Move to Dismiss Charges in Manson Trial Is Denied by Judge
Tuesday, June 30th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jun. 30 – Superior Court Judge Charles Older yesterday denied a defense motion to dismiss charges against Charles Manson and three co-defendants on grounds of prejudicial pre-trial publicity.
Older, following an hour of arguments, said he could “find no basis on which the defendants’ motion should be granted.”
Manson 35, Susan Atkins 21, Patricia Krenwinkel 22, and Leslie Van Houten 19, went on trial two weeks ago on conspiracy and murder charges stemming from the slayings last August of actress Sharon Tate and six others.
The trial is still in the jury selection stage.
The bulk of the arguments in favor of the motion were given by Paul Fitzgerald, Miss Krenwinkel’s attorney.
He cited various newspaper articles published between the arrest of the defendants in December and now as being “highly prejudicial.”
Fitzgerald said the most flagrant violation of a gag rule on pre-trial publicity was an article published this month in the Rolling Stone, an underground tabloid.
The article, “Porfiry’s Complaint,” was based on an interview given to Rolling Stone reporters by Aaron Stovitz, chief prosecutor, in which certain aspects of the case were disclosed.
Fitzgerald said he could not prove that the prosecution was responsible for previously prejudicial publicity, but claimed the Rolling Stone article could be laid directly to the district attorney’s office.
This story, he said, was the “only time they have been caught” violating the gag rule.
Fitzgerald claimed the prosecution had attempted to “garner public opinion and public sympathy behind them” so they would have “an easy time convicting these defendants.”
Stovitz, who has been accused by the defense attorneys of contempt for allegedly violating the gag order did not offer arguments against the charges. The defense allegation is still pending.
Co-prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi termed the motion to dismiss and the accusations “totally unbelievable.”
He said if the prosecution needed “support” it was not by telling its story in the Rolling Stone.
Bugliosi said the tabloid was relatively unheard of until “Mr. Fitzgerald introduced it into the world.”
The co-prosecutor claimed he and Stovitz did not need to “prove the case in the media. We will prove it from the witness stand by competent witnesses under oath.”
Manson’s attorney, Irving Kanarek, chided the prosecutor for not offering “anything in rebuttal” against the defense contempt accusations.
He termed the trial a “mere charade” and urged the judge to dismiss the case, then “let the chips fall where they may.”
Judge Older, however, said he had considered all the papers and exhibits filed with the court along with examination of prospective jurors and felt the defense motion should be denied.
The prospective jurors were not in the courtroom while the motion was being argued.
After Judge Older turned down the motion to dismiss, prospective jurors were returned to the courtroom and Bugliosi resumed questioning of the nine men and three women who are tentatively seated.
The prosecution has indicated it will seek the death penalty for the defendants if it wins first-degree murder convictions.
Manson and the three young women were in high spirits during jury selection. The girls giggled and smiled when Manson made faces and grinned for their benefit.
All have appeared care-free since the trial began, although at previous hearings, they had variously turned their backs on the court and tried to argue with the judge.
In another development in the trial, it was learned Judge Older has refused to hear a renewed prosecution motion challenging Kanarek.
The judge reportedly turned down the request during a session in his chambers last Friday.
That was the day Judge Older issued a supplement to the gag order, which also restricts information about in-chambers sessions being given to the news media.
Dist. Atty. Evelle J. Younger will hold a news conference today to discuss the judge’s action.
The prosecution has challenged Kanarek as being incompetent and an “obstructionist.”
By SANDI METTETAL