‘Honest’ Prospective Jurors Turned Away, Manson Says
Friday, June 19th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jun. 19 – “It seems they’re turning all the honest people away — and leaving the dishonest ones.”
That, in one sentence, is what hippie leader Charles Manson thinks as he watches the slow process of selecting a jury which will hear the charges of murder against him and three of his “family.”
In an exclusive interview in the high-security section of the downtown jail, Manson outlined what he thinks as he sits quietly — silently — in the courtroom and in chambers listening to the jury selection questioning.
“You know,” he says candidly, “I sit in there and listen to their questions — especially about the publicity and whether they’ve made up their minds about me. Most of them say ‘no, no, I haven’t read anything — no, no, I haven’t made up my mind’ and they let them stay in the jury.
“A couple have said ‘yah, I read it all and think he’s guilty’ and they threw them out.
“They’re turning all the honest people away and leaving the dishonest ones — I’d rather have the honest ones, even though they said they were influenced by the publicity.”
People, the long-haired cult leader contends, have been “mesmerized” by the media and his case has been hurt by the “prosecution trying the case in the press.”
“He (Prosecutor Aaron Stovitz) even cops out in court — saying that he had laid out his case — they even have the tape recording — here’s proof,” Manson says referring to an interview printed in an underground paper.
“Yet the press doesn’t do anything about that. They all look like people sitting out there taking notes, but they must be stupid. How could they be so blind. What kind of system is this?”
“If someone came into the courtroom and blew my brains out it wouldn’t make any difference. All they’d lose is one small guy — they’re not losing much. But what the people are doing is destroying themselves.”
Why he decided to behave in court and not turn his back to the judge or simulate being crucified is vague:
“I never make a decision. It’s like going to a door, looking at the door knob and opening the door. It’s just there.”
The judge hasn’t influenced him to behave nor has Jerry Rubin, the Yippie leader known to have visited him in jail, he says.
“No one can talk me into anything. I’m at the top of my thoughts.
“I don’t ask other men for their opinion or advice or consider it. Because l’m a man I don’t need to lean on anyone. I stand for myself and am myself. I’m not unsure of myself. I’m positive.”
Why he decided to turn his back to the court he answers very slowly and deliberately:
“If you stand for it (the system) you are a part of it.
“I’ve looked at the judge and looked at him, but he won’t look at me, so I don’t think of him anymore.
“I see a black robe; the same one Pilate wore. It’s got all the blood on it from 1900 years of Christian rule.
“If I were my own attorney I could explain. You’ve heard of the Battle of Armageddon (the Bible’s prophecy of the last, decisive battle between good and evil before the Day of Judgment). I see it coming, and all I want to do is get out of the way, but they’re trying to stick an antichrist label on me.
“I’ve watched 40 people drop acid (LSD) at the same time, I’ve seen them jump into fire and try to gouge their eyes out and stick knives in each other. I’ve seen them take it and go crazy.
“But, I see people on the streets acting the same way.
“They say I’ve strung people out on dope. I say to the kids ‘Why take dope — just leave home — you don’t need dope.’ ”
The 14-year-old daughter of a Hollywood and Broadway actress, Manson says, he “got off dope” until the girl’s mother returned home from New York.
“I got her off speed…that’s bad. She was 14 and had tracks up her arms like you’d never believe. But her parents came back and she went back on it. Now she’s on heroin.
“I really love kids — I love everybody. I even love that stupid-ass judge, if you can believe that.
“I could have severed my case from the rest of these kids — but I didn’t. All I can see is love in them.”
And “kids” share his love, Manson claims.
“The kids are sure I’m not guilty that a bunch of them are starting up a sort of fan club to march on the trial. I tried to tell them not to be silly, but they’re going to stand on the sidewalk and yell for the judge to let me go. “I’m sure,” he says with a laugh, “that’s going to convince him to let me go.”
But the judge and the system, the clan chieftain says, are really in trouble as far as he’s concerned:
“If they convict me, they’re only giving the kids a “cause” — a martyr to follow…someone who’s against the establishment.
“If they let me go, I’m still in big trouble because I could turn into a monster. They’ve given me the weapon of fear. Everyone’s afraid of me.”
If he were turned loose, he says wistfully, “I’d go to the desert and no one would ever see me again.
“Regardless of what they do in court — I’ve been tried already and found guilty. I’m their bastardson. My house is the penitentiary. What are they going to do — send me back home?
“You know,” he laughs, “you probably haven’t heard about this but a while back there was a prison (jail) break. The window had been left open – the bars had been sawed through – in the day room I use. I could have escaped – almost. It wasn’t a sure thing. But it’s just a matter of time.
“The best thing for them to do is shoot me now.”
By MARY NEISWENDER