Three Psychiatrists Appointed to Examine ‘Tex’ Watson
Thursday, October 8th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 8 – Three psychiatrists were appointed yesterday to determine if Charles “Tex” Watson is mentally able to cooperate in his defense against conspiracy murder charges in connection with the Tate-LaBianca murders.
Superior Judge George M. Dell continued further proceedings until Nov. 6, after appointing veteran criminal Atty. Sam Bubrick 52, to represent Watson.
Watson 24, is charged with one count of conspiracy and seven counts of murder in the August 1969 slayings of actress Sharon Tate and six others.
Cult leader Charles Manson 35, and three of his female followers are on trial in another courtroom for the Tate-LaBianca murders.
Although Judge Dell said he is not declaring any doubt as to Watson’s present sanity, he said he does not know if the defendant’s current activities in court constitute any mental problem.
Judge Dell noted that in an earlier court appearance Watson did respond to questions put to him by the court, but that he has not responded in his last two court appearances.
During yesterday’s proceedings Judge Dell asked Watson, if he understood his constitutional rights, and the defendant did not reply.
Earlier Judge Dell had appointed the public defender’s office to defend Watson after Watson’s attorney, Karl Ransom, pulled out of the case.
However, Judge Dell said the public defender’s office claims that a conflict of interest exists in its representation of Watson.
The conflict is a result of a deputy public defender having represented Robert Kenneth Beausoleil 22, condemned to death for the July 1969 murder of musician Gary Hinman.
Beausoleil was a member of Manson’s cult and Manson and one of his codefendants in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial, Susan Atkins 22, are also charged with Hinman’s murder.
Judge Dell said Bubrick has consented to represent Watson contingent on whether Watson will cooperate, or is able to cooperate in his own defense. At this point, Bubrick only will be permitted to read the psychiatric reports.
If there is any doubt to Watson’s present mental state, Bubrick will notify Judge Dell, who will then be able to read the reports.
On Nov. 6, Judge Dell will make a determination as to whether Watson can cooperate in his own defense.
With Bubrick’s permission, Judge Dell requested the psychiatrists to read the voluminous transcript of the proceedings before the Counts-Jury which indicted Watson and the others last December.
The judge ordered the psychiatrists to report mainly on two things — whether Watson is able presently to understand the proceedings against him and whether he is presently able to cooperate in a rational manner in his defense.
If possible, the judge said, the psychiatrists are also to report on Watson’s sanity at the tune of the crimes, and his capacity to form malice and to premeditate the slayings.
Although Judge Dell appointed the psychiatrists on his own motion, Bubrick told the court it was “the very thing I had in mind.”
Judge Dell said Bubrick is a “experienced and capable counsel” and “one of our most respected lawyers.” Bubrick has specialized in criminal law for 20 years.
Bubrick told newsmen he has already spoken twice to Watson for a period of about four hours.
The attorney would not concede there is anything mentally wrong with Watson, but said he always asks for psychiatric examinations for clients accused of crimes as serious as the Tate-LaBianca slayings.