Manson, Prosecutor Have 90-Minute Private ‘Chat’
Thursday, June 17th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Jun. 17 — The two principal courtroom antagonists in the Tate-LaBianca trial — Charles Manson and chief prosecutor Vincent T. Bugliosi — got together at the Hall of Justice for a quiet, 90-minute chat Monday.
The story about the meeting between the cult leader and the man who demanded his execution became known Tuesday morning when Manson’s attorney, Irving Kanarek, raised objections.
The conversation was at Manson’s request. It took place in the prisoner’s docket in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge Raymond Choate, where Manson is on trial in two other murder cases.
A bailiff who sat in said the two men discussed philosophy, with much of the conversation centering on Scientology.
Judge Choate held a special hearing Tuesday morning about the conversation after Kanarek charged it may have an impact on Manson’s current trial over the Hinman- Shea slayings in 1969.
Judge Choate ruled the talk did not affect the trial and there were no grounds to penalize Bugliosi.
However, the judge said he would not make any finding about “the ethics of the matter.” The conversation took place following a jury selection session in the Hinman- Shea case. Bugliosi is not the prosecutor in that case, although he is expected to be involved in defending against appeals in the Tate-LaBianca trial.
Manson currently is on trial over the murders of Topanga Canyon musician Gary Hinman and movie stuntman Donald (Shorty) Shea. Jury selection is expected to take several more weeks.
An attorney for one of Manson’s present codefendants told Judge Choate about the conversation.
Because of the discussion, Atty. George V. Denny III, representing Bruce Davis 27 asked that his client’s trial be severed from Manson’s. However, Judge Choate denied the motion.
Bugliosi prosecuted Manson and three others for the Tate-LaBianca murders. All were convicted and condemned to the gas chamber.
Evidence during the hearing called by Judge Choate showed that Kanarek, Manson’s attorney, was not present during the conversation.
It also showed that Manson himself initiated the conversation.
Court Bailiff Rusty Burrell testified that he was present during the Bugliosi – Manson discussion and said it was mostly a talk about philosophy, including conversation on Scientology.
After hearing testimony from Burrell and Bugliosi, the judge ruled that Kanarek knew of the conversation, but declined to be present and “by his conduct, he consented to the conversation.”
Kanarek refused to take the witness stand when asked to by Judge Choate, although the attorney earlier told newsmen he would not comment on the matter until he was under oath.
Burrell told reporters that once during the conversation, Manson “complimented” Bugliosi on a “remarkable job” in the Tate-LaBianca trial.
Several times during Tuesday’s hearing, Manson 36 shouted out remarks, including “this was my idea,” referring to the conversation with Bugliosi.
Bugliosi testified he had just “dropped in” at Judge Choate’s court when Monday’s session ended. He said Manson motioned that he wanted to talk to him.
The deputy district attorney “said he talked to Manson with Kanarek’s knowledge, but admitted he did not have the defense attorney’s actual consent.
Burrell testified that Manson had asked him to call Bugliosi over.
The bailiff said he motioned to Kanarek to see if the attorney wanted to be present during the conversation, but that Kanarek shook his head and “went out the door.”
Burrell also said Kanarek. a few minutes later, stuck his head in through the courtroom door and left again.
Burrell, who guards Manson during the Hinman- Shea trial, said he was present during the entire conversation and that the names of Manson’s codefendants — Davis and Stephen Grogan 20 — were not mentioned.
Denny argued that Scientology “may very well”‘ have something to do with the Hinman-Shea case.
He told Judge Choate that Bugliosi zeroed in on Manson’s philosophy during the Tate-LaBianca trial.
“Mr. Bugliosi sits for an hour and a half picking Manson’s brain to get his philosophy,” Denny commented.
Bugliosi will be chief prosecutor in the trial of Charles (Tex) Watson 25, also accused of the Tate-LaBianca slayings.
Watson is scheduled to go to trial in another court on July 19.
At the end of the hearing, Manson shouted that it is “ridiculous” that “I have no right to speak to who I wish to outside of court.”