Tate Jury Never Sees Key Figure
Monday, August 31st, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 31 – The name and image of Charles “Tex” Watson looms large at the Tate murder trial but the jury never gets a look at him in the flesh.
The 24-year-old Watson sits in Collins County Jail in McKinney, Tex., appealing his extradition to California where four other members of the Charles Manson “Family” are on trial for their lives.
Two of the female defendants at the trial have testified that Watson, a big good-looking boy who was an outstanding high school athlete, led the savage forays to both the Sharon Tate and Leno
LaBianca home aid actually committed six of the seven murders himself.
Susan Atkins told a grand jury—before recanting her story—that Watson killed all five persons at the Tate home and that she had been told he killed one of the LaBianca couple.
Linda Kasabian testified at the trial that Manson ordered Watson to carry out the killings at both homes and that he came back to report that he had “carried out the devil’s (Manson’s) work.”
Extradition on a capital offense ordinarily would be a routine matter but Watson’s lawyer has managed to buck along appeals from the state to federal courts on grounds his client could not get a fair trial in the circus atmosphere of the Los Angeles proceedings.
Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi termed it an “outrage” that the Texas authorities had deliberately frustrated the “due administration of justice in California.”
Estimates of the cost of the current Tate trial run well over $1 million. The same array of witnesses will have to be called again when Watson is finally brought to Los Angeles for trial — as he almost certainly will be.
Another of the Deputy District Attorneys, Aaron Stovitz, says the state’s case would have been far stronger if Watson had been tried with the others.
Stovitz said it was his understanding that Watson would enter a plea — when brought to trial — of “diminished mental capacity.” Such a tactic would bring in the testimony of psychiatrists who would have to relate the story that Watson told them.
Watson, youngest of three children, never made a grade below B in Farmersville High School, a small community near McKinney, 20 miles northeast of Dallas. He was all district in football in 1962 and 1963 and still holds the record in high hurdles for class A high schools in Texas
He attended North Texas State University from September, 1964, until the spring of 1967 when he transferred to California State College at Los Angeles.
He moved into an apartment of his own and friend said he changed from a polite young man to a bearded type who became associated with a rock music group and talking about a “long-haired guru.” He dropped out of college and the next thing his parents knew he was writing occasionally from the Spahn Ranch.
Mrs. Kasabian testifed that the first day she went to the ranch, “Tex” made love to her in a way that left her shaken.