Manson to Take Stand in Try for Case Dismissal
Tuesday, June 23rd, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jun. 23 – Cult chieftain Charles Manson will take the stand in an attempt to get charges against him in the Tate-LaBianca massacre murders dismissed, his attorney said today.
The surprise announcement came as the selection of the jury to hear the case against the cult leader and three of his girls followers continued in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Irving Kanarek, the last of almost a half-dozen attorneys for Manson, said his client told Superior Court Judge Charles Older that he would take the stand when arguments are heard for dismissal because Manson has not been accorded a “speedy trial.” Judge Older said he would hear the matter sometime this week.
Manson has long contended that he has not waived his right to a trial within 60 days.
Meanwhile, six more jurors have been excused, one because of prejudicial publicity, as the slow process of selecting a prospective jury continued.
Attorney Ira Reiner, defending “family” member Leslie Van Houten, told newsmen that the outcome of jury selection had been a “surprise” to lawyers.
“In my last murder case, 60 percent of the prospective jurors were excused because of hardship,” Reiner said, “and they were not to be sequestered as in this case.
“When we first started selecting this jury, we were all very surprised when there were few requests for excuses because of hardship.
“Suddenly, like an epidemic, every juror we’ve called has some sort of hardship. Twenty-nine straight jurors have been excused.
Prospective jurors and newsmen stirred noticeably as the trial opened this morning when the three girls — Miss Van Houten, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel — walked into the room.
Two of the girls wore their usual flowing short dresses, but Miss Atkins bounced in in what appeared to be a pair of lounging pajamas. Manson, sitting at the counsel table, smiled broadly and winked at her.
As the fourth day of jury selection continued, 55 jurors had been called and 44 excused. The remainder have passed initial questioning on hardship and are awaiting further interrogation by attorneys.
Defense attempts to interview the chief prosecution witness in the case were foiled Monday as Judge Older refused to order attorneys for Kasabian to allow defense lawyers to interview their client. The woman has been kept away from Manson “family” members and their attorneys since she decided to testify for the prosecution in return for immunity.
On motion of attorney Daye Shinn, representing Miss Atkins, the defense team asked that the interview be allowed.
“I’ve talked to Mrs. Kasabian’s attorney who refused to allow me to talk with her,” Shinn told the judge. “In fact, he sent me a letter saying that if I attempted to talk to her, he would fight me before the State Bar Association.
“But both the prosecution and the defense have a right to interview witnesses,” Shinn contended, “and the prosecution has already done so.”
But Kanarek compared Mrs. Kasabian’s testimony to a “sword of Damocles hanging over our heads.”
“Keeping her incommunicado this way,” Kanarek shouted, ‘is a suppression of evidence. I demand that the prosecution either offer her official immunity now or withdraw her as a witness.”
Chief prosecutor Aaron Stovitz also jumped to his feet, calling the burly Kanarek a “bigmouth.”
“I don’t want these jurors to think we’re suppressing evidence or hindering justice. We’re not,” said Stovitz.
Judge Older granted the motion but on stipulation that Mrs. Kasabian’s attorneys agree to the interview, claiming he could not order them to grant it.
In another action, Shinn’s motion that Miss Atkins be excused from the jury trial and her case be submitted to Judge Older failed after attorneys for the other defendants and prosecuting attorneys indicated they were in opposition.
By MARY NEISWENDER