Watson Called Calculated Killer in Closing Argument
Friday, October 1st, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 1 — Charles (Tex) Watson was depicted yesterday as a level-headed man who took charge of the band of Manson cultists on the nights Actress Sharon Tate and six others were killed.
The description of Watson as a calculated killer came from Dep. Dist. Atty. Stephen Kay in the prosecution’s closing arguments to the Superior Court jury trying the 20-year-old defendant for the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders.
Terming the killings “the most brutal murders in American history,” Kay aid Watson premeditated them long before they were committed.
Watson, the remaining defendant in the Tate-LaBianca case, has entered a double plea of innocent and innocent by reason of insanity.
He admitted on the witness stand during the trial that he killed, but Kay said what Watson did not admit was that it was he who led the band of killers and gave orders.
Watson “wanted to convince you he was out of his mind with drugs; that he had no thoughts, but was programmed by Charles Manson, and that the girls gave him orders,” Kay told the jury.
He said Watson’s action on the nights of the murders showed that he intended to kill and understood the consequences when he:
– Wore dark clothing to the murder sites.
– Took a change of clothing, knowing he would be covered with blood.
– Discussed the layout of the Tate house as he drove directly to it.
– Hid his car, “an old clunker,” which would have seemed out of place in the exclusive Benedict Canyon area where Miss Tate lived.
– Sent Linda Kasabian to act as a lookout.
– Told Mrs. Kasabian to wipe the fingerprints off the weapons and threw them away.
– Asked Manson for better weapons before going for the second night of murder.
Watson knew “long before” that the “family” would be committing such murders, since it was part of the daily discussion at Spahn Ranch in Chatsworth where they lived, Kay said.
In fact, Watson practiced with the murder gun at the ranch as two witnesses testified, Kay said. Instead of saying he practiced for fun, he lied and said he did not practice at all, the prosecutor argued.
Kay showed the jury three photographs of Watson – one from just be — one from just before he joined the Manson family, one from the time of the murders and one from the time of his arrest.
The prosecutor said he thought the jury would be “shocked to see that the Watson described as an ‘All-American boy’ before he joined the family actually had long hair and a mustache.
He asked the jury if the alert-looking hippie in the photo from the summer of the murders in 1969 looked like the robot described by seven psychiatrists.
Kay recalled Watson’s mother’s testimony about the poor condition her son was in when he returned to Texas a month before his arrest and asked if they could believe it, seeing the healthy-looking man in the final photo.
Watson did not have diminished capacity, he had “diminished respect for the rights of these victims to live,” Kay said.
The defendant was not told what to do by the Manson “family” girls because “the girls in the Manson family — they’re all zeros,” Kay said. He said the girls had no authority.
He argued Watson told his girl friend, Dianne Lake, that he killed Miss Tate and “it was fun.”
“He still thinks it’s fun — he laughed when he told the psychiatrists about their deaths,” Kay said.
“If there is a devil, he’s never had two more loyal assistants than Charles Manson and Charles Watson,” the prosecutor declared.
Kay also reviewed testimony of seven defense psychiatrists and doctors and said their opinions were based on “speculation, incomplete information and an electroencephalogram which is in question.”
The psychiatrists “swallowed Watson’s story hook, line and sinker,” the deputy district attorney said.
“The only thing wrong with Watson is that after what he did he thinks he should be treated with courtesy and kindness,” he told the jury.
Kay said the psychiatrists all saw Watson this year, but “he did not murder in 1971 — the Watson incarcerated for two years is not the same person who committed the murders.
“No premeditated murderer is normal by society’s standards, but society does not require that he be normal to be punished, just that he knew what he was doing,” Kay said.