No Decision On Tex Tapes

Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Aug. 31 – Judge William C. Ryan will need more time before deciding whether to order the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office to turn over copies of the Tex tapes to Leslie Van Houten’s attorney Richard Pfeiffer.

At a hearing held today at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Ryan said he had only read about 85 pages of the transcript and that he will make a decision after he finishes it, possibly in the next few days.

Attorneys for Van Houten have sought copies of the tapes for nearly four years, believing they contained information relevant to Leslie’s parole suitability.

In January, Van Houten filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant to People v. Franklin, contending she was entitled an opportunity to create a record of mitigating evidence in support of youth offender parole. After a series of briefs from Pfeiffer and Lebowitz, Judge Sam Ohta ruled in Van Houten’s favor, granting her the hearing.

Two weeks ago, Ohta heard arguments from Pfeiffer and Deputy District Attorney Donna Lebowitz at a motion hearing. Ohta requested both parties file discovery briefs.

In her brief, Lebowitz argued that Van Houten wasn’t entitled to the tapes because the penal code limits discovery to only cases with sentences of life without parole or death. Further, she argued that discovery would be limited to materials that Van Houten would’ve been entitled to at the time of trial.

“Here, the material sought consists of statements then protected by an attorney / client privilege,” wrote Lebowitz. “The material sought consists of tape recorded conversations between fellow Manson Family member, Charles “Tex” Watson and his retained attorney, in 1969, while awaiting extradition from Texas, to stand trial in California for the murders at the Tate and LaBianca residences. Petitioner would never have been entitled to such statements at the time of trial. As a result, she is not presently entitled to them under the law.”

However, the Tex Watson tapes were not protected by an attorney – client privilege when Van Houten was tried in 1978. According to records, Watson waived his attorney-client privilege in September of 1976, two years earlier.

Today’s hearing also featured testimony from former Manson family member, Catherine Share, who met Van Houten in San Francisco in the summer of 1968 and encouraged her to come to Spahn Ranch.

Dr. Elizabeth Cauffman was called as an expert witness and testified how Van Houten’s youthful features related to her commitment offense.

Although much of today’s headlines focused on Share’s testimony, the biggest news coming out of today’s hearing was that LAPD Homicide Detective Dan Jenks told Judge Ryan that there wasn’t any ongoing investigations involving the Tex tapes. This is contrary to what the LAPD and District Attorney’s office have been telling people, including Van Houten’s attorneys, for years.

In 2015, Head Deputy District Attorney John Morris wrote Van Houten’s attorney Christie Webb, stating:

“The District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office all agree that we cannot provide the tape(s) you have requested because there are unsolved crimes Manson Family members are suspected of committing. The information contained in the tape(s) are part of the investigation of those crimes and could be used to solve them. Releasing the tape(s) could endanger the investigation those (sic) crimes.”

Pfeiffer plans to use the record of today’s hearing to bolster Van Houten’s chances of parole. Van Houten is scheduled to appear before the Board of Parole Hearings on September 6th.

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8 Responses to No Decision On Tex Tapes

  1. Louis says:

    Van Houten did not attend the hearing in part because she recently broke her knee. How did she do this?

  2. Louis says:

    You can pray all you want, isn’t going to help. Where the Governor has the final say, makes it pure politics at this point. She should have been out 25 years ago.

  3. johnnyseattle says:

    Louis, 25 years ago is a lifetime of different Governors…

  4. Louis says:

    The Parole Board should have the say. They don’t in Cali. Some States, the Board says a person deserves parole, they get it. As it should be. What’s an elected official doing having the say over the Board. Makes it politics.

  5. Paul Cimino says:

    the governer of california can only veto a parole board decision to grant parole to a prison , if the crime was murder , and in california , most veto’s have been manson family related , when these young kids went to that house at 10050 ceilo drive ( ceilo= the pathway to heaven) , they are know under the power of debra tate , saying this woman knows a lot of people in very high places is like saying did anyone see that wedding on tv in 1981 on some ABC soap opera where this guy named luke married some girl named laura so forth and so on …..

  6. Fayez Abedaziz says:

    It appears that an immediate awareness of common sense and a look at some facts, will show that:
    Tex gave up the privilege to that attorney-client confidentiality years ago. In ’76.
    Also: the detectives in the L.A. area are not looking into crimes by the former ‘members of the Manson family.’
    Then,
    the relevance of what’s on the Tex tapes should not be up to the D.A.’s office/police department to decide and then ‘that’s that.’
    That should be up to the court, though I say, what’s the problem to begin with?
    The court should be told, informed, as it were, that there is definitely a relevance here
    and that this is an action of ‘discovery,’ for the defense-that is, are you all ready for this…
    because Tex was there with the crime Leslie was charged with!!
    So, the above shows that the D.A.’s office in L.A. has been and continues to…let me put this politely: to be shady and…saying, making statements and arguments that are not true.
    Facts are facts.
    Withholding of these tapes reminds one of actions by a ‘police state,’ secret procedures,
    that of dictatorships, as in, screw you, we’re the ones with power…
    Okay, check this sentence out, if you will,
    Why in the world, some of us continue to scratch our heads, and ask,
    won’t they really release them to a defense attorney, and by the way, yeah, to the public.
    Why not?
    Here, for your approval and perusal are two reasons, I’m quite sure of
    .
    1- There is something on the tapes that would help Leslie, or, that would actually help the situation of the other two girls or of that of even brother Charlie.
    2- What has been going on for over 45 years: meanness and pure hate for the 3
    girls, as so many convicted killers have been release after 19, and some after 30 years, in California.
    I know there is still ongoing debates about this and that, but, let me ask you all a question
    well, make that a question for every judge and attorney in the U.S. too-
    Shouldn’t ‘equal treatment under the law’ also include that treatment in parole hearings/granting?
    Well…?
    Shouldn’t that be up to the prison officials, counselors there and to the parole board?
    And to the 2008 California Supreme Court ruling: the most important factor is, is the inmate seriously a danger to society/

    Think about the above and you will see: that really should be, as we used to say in the late 60’s, “where it’s at.”

  7. Lee says:

    Young kids? WTF? They were in their early 20s. Van Houten 19. That isn’t exactly toddler age. You know right from wrong at that age. They didn’t have to participate in a deadly home invasion. Making excuses for these scum bags, then talking sh*t about a victim’s sister is beyond despicable.

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