Watson Still Fighting Tate Case Extradition

McKINNEY, Tex., Feb. 16 – Charles Watson, a principal figure in the Sharon Tate slayings resumes his courtroom fight Monday against extradition to California.

Attorneys for Watson, 24, of nearby Copeville, are seeking to invalidate Texas Gov. Preston Smith’s warrants ordering Watson’s return to California for trial.

He is charged with several members of Charles Manson’s hippy-type “family” in the knife and pistol slayings last Aug. 9 of the blond, beautiful Miss Tate — an actress — and others.

Texas and California authorities testified at a hearing here Jan. 16 that Watson’s fingerprints matched a print found on the front door of Miss Tate’s Los Angeles residence where the slaying occurred.

Watson surrendered to Collin County officers Nov. 30 and has been in jail here, fighting extradition, since that time.

Monday’s hearing will be a continuance of a hearing last month on a writ at habeas corpus flied by Watson’s attorney, Bill Boyd, of McKinney.

Dist. Judge David Brown granted the continuance in response to a defense plea that more time was needed to gather evidence showing that, because of extensive pretrial publicity, Watson cannot get a fair trial in California.

“There exists an atmosphere in all of the state of California at this time which would make it impossible for Charles Watson to receive a fair trial…” Boyd contended.

Dist. Atty. Tom Ryan has dismissed much of Boyd’s legal moves as “stall tactics” and last month told the court:

“This man’s extradition to California is as inevitable as death.”

Ryan contends the only issues before this court are the validity of the governor’s extradition warrant and establishing that Watson is the same Charles Watson indicted by a Los Angeles grand jury.

The latter issue, Ryan said, was established through fingerprints at the Jan. 16 hearing. He said the validity of the extradition warrant would be shown Monday.

The district attorney said he expected Judge Brown to “rule one way or another” Monday. If he refuses the defense writ, Watson would be held for extradition to California.

However, Ryan said, it is likely that Boyd would then seek relief through the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin.

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