Defendant In Tate Deaths Fails To Disqualify Judge
Monday, March 16th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 16 – One of the defendants in the Tate-Labianca murder cases failed yesterday to remove Superior Judge William B. Keene as the jurist who will preside at her trial.
Superior Judge George M. Dell ruled a motion by the attorney for Patricia Krenwinkel to disqualify Judge Keene was “not timely filed.”
Judge Keene is scheduled to preside over the trial now set for March 30 for Miss Krenwinkel, 22, and four others accused of the last August slayings.
Miss Krenwinkel’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Paul Fitzgerald, filed an affidavit of prejudice against Judge Keene last Thursday.
The affidavit claimed Judge Keene was biased against Krenwinkel and could therefore not give her a fair trial.
Fitzgerald filed the affidavit with Judge Keene, who transferred the matter to Judge Dell, the presiding judge for the criminal courts master calendar.
Fitzgerald argued that under the California Code of Civil Procedure a motion to disqualify a trial judge for cause must be made five days before the scheduled trial.
The attorney noted he filed his affidavit 18 days before the trial. He argued that he believed judge Keene’s court was the proper place to file the affidavit, but in case Judge Dell disagreed, he filed a copy of the affidavit with Judge Dell yesterday.
However Judge Dell ruled a motion to disqualify Judge Keene should have been made in the master calendar court and should have been made last March 3 when he set Miss Krernwinkel’s trial date for March 30.
Judge Dell also pointed out Miss Krenwinkel was the last of five defendants formally charged in court with the slayings and that Fitzgerald knew Judge Keene was scheduled to handle the trial.
Miss Krenwinkel was the last of five to he arraigned on the charges because she fought extradition from Alabama.
Charles ‘Tex” Watson, 24, the sixth person charged in the slayings, is still fighting extradition from Texas.
Because he ruled the motion to disqualify Judge Keene was not timely, Judge Dell ordered the affidavit stricken. Miss Krenwinkel was the first Tate-LaBianca defendant to challenge Judge Keene.
Also charged with the murders are Charles Manson, 35, head of the clan to which the other defendants belong, Susan Denise Atkins, 21, Leslie Van Houten, 19 and Mrs. Linda Kasabian, 20.
Deputy District Attorney Vincent T. Bugliosi, co-prosecutor in the case, did not argue against Fitzgerald’s motion, but merely submitted the matter to Judge Dell. He later told newsmen he believed Judge Keene would give a fair trial to both the prosecution and the defense.
Miss Krenwinkel and Mrs. Kasabian are scheduled to appear March 24 before Superior Court Judge Malcolm M. Lucas for pretrial motions.
Fitzgerald refused to comment to newsmen about Judge Dell’s ruling, the affidavit or as to what the attorney now intended to do. To make such comments, Fitzgerald said would be “ethically improper.”
However, there were at least three courses of action open to the deputy public defender.
One was to abide by Judge Dell’s ruling and go to trial with Judge Keene presiding.
Another was to appeal the ruling before the State Court of Appeals.
The third was to challenge Judge Keene again. Such a second challenge would require proof of prejudice at a hearing before another judge mutually agreeable to both the prosecution and the defense.