Judge Curbs Defiant Manson
Thursday, January 29th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 29 – Charles Manson, complaining he hasn’t had enough time to prepare his case, hasn’t been allowed to talk to witnesses and has been harassed by deputies in his County Jail cell, refused Wednesday to enter a plea to seven counts of murder in the Sharon Tate-Leno LaBianca massacres.
But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Dell, showing unbelievable patience, entered a not-guilty plea for the now clean-shaven Manson, who violently objected to the legal move.
“You’ve had five weeks in which to decide on a plea,” Judge Dell told Manson during the hour-long arraignment, “and further delay is merely for the purposes of delay.”
Manson paced the wooden courtroom inclosure that separated him from spectators, and as the seven-count indictment was read to him by Deputy Dist. Atty. Aaron Stovitz, sighed as lengthy legal documents were completed.
Then, when asked to enter a plea, Manson stood before one of several microphones and answered: “Your honor, I object to any further proceedings. I object to the Grand Jury, I object to this indictment, I object to the method used to get this indictment, I object to the heinous behavior of the establishment in returning this indictment.”
Judge Dell interrupted: “I take it you’re not ready to make a plea.”
As the judge attempted to explain the court procedures to Manson, the long-haired defendant kept interrupting with “Wait a minute,” ”Hold it you’re not going to confuse,” “Don’t shut me off,” and then laughed as the plea was entered, saying, “This is justice?”
Manson, in several motions obviously prepared with the help of attorneys, requested he be allowed to speak to witnesses, including Susan Atkins, the girl whose confession led to the indictment of Manson and four others.
“I got a message from a girl named Sadie (Miss Atkins was called Sadie Glutz at the hippie commune where the Manson hippie cult lived),” Manson said. ”She said the district attorney made her say what she said and I’d like to talk to her.”
Judge Dell agreed, with the stipulation the girl and her attorneys agree.
Several other witnesses also were requested by Manson to be allowed into his County Jail interrogation room, including Linda Kasabian and Leslie Van Houten, both indicted for the murders, and Robert Beausoliel, charged with the murder of a Topanga Canyon youth shortly before the Tate slayings.
The judge interrupted a long dissertation by Manson, who maintained he’d had insufficient time to prepare his case, citing the fact that 237 visitors talked with Manson since his arrest in December.
“You have had so much company, I don’t see how you can prepare your case,” Judge Dell said. “But no matter what, you will get a trial. And you seem to he enjoying every minute of this.”
Only twice did Judge Dell flatly refuse a Manson request — once when he asked that the court’s gag order on publicity be lifted, and again when he asked that a producer and a newspaperman be allowed to visit him.
“That sounds like the Manson publicity corps, not witnesses you want to talk to,” the judge said in refusing the request.
A hearing to set aside the indictment was scheduled for Feb. 6 in Department 106 of Superior Court, and a trial date was set for Feb. 9.
By MARY NEISWENDER