• Manson Plea to Move Trial Denied Despite ‘Ruthless Publicity’ Claim

Manson Plea to Move Trial Denied Despite ‘Ruthless Publicity’ Claim

LOS ANGELES, Mar. 25 – Despite an impassioned charge by a defense attorney that a Los Angeles newspaper “conspired” to deprive accused murder-mastermind Charles Manson and his “family” of a fair trial, a motion to transfer the case to another county was denied Tuesday.

Atty. Paul Fitzgerald, who resigned Tuesday as a public defender to become the private attorney for murder suspect Patricia Krenwinkel, argued before Superior Court Judge Malcolm Lucas that it would be “an absolute impossibility to get 12 jurors who haven’t heard about this case.”

Judge Lucas, however, not only denied the change of venue motion, but denied a motion by Manson’s attorney, Ronald Hughes, for a dismissal of charges against his client. He also denied Fitzgerald’s earlier motion that charges against Miss Krenwinkel also be dismissed.

In one of the lengthiest hearings thus far in the complex case, Hughes also asked that he be “removed as Mr. Manson’s attorney” if the hippie cult leader is not allowed to speak out in court.

Judge Lucas said the court was not prepared to rule on that motion.

Fitzgerald, backed by two large boxes of printed articles, called the material “the most ruthless and prejudicial kind of publicity there ever was.”

Quoting headlines from newspapers throughout the area, the former assistant chief of trials for the public defender’s office said coverage of the case was unparalleled in history…linking Manson with other murders.

“They linked Mr. Manson and his followers with every unsolved murder in California without any shred of proof. The defendants have not been allowed to respond, and it’s impossible to cleanse the accusations.

“They charged Charles Manson, and my client through association, with violating every one of the 10 Commandments.”

From the outset, Fitzgerald declared in a reference to the First Commandment (Thou shalt have no false Gods before me), “they said he called himself Jesus. He’s been charged with theft, sexual violation, coveting other people’s wives (and) bearing false witness.” Finally, he said, “they go one step further and charge him with social prejudices.”

The 33-year-old Fitzgerald, who admits to having been a private attorney for one month before joining the public defenders office five years ago, charged “there isn’t one courageous member of the media that would speculate on Manson’s innocence.”

Fitzgerald also claimed Los Angeles Times conspired to deprive Manson of a fair trial in the printing of a confession by Susan Atkins before she went to court. He said the book publisher that later published her story is a wholly owned Times subsidiary.

In a sarcastic reply, Dep. Dist. Atty. John Bugliosi claimed that publicity has permeated every county in the state and it would serve no purpose in the trial if the case were transferred.

“I thought that Mr. Fitzgerald not only wanted this case transferred out of Los Angeles County, but wanted Mr. Manson to be allowed to go free and rejoin his family,” Bugliosi said.

At this point, Manson’s attorney jumped to his feet, claiming the idea was valid and asked that charges against his client be dismissed because of prejudicial publicity.

Judge Lucas denied the motion immediately, saying the court did not feel this was an appropriate remedy.

Both the 21-year-old Miss Krenwinkel, wearing a lavender and old lace dress, and Manson, in a long-sleeved blouse-type shirt, appeared subdued during the entire hearing.

The Krenwinkel agreed to the substitution of attorneys, indicating she had talked the situation over with Fitzgerald earlier. Fitzgerald told newsmen that his decision to leave the public defender’s office came because “of a difference over the conduct of the case.”


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