Watson Defense Counsel Counters State Witnesses
Tuesday, September 28th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 28 — The prosecution in the trial of Charles (Tex) Watson rested its rebuttal case yesterday and the defense opened its surrebuttal.
Watson 25, is the remaining defendant accused of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders. Charles Manson and three women followers already have been convicted and condemned to the gas chamber.
Defense Alty. Sam Burbrick was the first surrebuttal witness.
He testified he told Watson last year not to discuss the murders with anyone in jail or at Atascadero State Hospital, where he was sent after being judged “presently insane.”
Watson was returned to Los Angeles for trial several weeks later after he was pronounced “cured.”
Bubrick’s testimony was in connection with several prosecution rebuttal witnesses, who claimed Watson refused to talk about ‘the deaths.
The attorney testified Watson thought deputies were going into his cell through the bars and that a television camera was trained on him constantly.
Watson did not tell Bubrick about the murders until after he returned from Atascadero and had been examined at UCLA, the lawyer said.
“I decided not to question him at all so it would be his memory and I would not suggest a story to him,” Bubrick explained.
The final prosecution rebuttal witness was UCLA psychiatrist Joel Hackman, who was the sixth psychiatrist to testify Watson was capable of premeditating murder.
The defense surrebuttal was expected to last only one day, with the case in recess tomorrow, Superior Judge Adolph Alexander told the jury.
He said final arguments will begin Thursday.
Earlier a neurologist who tested Watson at Atascadero testified he found no evidence of brain damage.
Dr. Rolf G. Scherman was called to the stand as a rebuttal witness as the prosecution continued to hammer away at defense testimony saying Watson was psychotic and suffering from brain damage because of extended use of drugs.
Dr. Scherman said that he found “entirely normal” brain waves when he tested Watson at the state institution earlier this year.
Asked why his findings differed from those of a UCLA neurologist who said Watson did have brain damage, Dr. Scherman said it was a difference in interpretation. He said drowsiness from medication may have been interpreted as evidence of brain damage.
Another prosecution rebuttal witness was Dr. Edward Eklund, Watson’s attending physician at Atascadero.
He said he, too, found no evidence of mental illness. “His behavior at all times was entirely normal,” said Dr. Eklund.
Watson is being tried separately over the seven murders because of delays in extraditing him from Texas last year. Manson and three women followers previously were convicted and sentenced to the gas chamber.