Watson, A Zero In First Appearance
Saturday, September 19th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 19 – Charles “Tex” Watson, the fifth member of Charles Manson’s “family” charged with murder, made his first appearance in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial Friday but refused to give even his name.
The six-foot Texan, a former star athlete, who has successfully fought extradition for the past nine months, appeared in the Los Angeles Superior Court Department 104 as tempers flared between defense and prosecuting attorneys.
Two motions for mistrial were denied and a shouting match between three defense attorneys highlighted the close of the fifteenth week of the trial of the long-haired sex guru and three of his girl disciples — Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie Van Houten.
Watson appeared smiling and gaunt as he entered the courtroom to be greeted by smiles and waves from his former “family” members.
His appearance, however, triggered an outburst from Manson’s attorney, Irving Kanarek, who objected because the Texan’s appearance was “prejudicial.”
“I will ask for a mistrial if Tex Watson is brought before the jury,” Kanarek shouted to Superior Court Judge Charles Older. “It’s a show. There’s no probative value whatsoever. It’s like a vaudeville show.”
Kanarek’s objection was overruled, but he requested the mistrial in an at-the-bench conference. It also was denied.
Prosecution witness Danny DeCarlo, a former Manson “family” member, was asked to identify Watson as being at the ranch during the time of the Tate-LaBianca killings in August, 1969.
DeCarlo identified Watson, who was asked by Older to stand and give his name. Watson stood mute.
After Watson was taken from the courtroom Kanarek continued cross-examining DeCarlo about a conversation which he claims was interrupted by Dep. Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor.
Bugliosi, whose temper has flared often during the lengthy trial, jumped to his feet, shouting, “It’s Mr. Kanarek who has been interrupting me.”
The young prosecutor then apparently made an additional aside to Kanarek.
The burly defense attorney claimed Bugliosi’s conduct was “unbecoming a lawyer in a courtroom.”
“Your conduct is grounds for disbarment,” Bugliosi shouted in reply.
At that point, another defense attorney, Ronald Hughes, requested a mistrial, claiming Bugliosi’s statement prejudiced the case.
Older finally restored order and Kanarek resumed cross-examining the 26-year-old DeCarlo whose testimony has been most damning thus far to Manson.
DeCarlo earlier testified that he brought guns to the Spahn ranch, headquarters for the Manson family at the time of the killings, over the objections of the hippie leader.
“Weren’t you jealous of Charles Manson because of the attention given to him by the girls,” Kanarek asked. “Naw, there were enough girls to go around,” DeCarlo replied, “I had the time of my life there.”
In earlier testimony Friday, DeCarlo admitted that he had had three charges against him dismissed because of his testimony in the Gary Hinman murder case but denied that he had been promised anything for his testimony in the Tate-LaBianca murder case.
“My agreement with the D.A. was that if I testified they’d drop the charges (in the Robert Beautobleil trial). “I had agreed to do it before they offered. It wasn’t in return for anything. I would have testified anyway.”
Charges of grand theft, receiving stolen property and possession of marijuana were dismissed following DeCarlo’s testimony in the Beausoleil trial. Beausoleil was formerly a member of Manson’s “family” who was convicted and sentenced to death for the Hinman killing.
Manson, Miss Atkins, and Bruce Davis, who is still being sought by police, are also charged in the Hinman killing.
DeCarlo said there are three charges currently pending against him, including a federal charge of the illegal registration of a firearm.
DeCarlo has listed his occupation as that of a gunsmith in Medford, Ore.
At one point during defense attorney Daye Shinn’s cross-examination, Kanarek objected to DeCarlo being considered a gun expert.
DeCarlo turned his head, spit on the floor, and uttered an obscenity. Then, as Kanarek rose to object to the obscenity, DeCarlo pointed the gun used in the Tale killings at the defense attorney, cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger.
The click silenced Kanarek.
DeCarlo is expected to undergo further cross-examination when court resumes Monday. Thirty more prosecution witnesses are expected to be called to the stand, followed by at least a dozen defense witnesses.
By MARY NEISWENDER