Watson Sentenced to Die in Tate-LaBianca Deaths
Friday, October 22nd, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 22 — Charles “Tex” Watson was given the death sentence yesterday for the Tate-LaBianca murders, making the gas chamber unanimous for the Charles Manson “family” members tried for the seven bloody slayings.
Watson, 25, was refused a possible penalty of life imprisonment by the same jury of six men and six women which had convicted him of first, degree murder and rejected his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Manson and three women followers, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, had been sentenced to death at the first trial which Watson, a one-time high school athletic star and excellent scholar, had avoided by fighting extradition from his hometown of McKinney, Tex.
Watson, dressed neatly in a dark blue jacket with shirt and tie, swallowed once when the court clerk read the jury’s verdict that death should be the sentence, but he did not alter the vacant, expression on his face, which he was displayed throughout the trial.
None of the Manson family members was in the courtroom. Virtually all of them were in jail following Wednesday’s sweep-up of six members as accomplices in the sensational escape from the Hall of Justice jail of Kenneth Como, 31.
Watson had admitted on the stand that he took part in all seven killings at the home of actress Sharon Tate and Grocer Leno LaBianca.
His hopes were based on psychiatrists’ testimony that he was psychotic and blindly following the orders of Manson.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted both trials, said it was not a pleasurable experience for a jury to bring in a death verdict or a prosecutor to ask for it.
“However, our position with regard to these seven savage murders was that they were totally absent of any extenuating circumstances, so that if this case did not warrant the death penalty, then no case ever would.”