Courtroom Theatrics

Outbursts, bizarre, raucous, boisterous behavior continued throughout the trial.

The trial spun from dramatic to ridiculous to frightening. Manson would make periodic outbursts from time to time in the courtroom which his followers, all young women, would chant rhythmically.

During the trial, obvious signs of Charles Manson’s control over the family members was exhibited. At one point, Manson turned around and refused to face the judge. His followers, as well as his co-defendants did the same. When he shaved his head and carved an “X” in his forehead, they did as well.

The trial spun from dramatic to ridiculous to frightening. Manson would make periodic outbursts from time to time in the courtroom which his followers, all young women, would chant rhythmically, occasionally in Latin.

Several times, Judge Older banished the defendants from the courtroom for raucous behavior. He set up a monitor system so they could watch from nearby cells.

One of the most frightening moments of the trial played out on October 5, 1970 when Charles Manson was rambling on and Judge Older told him to keep quite. Manson then said:

MANSON: “The moment I see you are going to kill me, do you know what I am going to do?”

JUDGE OLDER: “What are you going to do?” “I’m going to have you removed Mr Manson, if you do not stop”.

MANSON: “I’m going to have ‘you’ removed, if you do not stop. I have a little system of my own.”

Manson then jumped headfirst from the defense table toward the judge’s bench. The courtroom broke into pandemonium. After a husky deputy sheriff threw himself across the table to subdue him, Mr. Manson screamed while being removed from the courtroom:

MANSON: “You think I’m kidding? In the name of Christian justice, someone should cut your head off.”

All of these theatrics worked to the detriment of the defendants. Manson and four of his following killers were subsequently convicted on all counts. This is somewhat extraordinary, because Charles Manson never actually was present at the Tate murder scene. Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi was faced with a difficult endeavor as it was. He proved that Charles Manson, although not a direct participant, had ordered the Tate-LaBianca killings. He was present at the LaBianca scene, only long enough to tie up the victims. He then walked outside and told his followers to “kill them.”

All of the defendants were sentenced to death which was later commuted to life in prison when California’s laws were changed. Although he has come up for parole several times already, there is little doubt as to whether he will remain in prison. At various times Charles Manson’s “family” numbered a hundred or more. Most of those have faded away. However, if you look around you can still find stragglers. The murders committed at the command of this lone madman were astounding and senseless. Fortunately the investigation produced convictions for all involved. They serve life sentences.


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