Manson Venue Change Denied
Tuesday, February 17th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 17 – A judge said Monday that publicity about the Sharon Tate murders would not make it impossible for Charles Manson to get a fair trial here. He denied a request to change the trial site.
Manson, 35, leader of a band of nomadic hippie types, and five of his followers are charged with murder and conspiracy in the slayings of Miss Tate and six others.
When Manson came to court to request that the trial be moved to another area, Superior Court Judge Malcolm M. Lucas said: “The court finds that there is not a reasonable likelihood that a fair trial cannot be had.”
“The court finds that there has been extensive and pervasive publicity concerning the defendant Manson…in every county in the state if not throughout the nation,” Lucas said.
Thus, a change of venue would he “ineffectual,” he added.
In making the rulings, Lucas repeatedly cited the Reardon Report of the American Bar Association concerning publicity of court cases and noted that it suggests delay of trials in cases where publicity might die down in time.
The judge said: “it is the court’s belief that a continuance in this matter would be ineffectual because of public interest in the case. There would only be a revival of publicity.”
Manson said he wanted to exercise his right to a speedy trial and would not seek a delay.
Manson, hunched over the counsel table, his shaggy hair falling around his face, told the judge: “The papers have really done a thing on this, more than anything that’s ever come up, even on the guy that killed the president of the United States…To me it’s becoming a joke, but a joke that may cost me my life.”
He specifically objected to a Life magazine article on Manson’s hippie-style “family,” which he said told of machine guns mounted on dune buggys and “the graves we’re supposed to be digging.”
He complained that his phone privileges had been cut off to stop him from giving statements to newspapers.
“I’ve got a side of my story too…like, I’m a vicious demon overnight and really I’m not,” Manson said.
The judge denied other Manson motions. One was for public opinion surveys to be taken throughout California and Los Angeles County to see if he could get a fair trial. The other was to rule Manson an indigent person. The judge noted that Manson had previously said in court that he had enough funds to pay an attorney. And he refused to dismiss the charges on grounds of what Manson called “widespread, unfavorable publicity.”
By LINDA DEUTSCH