Monthly Archives: June 2012
Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
LAPD officers find themselves once again waiting on Texas to rule on Watson.
Dallas, Tex., Jun. 25 – In September of 1970, LAPD Sergeants Philip Sartuchi and Manuel “Chick” Gutierrez flew to Dallas to accompany Charles “Tex” Watson back to California so he could face trial for the Tate/LaBianca murders. They had waited for nine frustrating months, as Watson’s Texas attorney Bill Boyd appealed his client’s inevitable extradition all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Boyd’s sole purpose for stalling was to ensure Watson would be tried separately from Charles Manson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten.
“The condition of the judicial system in Texas is nothing short of shameful,” said Los Angeles Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi in May of 1970. “It’s calculated to frustrate the due administration of justice…shameful isn’t strong enough — it’s disgraceful.”
The delays had infuriated officials in Los Angeles to the point, that in July, County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn threatened to sue the state of Texas for $100,000 in damages.
Bill Boyd died suddenly in August of 2009, having a heart attack while running on his treadmill. Four months later Boyd’s law firm, Boyd/Veigel went into bankruptcy. Several items related to the Watson case were discovered when the firm’s assets were liquidated. Among them were audio recordings made between Watson and Boyd in 1970. Both Watson and the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office were contacted.
In September of 1976, Watson had signed a document that waived his attorney-client privilege so copies of the tapes could be sold to Chaplin Ray Hoekstra for $49,000. The recordings became the basis for Watson’s book with Chaplin Ray, Will You Die For Me?
This past March, LAPD sent a letter requesting the tapes to the Department of Justice. Detectives reasoned the recordings could provide information on possible unsolved crimes committed by the Manson family.
Last month a Texas bankruptcy court ordered the tapes be turned over to LAPD. The decision prompted a motion from both Charles “Tex” Watson and his local attorney. Both were denied.
According to Watson’s motion, “the LAPD’s letter to the Trustee…the Chief states: ‘THE LAPD has information that Mr. Watson discussed additional unsolved murders committed by the followers of Charles Manson.’ If this be so, and it is not. the request of the LAPD can be satisfied by listening the Tapes without taking possession of them LAPD.” Watson went on to write that he feared the tapes could end up in the media if LAPD were to take possession of them. And that could lead to further suffering for his victim’s families.
Watson was convicted and sentenced to death in 1971 for the seven Tate/LaBianca murders. His sentence was commuted to life on March 20, 1973 after the Supreme Court briefly outlawed the death penalty.
Watson was never charged or tried for the murder of Spahn Ranch hand Donald “Shorty” Shea.
In 1969, Shea was hired by Frank Retz to run the Manson family off of the Spahn Ranch property. Retz owned the neighboring property and was in negotiations to purchase a portion of Spahn. Retz didn’t like the family on either of the properties and called the police on them on several occasions. Manson placed blame on Donald Shea and was convinced he had been working with the police.
Sometime around August 28, 1969, Watson, along with Manson family members Bruce Davis and Steve Grogan, took a ride with Donald Shea. Shea was driving, with Watson sitting beside him. Watson instructed him to pull over, but Shea refused. Watson stabbed Shea and he finally pulled over. From the backseat, Grogan struck Shea with a pipe wrench. Another car containing Bill Vance, Larry Bailey, and Charles Manson pulled up behind them. The group took Shorty out of the car, brought him down a hill behind Spahn’s Movie Ranch and stabbed him to death.
Watson doesn’t discuss this murder in Will You Die For Me? So it’s likely he didn’t talk about it with Boyd. If that is the case, it’s doubtful these tapes contain any discussions about crimes other than the ones Watson was charged with.
LAPD had planned to fly to Dallas to take possession of the tapes on June 15. However, they canceled their plans when they learned Watson’s attorney William Kelly Puls planned to appeal to another court.
If and when the LAPD do take possession of the recordings, the tapes will be turned over the Scientific Investigation Division who will make digital copies for the Robbery Homicide Detectives to review.
Today, the eight cassette tapes sit waiting within a safe in a Dallas office building near the intersection of highways 635 and 75, locally known as the high five interchange.
Fifteen hundred miles away, at LAPD headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, officers wait for the tapes, just like the officers 4 decades ago waited for Watson himself.
Saturday, June 9th, 2012
Manson Family member Bruce Davis goes before the Board of Parole Hearings for the 27th time Wednesday
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif., Jun. 8 – On Thursday, Homicide detectives from the LAPD will travel to Texas to take custody of 4o-year-old audio recordings in which Manson family member Charles “Tex” Watson discusses his crimes with his former attorney Bill Boyd.
Another member of Charles Manson’s family will make headlines on Wednesday, when Bruce Davis goes before the California Board of Parole Hearings in San Luis Obispo for the 27th time.
Davis was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of Gary Hinman and Donald “Shorty” Shea. In prison he became a born-again Christian and helped other imprisoned family members do the same.
At his last hearing in January of 2010 the Board of Parole Hearings recommended Davis for parole. However, then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected the recommendation saying, “I believe his release would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society at this time.”
Prior to Davis’ 2010 hearing, he had been given 23 consecutive one year denials. In 2006, he received a split decision and was later denied after an En Banc hearing in November of that year.
He received 128s for cross visiting in 1981; excessive noise in 1987; leaving a classroom prior to the closing of the class in 1988; receiving unauthorized prescription glasses in 1988; and lying to staff in 1992.
Davis’ last 115 was received over 3 decades ago. He received a 115 in 1975 for sharpening a spoon and one for conduct in 1980.
Since his incarceration, Bruce has been active in many self-help and spiritual groups within the prison. He has continued his education, receiving a Master’s degree from Borean School of the Bible. In 1998, he received a Doctorate degree in philosophy and religion from Bethany Seminary, graduating summa cum laude.
Although Davis’ prison record is almost spotless, there is opposition to his release, and not just from LASO and the District Attorney’s office. There are a few former Manson family members that have made their opposition known to the board.
Former family member Barbara Hoyt has not only written the board opposing Davis’ release, she testified in person at the November 20, 2006 En Banc hearing. The board has previously received an opposition letter from former family member Ella Jo Bailey. Bailey expressed that Davis had downplayed his role in the family and that he actually held a position of power within the group.
Despite this, Davis’ has plenty of supporters, both in and out of prison. And unlike hearings for the Tate-Labianca killers, there aren’t anyone from the Shea or Hinman families making victim impact speeches to the board.
There is little reason to believe the California Board of Prison Hearings will deny Davis’ parole bid this Wednesday. Which would mean the only thing keeping Davis in prison would be the Governor’s office.
According to an AP report in February, current California Governor Jerry Brown has allowed about 80 percent of decisions by the parole board to free convicted killers. Former Governor Schwarzenegger had allowed only 25 percent while former Governor Gray Davis allowed just 2 percent to walk free.