Closing Arguments at Tate Murder Trial Interrupted by Charles Manson’s Growls
Thursday, January 14th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 14 – Charles Manson voiced his own form of protest yesterday when he heard the prosecutor at the Tate-LaBianca murder trial describe him as a “vicious, diabolical murderer who gave the order that caused seven human beings to end up in the cold earth.”
“Grrr…,” growled Manson as he peered through a screened enclosure in the door of a holding cell adjacent to the courtroom where he and three female followers are on trial for the August, 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others.
It was the second time in a matter of minutes that Manson had interrupted the final arguments of prosecutor Vincent T. Bugliosi.
The first time Manson interrupted the prosecutor was as Bugliosi was engaged in a biting attack against the cult chieftain’s lawyer, Irving A. Kanarek.
The prosecutor, among other things, referred to Kanarek as an “ink bag,” “smoke screen” and a man who had deliberately slandered both the Los Angeles Police Dept. and the district attorney’s office.
“Are you trying Irving Kanarek?” Manson shouted. “He’s not my lawyer.”
The interruption did not stop the prosecutor, however, and he said of the defense attorney:
“There is no depth to which Irving Kanarek will not sink to get an acquittal.”
An objection was imposed by another lawyer, Maxwell Keith, and after a brief conference at Trial Judge Charles N. Older’s bench, the seven-man five-woman jury was admonished to disregard the statement.
It also was learned that while the attorneys were at the bench, Judge Older told the prosecutor to refrain from any further personal attacks on Kanarek.
Bugliosi’s somewhat unusual final argument amounted to a massive personal tirade against all four defense lawyers.
Bugliosi, during the first part of his argument singled out Atty. Paul J. Fitzgerald, who represents 23-year-old Patricia Krenwinkel.
The prosecutor claimed that as he listened to Fitzgerald’s argument, he found that the defense attorney “misstated the evidence so many times that I at first thought…that he was deliberately trying to mislead.”
Bugliosi said during other cases he had tried with Fitzgerald, he had found the attorney to be “ethical.” But this time, he contended, the lawyer had not done his homework.
Another battle, meanwhile, was going on between the prosecutor and Kanarek.
Kanarek imposed no less than 10 objections during the first hour of Bugliosi’s summation and finally the prosecutor said:
“I’m going to get through this argument despite the gross misconduct of Mr. Kanarek.”
Kanarek leaped to his feet to object and Trial Judge Older admonished the jury to disregard the prosecutor’s statement.
Bugliosi then told the jury he would have a “few words” to say about Kanarek later.
Bugliosi also told the jury that Manson and the others were “guilty as sin” of the murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others.
He said although the defense team was familiar with the law, “they didn’t learn how to pull a rabbit out of the hat when there isn’t any rabbit.”
The prosecutor compared the defense arguments to an ink screen put out by an octopus “because that’s the only defense they’ve got to seven counts of murder.”
Bugliosi also told the jury his final argument would last two and a half to three days, meaning deliberation probably will not begin until Monday.
When Bugliosi got around to Kanarek, he said the defense attorney “in his argument…not only misstated the evidence…he actually created and manufactured and invented his own evidence.”
The prosecutor suggested that Kanarek crept into the courtroom at night and conducted his own trial with puppets.
He termed Kanarek’s summation as “Irving’s pregnant, fertile world of Alice in Wonderland.”
“Am I suffering from an intellectual hernia?” the prosecutor asked the jury. “What kind of madness is this…?”
Bugliosi also poked fun at Kanarek’s phraseology. “According to Irving Kanarek…none of these victims were murdered; they weren’t even killed, they just passed away.”
Kanarek continually has used the term as a substitution for the word killing.
Bugliosi also pointed out Kanarek continually used terms such as “we jurors and us jurors.”
“Apparently he thinks he’s the 13th juror in this case. There won’t be any lawyers back in the jury room during your deliberations,” the prosecutor said.
When he got around to Keith, attorney for 21-year-old Leslie Van Houten. Bugliosi told the jury he really didn’t mean it when he termed the defendants “mindless robots,” “Zombies” and “automotons.”
Keith, the final defense voice heard by the jury, Tuesday neatly turned the prosecutor’s words against him and suggested robots could not form the intent to commit murder.
“He knows very, very we’ll that…the words are merely a figure of speech, that these defendants were slavishly devoted” to Manson, Bugliosi said.
He said Keith pointed out “that Manson completely dominated these defendants,” a remark with which the prosecutor concurred.
Referring to Daye Shinn, 22-year-old Susan Atkins’ lawyer, Bugliosi said little except to apologize to the jury for the short summation.
By the end of the afternoon, Bugliosi apparently had wrapped up his attacks on the defense counsel and concentrated his remarks on the evidence.
This presumably will be the tack he will take today and perhaps tomorrow as he continues his presentation to the jury.
But at tunes the prosecutor earlier singled out his chief rival, Kanarek, as a “Toscanini of Tedium” and contended the attorney “demeaned the dignity of this court.”
Recalling a remark Manson’s lawyer made about the trial, which has labeled the proceedings a “circus,” Bugliosi said “every circus must have a clown.”
Although blaming Kanarek for the marathon nature of the trial, the prosecutor said Keith, who represents 21-year-old Miss Van Houten, was a good attorney, but hastily added even the “late and great Clarence Darrow” wouldn’t be able to win acquittals.
Keith’s argument “was so much smoke screen…that it should have been reported to the Air Pollution Control District,” Bugliosi said.