Manson Case Girl Fails Again to Fire Attorney
Thursday, July 2nd, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jul. 2 – One of Charles Manson’s codefendants, Leslie Van Houten 19, yesterday failed for the third time to fire her attorney, Ira K. Reiner.
The reason was the same as on Tuesday — she did not want him to excuse any of the prospective jurors tentatively seated. She stood and told trial Judge Charles H. Older her attorney was not representing her as she wanted.
The judge, as before, refused to allow the attorney dismissal and directed the young woman to sit down.
Thereupon, Reiner excused Mrs. Ellen Fields, a high school English teacher, bringing to 64 the total number of prospective jurors dismissed.
Another defense attorney, Paul J. Fitzgerald, attorney for 22-year-old Patricia Krenwinkel, had agreed to accept the jury.
Tuesday Miss Van Houten, as she had done a week before, claimed her lawyer, Ira K. Reiner, was not working with her.
“It’s my life. It’s not Mr. Reiner’s life,” the attractive young woman said.
During her brief speech to Superior Judge Charles H. Older, Miss Van Houten mentioned that she had made the request, not only in open court, but in the judge’s chambers.
Judge Older asked the young woman if Reiner had told her what to say.
“Mr. Reiner didn’t tell me to say anything. I say what Leslie says. I say what I say,” she replied.
The whole thing came up when the other three defense attorneys in the case were willing to accept a jury composed of nine men and three women.
The three other defense attorneys informed the court they were willing to accept the panel without exercising any peremptory challenge — those in which no cause has to be given for dismissal of a juror.
The prosecution used its first such challenge earlier.
Reiner, however, wanted to dismiss prospective juror Frank Rios.
It was then that Miss Van Houten arose from her chair by her attorney and said she wanted those jurors.
“Mr. Reiner and I aren’t working together. I wish to dismiss Mr. Reiner,” she told Judge Older.
The jurist, however, denied her request and told her to sit down.
Reiner immediately cited the judge for misconduct because Reiner felt the judge’s remarks indicated he might have been responsible for Miss Van Houten’s outburst.
After a brief conference at the judge’s bench, Reiner excused Rios and the judge asked if it was an individual challenge on behalf of Miss Van Houten.
The young woman again stood up and said, “on behalf of the defendant Mr. Reiner.”
The judge ordered her to sit down once more. She compiled
A few minutes later, however, Miss Van Honten was chatting happily with her lawyer and from the expression on her face it appeared she was no longer angry.
The judge, meanwhile, admonished the prospective jurors not to consider such courtroom procedures as evidence in the case
“They have no bearing whatever on the question of guilt or innocence,” the jurist remarked
Meanwhile, it was learned Judge Older has been assigned personnel from the sheriff’s department to serve as body guard driver. His home will also be under sheriff protection during the trial expected to last at least five months.