Reporter Subpoenaed by Defense in Manson Trial
Tuesday, July 21st, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jul. 21 – The Charles Manson trial took a new twist yesterday as the defense subpoenaed a newspaper reporter in an effort to find the source of one of her stories.
The subpoena was served on Mrs. Mary Neiswender, a reporter for the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram, by Paul J. Fitzgerald, attorney for one of Manson’s co-defendants.
The 35-year-old Manson is accused of masterminding the murders last August of actress Sharon Tate and six others. On trial with him are Susan Atkins 22, Patricia Krenwinkel 22, and Leslie Van Houten, 19, all members of Manson’s so-called “family”.
By Mary Neiswender
In a copyrighted story published in the Long Beach paper Aug. 27, Mrs. Neiswender wrote of interviewing a neighbor of Miss Tate’s.
The neighbor, who asked that his name not be used, said he was awakened about 2 a.m. Aug. 9 — the day the bodies of the actress and four others were found – by shots and screams.
However, the prosecution reportedly places the time of the murders at about 11:30 pm, Aug. 8, and the defense wants to interview the neighbor.
Fitzgerald privately asked Mrs. Neiswender last week if she would tell him the name of the neighbor, so the defense could interview him.
She twice refused, saying that as a reporter she had an obligation to the man since he asked his name not be used.
The subpoena orders Mrs. Neiswender to appear before trial Judge Charles H. Older Friday morning.
Fitzgerald will ask her in front of the judge to disclose the name of her source. If she refuses, the judge could order her to show cause why she should not be cited for contempt.
Mrs. Neiswender, who has covered the six-week-old trial each day, said she planned to have her newspaper’s attorneys accompany her to court Friday.
She also vowed she would not reveal the man’s name.
It was believed the police had not questioned the neighbor.
In the newspaper story, he claimed that he could hear conversation and ice clattering in glasses at the Benedict Canyon home Miss Tate shared with her film director husband Roman Polanski.
Manson and two of the young women are accused of all seven murders.
Miss Van Houten, is charged only with the Aug. 10 killings of market owner Leno LaBianca and his wife. Those slayings occurred at the LaBianca home in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles.
Manson appeared tense in court.
He apparently was upset because a reporter for the Los Angeles Free Press, an “underground” newspaper, was sitting in the back row while other newsmen were closer to the front.
“Shave your moustache and get a hair cut — then you can sit with the rest of them,” Manson hollered.
A court bailiff told Manson to quit talking and go to his chair at the counsel table.
The remark came as Manson and his co-defendants were coming from the judge’s chambers, scene of most of the trial so far.
Questioning of prospective alternate jurors continued, meanwhile, with a total of 70 called and 64 excused since last week.
A jury of seven men and five women was seated last Tuesday and selection of the six alternates followed.
Defense attorneys for Manson and his three female followers differs have steadfastly refused to exercise peremptory challenges to excuse alternates, although the prosecution has used up three.
Each of the defendants is entitled to six of these challenges, in which no cause is given for dismissal of a prospective juror.
The prosecution is supposed to have 24 challenges, but Judge Older has hinted he might reduce the number if the defendants keep refusing to dismiss jurors.
If this is the case, a panel of six alternates might be seated sooner than the middle of the week, as had been expected.
By SANDI METTETAL