My strange fascination with Charles Manson started when I was just a kid. I was around eleven years old and I was spending the night at a friend’s house. We were camped out in the basement with sleeping bags, horror movies, and plenty of junk food. It was great…until my friend fell asleep.
Since I wasn’t tired, naturally, I perused the bookshelves. My friend’s parents had a small library downstairs but most of the titles were unfamiliar to me. Apparently, Mrs. D. had a fascination with romance novels (definitely not my thing) and Mr. D. was a fan of biographies. Then, I noticed a title that piqued my curiosity. Helter Skelter. Okay, I was just a kid so I thought it was about The Beatles. Lucky me, it was even better!
Charles Manson was incarcerated long before I was born but his infamy will live on, long after I am worm food. As I mentioned yesterday, even experts assert that Manson is in a category all by himself. He had early forays into petty crimes but believed he had a bigger calling, to prepare the world for the upcoming race wars. A master manipulator, Charles Manson cultivated a following of approximately 100 disciples, or “Family” members. In an effort to shock the world from complacency and the 60’s love-fest mentality, Manson organized a series of gruesome murders. The Tate and LaBianca murders were the most publicized but Manson has been implicated in the deaths of at least 35 people.
The fawning adoration by his family fueled Manson’s megalomania, but during his trial, he flourished under the media spotlight. With a captive audience, his antics in the courtroom were front-page news. An ill-conceived approval allowing Manson to represent himself resulted in outlandish objections, rambling tirades, and an overall disruption in the courtroom. The judge quickly overturned the ruling and Manson was assigned an attorney. Later, in an effort to force a mistrial, Manson waited until the attorneys had their backs turned then held up the front page of the newspaper. The headline stated that the President believed Manson to be guilty. Between the shaved-head family members outside the courthouse, trying to raise money, and Charlie’s self-mutilation there was plenty of fodder for the media. Eventually, the X he had carved between his eyes morphed into a swastika and again his picture made front pages nationwide.
When the guilty verdict was finally read, Charles Manson had his say: "Mr. and Mrs. America--you are wrong. I am not the King of the Jews nor am I a hippie cult leader. I am what you have made me and the mad dog devil killer fiend leper is a reflection of your society... Whatever the outcome of this madness that you call a fair trial or Christian justice, you can know this: In my mind's eye my thoughts light fires in your cities.” Though originally sentenced to death, his sentence was commuted to life in prison. Since then, every single one of his appeals for parole has been denied.
And now for an odd pieces Manson Trial of trivia…. There were two judges that presided over the Manson trial. One was dismissed after Manson filed an affidavit of prejudice. That first judge, Judge William Keene, after retiring from the California Supreme Court, later presided over TV’s “Divorce Court” from 1984-1991.Until tomorrow, sleep well.