Judge Again Denies Manson Move to Represent Himself
Tuesday, December 23rd, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 23 – Hippie cult leader Charles Milles Manson’s request to act as his own attorney at his trial on seven counts of murder was denied for a second time yesterday as a lawyer was named to discuss with him the “seriousness” of his wish.
Superior Judge William B. Keene ordered Manson to return to his courtroom at 11 a.m. tomorrow for a hearing on whether he is capable of defending himself.
Manson 35, and five members of his band of hate-oriented hippies are under indictment for the Aug. 9 murders of actress Sharon Tate and four others, and the killings the next day of market owner LaBianca, and his wife Rosemary.
Manson last Friday asked to act as his own attorney, with Luke McKissack and Lawrence Steinberg.
Judge Keene denied the request last week and ordered the hearing yesterday.
The long-haired, bearded Manson made the request again at yesterday’s half-hour proceeding, saying he wanted to represent himself because “I don’t wish to be played with in this matter.”
Manson claimed no less than 10 attorneys have visited him in the County Jail, where he is being held without bond.
The hippie leader claimed the new media had already “executed me” and declared.
“I’m no longer on the defensive…the constitution doesn’t really mean too much.”
“If anyone’s hypnotized, it’s the people who have been hypnotized by the lies they’ve been told.”
Manson apparently referred to newspaper articles which quoted a codefendant, Susan Denise Atkins 21, as saying the slight, brown-haired man had a “hypnotic” hold over his followers.
Judge Keene admonished Manson he did not wish to have the facts of the case discussed at the proceeding.
The defendant replied, “I have no other choice but to represent myself. There’s no attorney in the world who can represent me.”
Judge Keenes’ ruling actually consisted of two parts.
The jurist ordered that the public defender’s office withdrawn from the case after deputy public defender Paul J. Fitzgerald notified the court there was a “conflict of interest” in the Manson case.
The public defender’s office is representing Robert K. Beausoleil in his trial for the murder of musician Gary Hinman last July 25. The Hinman murder reportedly is linked to the Tate-LaBianca and Miss Atkins also is accused in Hinman’s death.
Judge Keene then appointed an attorney who has no interest in defending Manson to discuss with the hippie leader the “seriousness” of his request to represent himself.
The lawyer Joseph A. Ball was named late yesterday afternoon by Judge Keene after the jurist conferred with Seth M. Hufstedler, president of the County Bar Association.
Ball, a former State Bar Association president, also was to discuss the offers of representation made to Manson by other attorneys.
The court-appointed lawyer will act in that capacity only until the hearing tomorrow, when Judge Keene presumably will either allow Manson to represent himself, or accept Manson’s choice of counsel.
Ball will visit Manson in the County Jail this morning.
Judge Keene said several times that he would appoint the attorney, should the defendant wish it.
Manson at first refused, saying he “could not accept a lawyer under any circumstances from the court from past experiences.”
He also noted that he knew his wish to represent himself was “not a wise step, but it’s the only step I have.
“I realize my life is at stake and maybe four or five other people’s life is at stake. It’s a chance — my only chance,” Manson asserted quietly as he stood in a prisoner’s holding box to the judge’s right.
Judge Keene persisted, however, despite vocal objections by McKissack, Steinberg and attorney George E. Shibley, a friend of Manson’s who met the defendant in 1957.
McKissack and Steinberg noted that, in effect, Manson was now without any representation since the public defender’s office was off the case.
Shibley, meanwhile, said he was a “friend of the court” and told Judge Keene he had discussed the matter of self-representation with Manson from “10 to 15 hours.”
“The defendant,” said Shibley, “does not wish to have a court-appointed attorney. The defendant, rightly or wrongly, feels this court is ambitious of becoming district attorney.”
“As a friend of this court, I appreciate your comments to this court,” remarked Judge Keene dryly at the end of Shibley’s remarks.
Manson finally agreed to talk to the attorney which Judge Keene will name and said:
“I don’t wish to fight with the judge. I do believe his interest in me is in his mind…I believe he’s sincere.”
Manson said he was “aware” and would welcome any advice.
“If it’s an opportunity…wouldn’t want to lose it,” he added.
Judge Keene, apparently weary of the lengthy exchange, asked Manson for the last time if he wished to discuss the matter with the court-appointed lawyer.
“If you want me to, I want you to appoint an attorney,” said Manson as he grinned at the Judge.
Manson also was supposed to plead to the seven murder and one conspiracy charges against him. The plea, however, will be postponed until the matter of representation is settled.
Only seconds before the Manson hearing, two co-defendants appeared before Judge Keene.
One was 19-year-old Leslie Louise Van Houten of Monrovia, a slender dark-haired girl accused of conspiracy and of the killings of the LaBiancas.
She very quietly replied, “not guilty,” when she was arraigned and asked her plea to the charges.
Judge Keene ordered Miss Van Houten to stand trial on Feb. 9 in Dept. 107, which he will take over at the first of the year. Miss Atkins, who pleaded innocent last week, also will stand trial at that time.
In addition, Miss Van Houten’s attorney, Marvin L. Part, asked that he be allowed to make certain motions before Judge Keene on Jan. 6. The Judge agreed and ordered Miss Van Houten and her attorney to appear on that date at 9 a.m.
Also appearing then will be 20-year-old Linda Louise Kasabian of New Hampshire.
Her attorneys, Gary Fleishman and Ronald L. Goldman, told Judge Keene they were not prepared for Mrs. Kasabian, mother of a daughter and pregnant with another child, to enter her plea at this time.
Miss Van Houten, wearing a red, white and blue stripped dress, and Mrs. Kasabian, a white maternity smock and a gray flannel skirt, showed no outward signs of emotion at the proceedings yesterday morning.
It had been expected that Manson and the two young women would appear together in the courtroom. The young women have not seen their “leader” since their arrests.
However, Judge Keene had the women appear first. They were led out of the courtroom before Manson, who wore a bright open-necked purple shirt, dark trousers and moccasins, was brought into the prisoner’s box.
The women were led in and out of the courtroom through another door — this one to the Judge’s left.
The small courtroom, on the eighth floor of the Hall of Justice, was packed with newsmen, attorneys connected with the case, lawyers on other matters and the curious.
There were well over 100 persons in the courtroom — which normally seats only 75 or so. Many were forced to stand, as in previous appearances by Manson and his followers.
Besides Manson, Miss Atkins, Miss Van Houten and Mrs. Kasabian, others indicted by the County Grand Jury for the murders are Charles “Tex” Watson, 24, and Patricia Krenwinkel, 22. Both are out of state and awaiting extradition to California.
Asked by newsmen about his feelings on Judge Keene’s rulling, McKissack declared, “any impartial observer can only reach one conclusion — that the Judge’s role in the case is larger than it should be for an impartial judge.”
However, McKissack made it plain he was not accusing Judge Keene of bias.
“But, today’s conduct exhibits considerable judicial over-reaching as far as the Judge’s role in the case,” the attorney said.
“It gives a terrible appearance of justice to the public.”
Shibley told reporters, “Manson has been told Judge Keene is very ambitious to become district attorney of this county.”
(Dist. Atty. Evelle J. Younger is expected to run for state attorney general next year).
Shibley said he, himself, does not know the truth or falsity of the allegation.
However, Shibley said, Manson is concerned that Judge Keene will appoint a former deputy district attorney to represent him
The Judge has already appointed two former prosecutors to represent Miss Atkins and Miss Van Houten, accused variously in the Tate-LaBianca slayings.
McKissack told newsmen Manson has a “fancy paranoia” about attorneys — “he doesn’t trust them.”
Shibley was asked what he thought about Judge Keene’s verbal exchange in the courtroom.
“This is the 500th anniversary of the incineration of St. Joan of Arc,” he replied.
The court proceedings, “reminded me very much of the inquisition of St. Joan of Arc and (George Bernard) Shaw’s play.”
About allegations that Manson was the guru of the hippie family and ordered the slayings. McKissack said, “We fell the whole image of a Svengali was dreamed up to exonerate certain other individuals.”
Shibley remarked that Manson feels that the general tenure of news coverage in the case is “what we’re having is an extra-judicial lynching.”
The attorney said Manson believes the public is being “brainwashed that he is a witch doctor and a fiend.”
Shibley said that everything that he has heard about Manson gives the defendant the appearance of a “sweet, wonderful fine young man.”
Meanwhile, a knife believed to have been used to kill actress Sharon Tate was examined by police yesterday after it was found by a television news crew in the Santa Monica Mountains.
The knife, which had about a 15-inch blade, was discovered Sunday afternoon off Mulholland Drive by Eddie Baker, soundman for KABC-TV.
The knife was found 75 yards from where the same crew of Baker, reporter Al Wiman and cameraman King Baggot on Dec. 15 located the dark clothing believed worn by the killers of Miss Tate and four other persons last Aug. 9.
A spokesman for Channel 7 said the knife was immediately turned over to police, who refused to comment on the discovery because of a court “news gag” imposed in the case.