‘Girls Murdered Just For Love of Charles Manson’
Wednesday, March 24th, 1971
Left to Right, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten walking to court today where the penalty phase of the Tate-LaBianca murder trial is nearing an end.
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 24 — The prosecutor in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial today claimed the three female defendants were not “just the girls next door” but were “old-fashioned, cold-blooded murderers.”
Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi today attacked the three female defendants — Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel — as murdering because they loved Charles Manson and believed in him.
“There was no force or fear used on them,” the prosecutor said, “and even to this day they go along with Charles Manson. He wouldn’t hurt them now even if he wanted to. And they still back him 101 percent.”
Manson, the prosecutor contended, told them to do what they were already capable of doing.
“Although Charles Manson made the decision to commit the seven Tate-LaBianca murders and selected these three defendants to do his murderous bidding…when these three plunged their knives into the victims, their own free will allowed them to do it,” Bugliosi said.
The deputy district attorney apparently attacked the three girls because of final arguments made by their attorneys in which they claimed that, it was only because of the use of LSD and Manson’s influence that they murdered.
Bugliosi, who in earlier statements had violently attacked Manson, seemed almost benevolent toward the cult chieftain today as he surged into his second day of rebuttal.
He claimed that the defendants were indeed mentally ill, but added, “so what?” He also claimed that they were not under the influence of LSD at the time of the murders because they attempted to hide their crimes by throwing away the weapons and clothes they wore and washing away the blood from their bodies.
“You could bet your last dollar,” the prosecutor told the jury, “that Charles Manson would make sure that none of his killers was under the influence of LSD. He wanted them to be as effective as possible…and effective they were.”
Bugliosi is expected to end his rebuttal summation later today and will be followed by the four defense attorneys. Although three of the attorneys claim their final statements will be “very short,” Manson’s attorney, Irving Kanarek, would not estimate how long he will talk.
Tuesday, a threat by Manson that there will be “nothing but murder and bloodshed” if he is sentenced to die for the murders brought an emergency order that the jury be sequestered immediately.
Manson’s threat came in a conversation with Bugliosi.
The threat — and the subsequent newspaper, radio and television publicity — brought Dist. Atty. Joseph Busch and several of his aides to the Los Angeles Superior Courtroom for an emergency meeting with the judge.
Busch requested that Judge Charles Older lock up the jurors to prevent them from being prejudiced. Busch admitted, however, that Manson’s threat had been told to newsmen by prosecution sources.
Older only Monday had warned members of the five-woman, seven-man panel that they might be sequestered beginning Tuesday night because the case was nearing an end. Tuesday afternoon he told the jurors that although the trial was not over he felt it best that they be sequestered.
“It’ll only be an extra day or so,” he told the unhappy panel.
The jurors were first sequestered last July 15 and remained locked up in Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel until Feb. 16. They have been free to return to their homes at night for a little more than a month.
The threat and subsequent events brought immediate protests from defense attorneys who claimed the prosecution “intentionally released the report of the threat in an attempt to prejudice the jury.”
“The prosecution knew it was prejudicial yet intentionally gave the information to the press,” chief defense counsel Paul Fitzgerald told newsmen. Fitzgerald admitted, however, that he agreed with the sequestration.
“If I get the death penalty there’s going to be nothing but murder and bloodshed because I’m not going to take it,” Manson was quoted as saying to Bugliosi as the trial prepared to resume Tuesday morning.
But Bugliosi pulled no punches Tuesday as he began a rebuttal summation — something he had earlier told newsmen he wouldn’t do.
Bugliosi called Manson “so evil Satan himself would be jealous, and labeled members of his cult “x-ed out slaves…still beholden, still mortgaged to him.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they followed him to San Quentin and offered to go into the gas chamber for him,” he shouted at the jury. “Lying for him on the witness stand is easier for them than taking a drink of water after what they did for him. To believe their story you’d have to have the mind of a mentally retarded insect.”
Bugliosi was preceded by Fitzgerald who claimed the murders may be only the first, of the LSD murders. He represents Miss Krenwinkel.
Fitzgerald told the jury, “The society that executes its problem children is destroying its own access to insight and self-understanding. Killing these children is killing symptoms – not the disease.”
He appealed for life imprisonment for the girls, adding, “Society will be protected. We have had enough killing.”
By MARY NEISWENDER