Watson Faked Insanity, Psychiatrist Tells Court

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 24 — The assistant superintendent of Atascadero State Hospital testified Thursday that Charles “Tex” Watson was “malingering, playing the perfect fool” at the hospital.

Dr. Alfred Owre, also a psychiatrist, said Watson suffered from depression, but not from any mental disease, during his 111 days at the hospital.

He said he brought Watson, 25, out of his depression by angering him to the point when Watson shouted, “I could kill you… I could kill now.” From then on, he added, Watson was a “model patient.”

His testimony came in the eighth week of Watson’s Los Angeles Superior Court trial on seven counts of murder and one of conspiracy in the August 1969 slayings of actress Sharon Tate and six others.

Charles Manson, to whose hippie-style clan Watson belonged, and three female co-defendants already have been convicted of the slayings in a separate trial and sentenced to die in the gas chamber.

Watson, the last defendant to stand trial in the case, was sent to the state mental hospital last fall after he was declared an insane “vegetable” who went into catatonic trances and would not eat. He stayed there until rated fit to stand trial.

Owre, called by the prosecution as a rebuttal witness, said Watson closed his usually open mouth and “conversed normally with other patients” at the hospital when he didn’t know he was being observed.

He said he interviewed Watson four times during the latter’s stay at Atascadero and saw him casually four or five times.

Watson’s failure to relate to other people at the hospital was in reality “playing it cool,” the psychiatrist said.

Owre’s testimony was in sharp contrast with that given by previous psychiatrists, all of whom said Watson suffered from psychosis but differed as to what type and if it impaired his ability to premeditate murder.

Watson has pleaded innocent and innocent by reason of insanity to the seven slayings. His lawyers contend he was not responsible for the murders because he was under the influence, of both hallucinogenic drugs and Manson.

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