Manson Girls Chant ‘Why Go on With Trial!’ After Nixon Remark
Thursday, August 6th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 6 – The Charles Manson murder trial jury got another dose of “the Nixon statement” yesterday, this time from the cult leaders’ three female codefendants.
Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten stood up before the seven men and five women trying them for murder, locked arms and chorused:
“If the President thinks we’re guilty, why go on with the trial?”
Their action came after the jury, along with six alternate panel members, were led into the Hall of Justice courtroom following Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older’s denial of a renewed defense motion for a mistrial.
“Sit down, ladies,” the judge snapped when the trio stood and recited their statement.
They demurely complied.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, attorney for the 22-year-old Miss Krenwinkel, earlier had asked for the mistrial because of Tuesday’s incident in which the 35-year-old cult leader showed the jury trying him a headline which read: “Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares.”
Judge Older also turned down a bid by Manson’s attorney, Irving A. Kanarek, to invite President Richard Nixon to the courtroom to testify as to why he told a Denver, Colo., gathering last Monday that Manson was “guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.”
Fitzgerald’s motion, the third such move for a mistrial since the president made his now-famous statement, was based on the grounds that most of the jurors admitted Tuesday that they had seen the headline.
Kanarek, who joined in Fitzgerald’s motion, said he wanted President Nixon to testify as to whether his remarks were politically motivated on behalf of Dist. Atty. Evelle J. Younger.
Younger, a Republican as is the President, is running for state attorney general.
Nixon later amended his comment, saying he did not mean to presume the guilt of Manson, who with three female followers is on trial for the murders a year ago of actress Sharon Tate and six others. Fitzgerald said the President’s remarks were “extraordinarily prejudical” to the jurors.
Both Fitzgerald and Kanarek noted that at least one of the alternate jurors said he saw the headlines in a newspaper on a stand while the panel was being transported from the Hall of Justice to the Ambassador Hotel.
The jury has been sequestered since last month to prevent it from seeing news accounts of the case.
Fitzgerald indicated this was a fact despite the precautions the court has taken to keep the jury from prejudicial publicity.
Kanarek, meanwhile, claimed if there was a full hearing on the matter, it also would determine whether the President’s remarks were a “ploy” for the prosecution to enable it to get Charles “Tex” Watson, 24, back to California from Texas to stand trial with the others.
Watson has been fight extradition since his arrest in December.
Judge Older, in making his ruling, said the time had come “to place this in its proper perspective.”
He pointed out that before Manson showed the headline to the jury Tuesday, only one alternate had seen it at a newsstand.
Judge Older said the important thing was “what effect, if any, it (the headline) had on the jury.”
The jurist said he was satisfied the jurors “can and will be fair and impartial and base their verdicts solely on the evidence.”
All the other matters, Judge Older said, are “extraneous.”
Atty. Daye Shinn, who represents the 21-year-old Miss Atkins, was ordered by Judge Older Tuesday to spend three nights in jail for giving Manson access to the newspaper.
Shinn had little to say yesterday morning about the first night of his sentence.
Miss Van Houten 19, is represented by Atty. Ronald Hughes.
Hughes and Kanarek each spent a night in jail last week for contempt-of-court charges handed down by the judge.
Following denial of the motions and the courtroom outburst by Manson’s “girls,” Kanarek resumed cross-examination of star prosecution witness Linda Kasabian.
His questions centered upon the use of drugs by the 21-year-old mother of two, who said she was an eyewitness to two of the August 1969 slayings.
Kanarek also questioned Mrs. Kasabian about a three and one half-hour conversation she had last Sunday with chief prosecutor Aaron H. Stovitz.
Mrs. Kasabian said she and the prosecutor spoke about several things, including her testimony.
“He questioned me about a certain murder in Northern California, which I knew nothing about,” she volunteered.
Stovitz declined to discuss the Northern California case with newsmen.
After almost a whole day of low-keyed, but relentless cross-examination, Mrs. Kasabian finally told Kanarek:
“You’ll have to excuse me — I’m very exhausted and it’s hard for me to listen to you.”
At this point the judge recessed the trial until today.
Some of Kanarek’s questions concerned Mrs. Kasabian’s trip to New Mexico after the murders.
When the prosecution objected to the questions, Kanarek told the judge “everything she did was to cover her tracks.”
Under his questioning, Mrs. Kasabian said:
• After the Tate murders, she was in a “state of shock,” but her memory about the events was not affected.
• “Shock” meant she had seen something unbelievable.
• She went to the Tate home to “steal.”
• She was under the domination of Charles “Tex” Watson, whom she said she saw kill Stephen Parent at the Tate home.
• She did not try to help Parent — “I just didn’t know what to do.”
By YVONNE PATTEN