothing was said by anybody. I stuck the gun in and shot,” Watson continued.
“Shot what?” Bubrick asked.
“The guy,” Watson replied.
“How many times did you shoot,” the defense attorney asked.
“I don’t know. All I know is I could see and hear Charlie’s voice saying ‘Kill everyone in the place’,” he said.
“Did he take any form or shape?” Bubrick asked.
“Kind of a mass. I felt like I was in a dream, half awake, half not,” Watson answered.
After that, he said, he started walking up to the house and did not see the girls again until he was inside.
“I walked to the front door and walked right in the door. It wasn’t locked,” he went on.
Once inside, “I saw Sadie. She just popped up,” he said.
A man was lying on the couch and Miss Atkins went past and started bringing people out into the front room, he said.
The man on the couch woke up when everyone was coming into the front room, he testified.
“The other man in the house started walking toward me – I was running and jumping behind the couch and making funny noises.
“Sadie said ‘Watch out’ and I emptied the gun at him,” he continued.
“I ran around the couch and stabbed him. Katie (Miss Krenwinkel) was already stabbing him,” he said.
“Sadie hollered ‘Tex, Tex’ and a man was running out the door, so I hit him a while with the gun,” Watson testified
“He ran outside and Sadie was stabbing him and I went over and stabbed him more.
“Katie grabbed my arm and said ‘There’s one over here.'” he said.
“I went over and a woman was laying on the ground and I stabbed her.”
Watson denied taking a rope to the house, although a rope was found tied around the necks of Miss Tate and Jay Sebring.
He said he did stab a man inside the house but that was the only person he stabbed.
Bubrick asked, “Did you touch any of the bodies after they’d been stabbed?”
Watson denied touching, moving or tying up the bodies after they were dead.
He said he did not go back into the house or write on the walls.
He said he was not the person who cut a screen at the Tate residence.
Asked if he heard any noises during the killings, Watson said. “It was wild, it was loud, there were all kinds of noises.”
“Did they beg for their lives?” Bubrick asked.
“No…there was just screams or loud noises.”
Asked if the people had any expression, Watson answered, “They had form, but I didn’t see any expression, just blobs.”
Before stepping down from the witness box, Watson said that the following day Manson gave him a knife and some acid and that they set out in a car.
Watson is due to resume his testimony this morning.
Earlier Watson told how the chance pickup of a hitchhiker led him to his first meeting with Manson.
He said he met Manson after picking up Dennis Wilson, a member of the Beach Boys singing group, while driving down Sunset Blvd. in early 1968.
Watson 25, said he drove Wilson to the singer’s Pacific Palisades home where Manson and “a bunch of girls” were staying.
Watson said he stayed at Wilson’s home for a couple of hours before driving back to a home he shared in Malibu with a fraternity brother from North Texas State University.
After the initial meeting with Manson, Watson said, he would return on occasion “and go swimming in the pool.”
Wilson “wasn’t home a lot” Watson said, but he became friends with Dean Moorehouse, the caretaker at the estate.
Eventually Wilson asked him to move in, Watson said, adding that at the time he ”didn’t really have a place to stay.'”
Once he had moved into Wilson’s home, Watson said, Moorehouse “would be talking to me all the time about dropping out of society, about society — they had a lot of wants and desires — lot of thoughts in their heads. It was destroying the love in the world.”
Watson said that after he had been talking with Moorehouse he gave his ancient truck and most of his possessions to Manson.
Watson told the jury that the first time he had visited the Benedict Canyon home where Miss Tate and the four other persons were murdered was in late 1968 when he went to the estate with Moorehouse.
At the time, Terry Melcher, the son of actress Doris Day, was living in the home.
On Tuesday, Watson’s mother took the witness stand and tearfully described the changes that occurred in her son after he went to California and met a man named Charles Manson.
She said that when Watson returned home briefly in 1968 he was changed, spoke of impending “revolution” and of “a man called Jesus who was named Manson.”
Mrs. Watson of Copeville, Texas told about her son’s early days. He was “our pride and joy,” she said. He was an honor student, an excellent athlete, went to church and helped out in the family owned general store.
In 1967, he quit college after attending for three years and went to California against his family’s wishes, she told the jury.
Mrs. Watson said she visited her son here in January of 1968 and found him to be “the same old Charles.”
But by December of 1968, he was a changed man, she said.
That December, Mrs. Watson said, her son returned to Texas briefly.
“His voice sounded funny,” she said, frequently breaking into tears.
Earlier Judge Alexander refused to dismiss two of the murder counts against Watson.
Defense attorney Bubrick asked that the charges invoking the murder of Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary be dismissed on grounds the prosecution failed to produce sufficient evidence.
But Judge Alexander disagreed.
At a hearing outside the presence of the jury, Judge Alexander also ordered the removal of several color photographs of bodies and murder scenes from the file of prosecution exhibits.