Manson’s New Attorney May Ask Insanity Plea
Friday, March 13th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 13 – Cult leader Charles Manson’s new court-appointed attorney said he may plead his client not guilty to the Sharon Tate murders by reason of insanity.
Lawyer Charles Hollopeter said he was “distressed and disturbed” by Manson’s “erradic, bizzare and uncommunicative” behavior in their first court appearance together yesterday.
“Frankly I think it was a little bit of put-on, but I don’t know if it was all an act on his part or whether he is mentally troubled,” Hollopeter said in an interview.
“I’m seriously considering asking the court to appoint a psychiatrist to examine him. And I will probably talk with him about the possibility of an Insanity plea.”
Manson acted up before Superior Court Judge William B. Keene when he was asked if he had any objections to informer Susan Atkins firing attorney Richard Cabellero and hiring Daye Shinn, Manson’s legal consultant for the last three months.
Manson mumbled and sing-songed to himself, stroking his beard and shaking his shoulder-length hair, as the judge repeated the questions at least a dozen times.
Once Manson pulled off his eyeglasses and tossed them at prosecution attorneys Aaron Stovitz and Vincent Bugliosi, pointed out the judge and demanded: “Do you see him like I do?”
Finally he said he agreed to the switch in attorneys and that it would not harm his case.
As he strolled out of the courtroom, he could be heard singing tunelessly, “Mr. Black Man, Please Forgive Me.” A reporter asked if he would stick with lawyer Hollopeter, whose appointment he had violently objected to last Friday.
“Man,” he said dreamily, ‘I’m going to stick with gasoline.”
“This was bad behavior, unbecoming in anyone in a courtroom,” Hollopeter said later. “I regret it very much and I intend to speak to Manson about it.”