Watson Pleads Innocence, Insanity in Tate Murders
Tuesday, May 11th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, May. 11 — Charles (Tex) Watson yesterday pleaded innocent and innocent by reason of insanity to charges of murder and conspiracy in the Tate-LaBianca slayings.
Superior Court Judge Malcolm M. Lucas set July 19 for trial.
The judge also appointed two psychiatrists to examine Watson, 25, who will be the fifth defendant to be tried to the August 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six other persons.
Charles Manson and three of his female followers already have been convicted and sentenced to death for their part in the slaying.
Watson’s attorney Sam Bubrick, told newsmen that the double plea is based, in part, on Watson’s use of drugs.
Bubrick also said Watson will be tried by a jury and the defendant will testify in his own behalf.
Superior Court Judge Adolph Alexander, who has a reputation as a prosecution-minded, no-nonsense jurist, will preside over Watson’s trial.
Watson entered the plea of innocent, and Bubrick entered the additional plea.
The psychiatric reports of the two doctors will be confidential and accessible only to the defense.
Judge Lucas ordered tin; psychiatrists to report on Watson’s mental condition at the time of the crimes, his present ability to understand to cooperate in his own defense and his mental capacity to deliberate and premeditate murder at the time the crimes occurred.
At Manson’s trial, the prosecution contended that Watson, on Manson’s orders, led the two murderous forays which resulted in the seven deaths.
Watson was not tried with Manson and the others because he had fought extradition from Texas.
While in custody here after extradition, Watson refused to eat and was committed to Atascadero State Hospital after being described as a “virtual vegetable.”
Bubrick told newsmen be thought the case was “just another one of those acid murders.”
The attorney said he did not believe the public realizes what a “mind destroyer” LSD is.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Stephen Kay, a co-prosecutor, said he felt Watson’s trial will be very similar to that of Sirhan Sirhan, convicted and condemned for the murder of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
“It will be another psychiatric symposium,” Kay said, referring to the mass of psychiatric testimony presented at the Sirhan trial.
The prosecutor estimated Watson’s trial will last from six to eight weeks.