• Leslie Van Houten Retrial to Stay in L.A., Judge Rules

Leslie Van Houten Retrial to Stay in L.A., Judge Rules

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 20 – The retrial of former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten will stay in Los Angeles, a judge here ruled today after both defense and prosecution attorneys agreed that the entire state was “saturated” with publicity about the case.

Miss Van Houten’s lawyer, Maxwell Keith, conceded this point, but still asked for the change of venue, saying:

“I have to admit I have no proof and that it is just speculation, but it seems logical she could receive a fairer trial up north in one of the more populous counties like San Francisco or Alameda.”

But Dep. Dist. Atty. Stephen Kay countered by asking: “Where in the whole United States, including Alaska, would we find people who had not heard of the Tate-LaBianca murders and Leslie Van Houten?”

Kay maintained that since Los Angeles County is the largest county in the state, “we would have the largest pool to pick fair-minded jurors from.”

Miss Van Houten, dressed in a well-tailored beige plaid pantsuit, listened attentively as the two attorneys argued, smiling when humorous remarks were made by both sides.

In turning down the request to move the trial, Superior Judge E. Talbot Callister referred to a state Board of Appeal observation that pervasive publicity on the Manson case could not be avoided.

“As the Court of Appeal said, there is no reason to believe that a transfer of the trial would provide a fairer jury pool,” Callister noted.

Much of Keith’s presentation dealt with the activities of Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who convicted Miss Van Houten in the first trial along with Manson and two other female followers. Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel.

Keith questioned the ethical conduct of Bugliosi in publishing a best-selling book from which a television movie was made while the case was still on appeal.

Commenting on the television production, Keith said: “The movie casts Leslie in a very false light. It depicts her as a very depraved, malevolent young lady, and an unrepentant murderer. That’s not fair. Her conviction has been reversed and she is back here for a fair trial.”

CBS has scheduled a rerun of the four-hour “Helter Skelter” movie Jan. 28. Keith indicated that he would take legal steps to have the telecast blocked until after Miss Van Houten’s trial, expected to get under way in late March.


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