• Trial of Manson Opens

Trial of Manson Opens

LOS ANGELES, Jun. 15 – The long-delayed murder-conspiracy trial of four hippie-type clan members opens today — more than 10 months after the bizarre slayings of actress Sharon Tate and six others.

Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older, intent on getting the trial under way, hastily disposed of all pretrial motions Friday.

Charles Manson, shaggy-haired leader of a nomadic “family,” stands trial along with three shapely women followers.

Manson, 35, and codefendants Susan Atkins, 21, Leslie Van Houten, 20, and Patricia Krenwinkel, 22, were ejected from court during three tumultuous pretrial hearings last week when they refused to sit down.

On Friday, Manson — the slight, dark-eyed clan leader once called “God” and “Christ” by his followers — scuffed with bailiffs after he assumed a crucifixion pose with arms extended and head bowed. The young women assumed the same pose. Manson wrestled with bailiffs trying to seat him, and the women shouted at the judge before they were removed from court.

Older indicated he will eject them again if they act up — under a recent Supreme Court decision which says an unruly defendant may be barred from court or bound and gagged during trial. If barred, they would listen to proceedings from adjoining rooms.

Their lawyers have objected that the constitutional right to confront their accusers would be violated if they are ousted. A lengthy jury selection process is anticipated.

Because they are being tried jointly, California law bars admission of the original pretrial statements in which Miss Atkins told a fellow prisoner about the killings. The account later was published.

Miss Atkins said the first five slayings, at Miss Tate’s hilltop house in Bel Air, were motivated by a grudge against the rich. She said the killings the next night of a wealthy market owner, Leon LaBianca, and his wife, were intended to show the killers hadn’t lost their nerve.

Both murder sites were studded with ritualistic effects — ropes, hoods, and “PIG” scrawled in blood.

Miss Atkins is said to have told the same account, which included other specifics, to the grand jury that handed down the indictments. But prosecutors said Friday they won’t try to introduce her grand jury testimony as evidence. The tall brunette’s lawyer has said she would deny the whole tale in court, saying she lied.

The state apparently will rely instead on eye witness testimony of another defendant — Linda Kasabian, 21, a young mother whose trial has been severed from the others. Her lawyer has said she will testify for the state in return for immunity.

A sixth person accused in the slayings — Charles “Tex” Watson, 24 — is fighting extradition from Texas.

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