Showing posts with label Bobby Beausoleil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bobby Beausoleil. Show all posts

Thursday, January 3, 2019


Lynyrd Weighs-in:

I found a document published by the California Department of Corrections (2011) which gives a statistical breakdown of actual prison time served by inmates.

The statistics are broken-down by specific crime... i.e., 1st degree murder, manslaughter, rape, etc.

In short, it states the mean/median time served by an inmate (for a specific crime) before they are first paroled.

According to the document, inmates convicted of first degree murder (pre 11-8-78) serve an average of 408 months in California, before they are released on parole.

408 months = 34 years

Extrapolate what you will from those figures, but statistics are hard to dispute.

Post 11-8-78, the average first degree murderer serves 344 months in California, which translates to 28.5 years.

I'm not a fan of Bobby, and personally, I'd have no problem seeing him die in jail.
He has a smug attitude, which I find repelling.

However, I'm also a firm believer that punishment should be carried-out in a consistent manner. People perpetrating similar crimes, should serve similar sentences.

If we feel that our justice system is being too lenient on crime (in general), we should enact laws which are tougher (across the board) on EVERYONE.

I think it's pretty safe to conclude (at this point) that being associated with "the Manson Family" (and the notoriety that entails), creates obstacles for Bobby, Bruce and Leslie (in terms of parole) that the average (unknown) inmate will never know.

Common sense and statistical data seem to support that conclusion.

I guess, how one feels about this apparent "double standard" situation, depends largely upon one's personal feelings towards Bobby, versus their feelings regarding consistency in punishment.

At any rate, here's the PDF document:

As I said previously, extrapolate what you will...


Yours Truly,

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Friday, October 14, 2016

Manson Family Member Bobby Beausoleil Denied Parole

Charles Manson follower convicted of July 1969 murder of Gary Hinman

California prison officials denied Manson Family member Bobby Beausoleil parole for the 18th time Friday, over 47 years after Beausoleil was convicted of the July 1969 murder of musician Gary Hinman. Beausoleil can reapply for parole again in 2019, when he will be 71 years old, The Associated Press reports.
Beausoleil's attorney Jason Campbell said, "There's absolutely no doubt in my mind, if released, Bobby will be just a model citizen. I think he's a very insightful and introspective person, and there is nothing about him that is dangerous."

Beausoleil, who was already in prison at the time of the Manson Family's infamous murders of Sharon Tate and the LaBiancas, was initially given the death penalty, but that sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972 after the California Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional.

In 1994, Beausoleil was transferred to an Oregon penitentiary, where he remained until 2015, when he was moved to California Medical Facility in Vacaville following the death of his wife.

While incarcerated in Oregon, Beausoleil maintained a prolific online presence, selling his prison-made artwork and music through his website with permission from Oregon authorities. However, upon moving to the California facility, Beausoleil failed to receive permission from that state's authorities to record his music for sale, which impacted his parole chances.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey also said in a statement that Beausoleil's parole was denied due to the heinous nature of the murder – Beausoleil stabbed Hinman to death on Charles Manson's orders, marking the first murder tied to the Manson family – and because he remains a danger to society.

An aspiring musician at the time and one of Manson's chief recruiters, Beausoleil was arrested August 6th, 1969 after being spotted driving Hinman's car. Two days later, after Manson declared "Helter Skelter," Manson Family members killed actress Sharon Tate and four other people, followed by the murders of the LaBiancas the next night.

Hinman's cousin Kay Martley told the AP "thank god" following the probation board's Beausoleil ruling. "He killed, murdered my cousin and it was gruesome. Three days they kept him and tortured him. All of this just comes back, even after 47 years."

In July, California governor Jerry Brown denied former Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten parole, even though the Board of Parole Hearings recommended her release earlier in the year.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Milky Way, The Corral Night Club in Topanga Canyon, and Ernie Knapp

Not much has been said about the little band Charles Manson started in late 1967. I only recall Charlie, Bobby Beausoleil, and possibly Paul Watkins, mentioning the little band they formed called "The Milky Way".  

I suppose the reason they never discussed it much, is because the group only played one night together. That one gig was played at the Topanga Corral (now long gone, it burned down)... but it had been a happening place in the 1960's.

It's said that Canned Heat, Neil Young, and Taj Mahal played there. It's also rumored that  Road House Blues by the immortal Jim Morrison was written about Topanga Corral.  Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda were regulars there. It's too bad it burned down in the 1970's. I missed out!

Ernie Knapp: "I played in a band with Charles Manson".
Charles Manson and Ernie Knapp (1969)
The following interview was submitted by a friend of the blog, named Viktor.
Thank You so much Viktor! This is so cool!

A guy by the name of Ernie Knapp (a session musician that played bass with the Beach Boys in concert during 1981-82) was interviewed (last year) by Sonny Vincent (a musician in his own right). 

During the interview, Ernie talks about being the bass player in a band with Charles Manson called "The Milky Way", which played one show at the Topanga Corral.

Side note: 

"The Snake Pit" was a seedy area in lower Topanga, built in a debris/flood basin during the 1920's.  In Ed Sanders book "The Family", he talks about the "Spiral Staircase"... a house that had slid off its foundation during a flood. According to Sanders, the DeGrimstons of the "The Process Church" owned or rented this place. Lots of bikers, homeless, druggies, hippies, and the Manson Family called this place home for a while in the late 60's.

Here is part of the interview by Sonny Vincent and Ernie Knapp:

ERNIE: Well, that was in the fall of 1967. I had been going to college down in San Diego for two years before that and I had just got kicked out for smoking pot. So I was back in LA at my parents’ house trying to figure out what to do next. My friend there, Bay Johnson, owned a couple of little houses and little shacks down in a place in Topanga Canyon called ‘The Snake Pit’. It was a real hippie area of little cabins and shacks and a few old houses across the coast highway from the beach, kind of in the river bed. That place is all gone now. It all got wiped out in a flood.

SV: What was it called? The Snake what?
ERNIE: The Snake Pit.
SV: The Snake Pit. OK, sorry I have a problem with this microphone. OK, got it…
ERNIE: Yeah, Bay had bought these little houses ‘cause he had a bunch of hash that his brother had smuggled into the country and anyway that’s another story. And he was renting them to these two musicians, Desi Nod and Johnny Riggins, who were guys that were like 5 years older than me, who were like my idols, you know? They were in the big bands around west LA at that time and even going back into the early 60s. And so I had played with them. I was just kind of starting to play the guitar. I had got to play with them a couple of times and was excited about that and, anyway, when I got into LA in 1967 they took me down there to visit them. And this guy Charlie had just came down from San Francisco in this big yellow school bus and he had like 5 or 6 girls with him in his bus and Bay was all… getting with the girls…real cute girls…and Charlie moved into this biggest house down there in The Snake Pit. And then it turned out that Charlie met these guys, these musicians, and they decided to start a band. So they introduced me to him and told me they were looking for a guitar player and would I like to audition. So I went down there the next day.
SV: So he was actually auditioning people?
ERNIE: Yeah.
SV: (laughs) OK.
ERNIE: So I went down there the next day and walked into Charlie’s living room. It was Charlie and his whole clan. He also had a couple of real gnarly kind of biker dudes with him who were not very nice at all. In fact, when and while I was setting up, one guy pulled a knife on somebody else and Charlie had to stop a big fight. So it was a little tense. And I was nervous. I was set up in that living room with people in a big circle all around me, getting ready to check me out. I had learned the night before… you know that song, that was brand new back then… that Cream song that goes tatataratata ta?
SV: Oh, yeah, ‘Sunshine Of Your Love?
ERNIE: Probably the most cliché lick in all history of music now, you know? Now people play it as a joke. So, anyway, I played that and they liked it. They said, “OK, yeah, you can be in the band.” We had one rehearsal and the rehearsal was really intimidating too ‘cause they brought in some other keyboard player from Malibu who I didn’t know and who was not very nice. The two older guys I knew, Johnny and Desi. They were pretty nice to me. And Charlie was OK. But I was really intimidated, you know, so I wasn’t playing very assertively. The biker dudes started hassling me at the rehearsal. I remember Charlie stood up for me. I was twenty years old and the guys in the room were probably thirty back then. Charlie said, “Hey, the kid is nervous but give him a chance and he’ll be fine.” So I relaxed and then it was good. We learned, uh, like 8 songs and about half of them were Charlie’s and his songs, you know, were weird. They were kind of old fashioned jazz chords and real meandering progressions that didn’t go really anywhere. Knowing more about him now, I could kind of imagine how he would have all day to sit around in his cell playing the guitar, you know? [*Sonny’s note: I have listened to many recordings of Manson’s music and I like it.]
SV: Sure, man.
ERNIE: You know, everybody were good sports and figured out parts of the songs and we could play them. Then we learned a few standards rock and blues songs that everybody knew. We wind up a couple of days later and auditioned at The Corral which is a club high up in Topanga Canyon. At that time, it was a full-on redneck bar.
SV: So you guys …cool….this is getting way more detailed than I hoped. I thought you merely kind of jammed a couple of times but you auditioned and then you were accepted as a member of Charlie Manson’s band? Now you guys are together and going for an audition at a club. Jesus, Ernie!!
ERNIE: (laughs) Yeah.
SV: Wow, OK.
ERNIE: We went up there in the afternoon and Charlie was gonna call the band ‘The Solar System’. But anyway…
SV: Hey, Ernie, were you guys like all mega stoned and everything at this jam sessions and rehearsals and all?
ERNIE: There were people smoking pot and stuff but it was pretty business-like as far as getting some songs together and going up and playing.
SV: So you seriously were putting a band together. That’s an amazing part of your history, Ernie!
ERNIE: So we went up and set up in the bar in the afternoon and played for the owner and, you know, some other kind of barfly guys hanging around. It didn’t go over at all with them. This was a country western bar.
SV: Hey, Ernie, can I stop for a minute just to crosscheck the tape. I wanna make sure we are rolling good…so we are rolling. So this redneck country bar…
ERNIE: Yeah. And our band was not received well and they kind of told us to get the hell out of there. So we all left. And literally a couple of days later I moved up to Mammoth. My cousin had just gone up there and gotten a job.
SV: Where is that? Mammoth?
ERNIE: Yeah, Mammoth Mountain. A ski resort up in the Sierras.
SV: Ah, OK.
ERNIE: And my cousin had gotten a job as a bus boy in this big fancy restaurant right at the ski lift and said there was an opening. So I went up there and I had a great time. I became a ski bum for like two months.
SV: So you guys did the audition at the country bar and then you split town?
ERNIE: Yeah.
ERNIE: And then I moved straight from Mammoth to Santa Barbara to get back into college ‘cause I had gotten my 1A draft notice. So I had to hustle. I got back into UCSB for the spring quarter which got the draft off my back. Then I was just living in Santa Barbara and, actually in my recollection, that’s where later, it was around 1969 I think, when everything blew up with Charlie. Where I was…I think I was walking into the Student Union at UCSB and saw, you know, the LA Times in a news rack with his face, you know, covering the whole sheet, the whole page. I just went, “Holy shit!! Uhh…Charlie!!” My feelings about it, even at that time, it was…it was creepy in the way the people were with Charlie and the way he was with them. It was very manipulative and it was real uncomfortable for me.
SV: Ah, so I got the part right about the newspaper but the location was different. OK. So, you noticed something, even in the early times when you first met Charlie, it was not like what you will encounter with people who are more in harmony with each other. You clearly saw something that was somehow out of balance, eh?
ERNIE: Definitely, and plus he had these evil guys with him too, you know? They really were menacing. I mean, they were thugs. The whole deal in that era…there were a lot of little communes and little hippie groups trying to set up their little places, you know, all over the place…up in the mountains and everywhere you went. And a lot of them…well, Charlie really plugged into people. Everybody was really trying to be more hip than each other, and it was like “I can be freer than you, I can be more free of all this square bullshit than you”, you know?
SV: Uh huh.
ERNIE: He kind of got people, I think. It’s just my own little theory , you know, that was part of how he keep pushing everybody with him to be wilder and I guess ultimately do what he wanted.
SV: Ernie, that’s all amazing.
ERNIE: I didn’t go back to LA much and I never did see him again, but I did hear stuff later through my playing with The Beach Boys. He had a lot of interaction with The Beach Boys and, in particular, Dennis Wilson. Yeah, one day a couple of Charlie’s girls were hitchhiking and Dennis picked them up. That’s how Charlie first met Dennis. They all moved into Dennis’s house and later The Beach Boys actually, you know, recorded a song that Charlie wrote!
SV: Yes, I know that. That’s pretty crazy. And it’s also weird that you wind up playing with The Beach Boys. This is like some kind of weird crossing the universe, you know what I mean? [*Sonny’s note: That’s weird, way fuckin’ weird.]
ERNIE: Yeah! But, you know, but….the theory that I kind of believe in is that Bruce Johnston’s good friend Terry Melcher, Doris Day’s son, was a big music producer in those days. And somehow The Beach Boys got Charlie hooked up with Terry Melcher to produce Charlie and then the whole deal fell through. Charlie was real disappointed and Terry Melcher used to live in the house that Charlie attacked.
SV: Yeah, the Polanski house. Yes, I know the story really well. That’s why it’s so intriguing to me.
ERNIE: Yeah and it’s just…God, how horrible, you know?
SV: Yeah, how weird. Hey, Ernie, let’s get away from Charlie for a moment before we start entering people’s houses and what not, you know?
ERNIE: (laughs)
Ernie with Carl Wilson
To read and LISTEN to the entire interview, go here:


Excerpted from Ed Sanders' book, page 29

Bobby Beausoleil - Oui Magazibe Interview - November 1981

ALB: Were you living at Gary Hinman's at the time?

BB: No, I wasn't living with Gary. I had stayed with him previous to that. I joined a band, The Milky Way, that Charlie was in. That's how I met him. He was a very talented songwriter good musician, lyrically, just excellent. 
He was somebody with an incredibly intense, vivid, expanded imagination because of all the time he's done.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Letter from Bobby B after 2005 parole hearing

I found this draft that Kimchi did.  I thought it appropriate now that Bobby is having another parole hearing.  Thanks Kimchi!!  It's a lot of words....

Thought I would post a letter from Bobby B. after his 2005 parole hearing and his explanation of the Claire Obscure Art Gallery exhibit and other things as this seems to be a hot topic at the moment:

December 18, 2005

Dear loved ones and friends,

It makes my heart ache to have to tell you that I will be unable to join you in the free world until. . . well maybe until hell freezes over, from the looks of things. My fifteenth parole hearing since I became eligible for parole in August of 1976 has ended in a denial of parole for an additional three years.

I went into the hearing energized and upbeat, but without expectations, focused on communicating effectively while remaining detached from the outcome. Still, I could not help feeling somewhat hopeful. After all, Carolyn Hagin, my attorney, had prepared an impeccable presentation for the hearing. It incorporated numerous letters from family and friends, all eloquent and heartfelt in their expressions of support for my release, attesting to my character, abilities, and contributions to the community. Along with these were included solid parole plans with secure residence, offers of employment and a family support network, an excellent work and education history, an extremely positive psychological evaluation summery, etc. It is doubtful the Board has ever seen a presentation more strongly indicative and supportive of an individual’s suitability for release on parole. Despite my resolve to remain detached for the outcome, throughout the hearing, I could not help feeling optimistic.

So when the decision was rendered, and I realized that I will be 61 years old and have been in prison for 40 years when – as presently scheduled – my suitability for parole will next be considered, I was stunned. It knocked the wind out of me.

Ironically, the hearing actually went very well, for the most part. It was conducted in as professional a manner as the physical circumstances would allow.

The hearing panel was cooperative in making a factually accurate, hysteria-free summery of the events that brought me to prison. I was allowed to speak freely and honestly and at length about what I think and feel about these experiences, and what I’ve learned from them. Commissioner Farmer, the chair, was particularly encouraging and receptive in this process. The Deputy Commissioner, Ms. Grammer-April, was also professional, asking questions and listening to the answers in a manner that was helpful. Like the last several hearings, no reporters from the press were present in the hearing room to make everyone feel self-conscious. More than any previous hearing, it seemed to me there was an air of fairness to the proceedings.

Respectful attention was given to each letter of support individually and (over the L.A. prosecutor’s objections) I was allowed to comment on the nature and scope of each relationship. A good deal of attention was also given to some of the extraordinary endeavors and activities I’ve been involved in, and their far-reaching benefits.

Things got a bit dicey when the prosecutor from Los Angeles insinuated a recent “fearful” letter and attached computer printout from my confidential file into the hearing process. (That the prosecutor was privy to these items raises some suspicion that he was somehow involved in how they came to be placed in the confidential file, because by the rules neither an inmate’s attorney or the representative from the D.A.’s office is permitted to view the contents of this file without court order.

The panel had stated early in the hearing that no confidential information would be relied upon; later, I heard the prosecutor tell the panel to take a second look at the confidential documents.

The letter was barely mentioned and seemed of little concern. The attached printout obviously raised some eyebrows, however. I could not see it because my hearings are conducted over telephone between Oregon and California, and I had no “eyes” in the hearing room because my attorney could not be present (Carolyn will be giving birth to her second child in mid-January, and is on maternity leave from her practice). I was able to glean from the comments made that the printout consisted of a portion of a web page on the Clair Obscure Gallery website, where some of my artwork has been on display. Of the 36 pieces of my art on display there, only the few erotic pieces I did many years ago were included on the printout, apparently. Later I would learn that it also included some mention of Manson, but I’m still not certain in what context his name appeared in the printout.

There were some questions about my having done erotic art. I answered them candidly and honestly, explaining that they are part of a much larger body of work that I have produced over these many years. I explained that most of the more overtly erotic pieces depicted on the printout (the titles were mentioned) were created for Barbara, originally intended as a private expression of intimacy between the two of us, and that we decided to display them within the context of the larger body of work as a retrospective. This seemed to satisfy the hearing panel, more or less, but I sensed there was some sort of complication. Due largely to the archaic mechanism by which we were forced to communicate I was unable to put my finger on what it was until it was too late. I was literally blind-sided.

Throughout the hearing, up to this point the specter of the Charles Manson persona loomed large, like the proverbial elephant in the room that everyone is trying to avoid talking about. I spoke frankly about my relationship with him when the topic came up. The panel seemed to appreciate my candor and to respect my responses. I have reached the point in my life where it has become natural to simply tell it like it is. Perhaps this is why there had been relatively little focus on my former association with Manson, and refreshingly more attention on what has occurred since.

This was clearly frustrating to the prosecutor from L.A., who was chomping at the bit to have his say. I surmise that when the hearing was first begun last June and he had had an opportunity to review a copy of our presentation, all the letters of support, etc., he realized that his case was weak. Unlike his relatively low-key presentation last hearing, he came armed for bear when the hearing was resumed last week.

When the prosecutor’s turn came, he immediately launched into a vitriolic attack on my character. It consisted essentially of a scattergun regurgitation of Helter Skelter misinformation, in addition to some bits that I had never heard before and seemed to be drawn from thin air, laced with insinuation and innuendo. Naturally, there was a lot of Manson this and Manson that – intended, of course, to generate a cloud of suspicion and mistrust and prejudice deriving from the Manson hysteria. This is a typical tactic, in my experience, and is usually pretty effective. It serves notice of the potential, if parole is granted, for political fallout of a particularly unpleasant sort.

In my summation, which immediately followed, I was able to cut through the bullshit and clear the air to a considerable degree. But enough damage had been done to sabotage the hearing. Assuming the elephant in the room had not posed too great of an obstacle, and if the hearing panel had seriously been considering granting parole, the hope that it would was dashed at that point. I had been re-prosecuted yet again, painted with the ugly brush so that I would be barely recognizable even to myself: an implied threat to the Board that “the people of California” could get nasty if it dares to release me.

After a forty-minute recess for deliberation, the hearing was resumed. In rendering the decision finding me unsuitable for parole, Commissioner Farmer sited, as usual, the severity of the crime. The essential facts of the case will never change. I killed a man for reasons that seem, and were, trivial. I forfeited any say in how much punishment is enough, so I must accept, along with all of the other consequences for my actions, the repeated recitation of what I did. I have no one to blame for the choices I’ve made, and their consequences, but myself.

Then came the part informing me that the panel had determined that an additional period of three years was needed to evaluate my readiness for parole. He stated that it would be unreasonable to assume that sufficient change could occur in less time than that.

At this point Commissioner Farmer broke with formality and explained his reasons for this decision. I was impressed by his candor. Even though what he was telling me was devastating, I was appreciative of his willingness to be up front and open in telling me his reasoning for determining that 36 years of imprisonment was not enough. This was a first.

The hinge pin was the computer printout. I thought that maybe the erotic art was going to be a sticking point, but I was wrong about that. Commissioner Farmer carefully stated that he was not a prude, that while some people might consider explicit adult fantasy art to be pornography (as the prosecutor had suggested), he did not. It was not the nature of the art that bothered him . . .

No, what disturbed the hearing panel, he said, is that as late as 2005, this very year, I had contracted with an agent or gallery owner to allow my artwork to be displayed and marketed to the public in a manner that exploited the notoriety of my crime and the Manson connection to promote sales of my art and music (the Dreamways CD). This, he said, demonstrated a “serious lapse of judgment” that required a longer period of confinement so that there would be adequate time to allow the Board to evaluate my “ability to maintain a distance from Manson” in the public eye, and refrain from involvement with such displays in the future. He mentioned – again, with surprising candor – that he was concerned about possible repercussions from the governor and the public if he were to vote to parole me under the present circumstances.

I wanted to scream STOPP!!!!!!! I wanted to have an opportunity to tell him that he had made a mistake, to explain that the conclusion he had arrived at was based on evidence that was faulty due to omission of the original context, that was “cooked” to mislead. I wanted an opportunity to present evidence of my own to demonstrate that there had been no attempt to capitalize on the Manson connection or my crime as a strategy for promoting the Dreamways series art show, and any other work I have created.

I have been adamant in my communications with everyone who has assisted me in publishing my work that it be allowed to succeed or fail on its own merits. I have, in all cases, asked them to avoid making public references to the criminal part of my past except as necessary to meet the most basic requirements of ethical disclosure (it would be criminal of me to not be honest and divulge that this element exists). For the gallery show of my art I authorized the use of an “artist bio” that summarizes my life from birth to the present, and includes a very brief passing mention of Manson amid comments on the most essential circumstances of my imprisonment these many years; included with the intention of minimally meeting the basic requirements of ethical disclosure. I will provide each of you with a copy of this brief bio. Unless there is some other mention of Manson in relation to me on the gallery’s website that I am unaware of, it was this document that the hearing panel based their decision to find me unsuitable for parole.

Anyway, I had to resist the temptation to scream out during the recitation of the hearing decision and beg for an opportunity to clarify matters before the door was slammed in my face. By then it was too late. Once the parole hearing had gone into recess for deliberations, the opportunity to present additional information or speak for myself had passed. Mr. Farmer seemed pained by the decision he had been forced to arrive at. I waited for him to finish talking out of politeness, then hung up the phone.

So there you have it: the whole story, of the best and worst parole hearing I’ve ever had.

Where to from here?

I have spoken with Carolyn, and we have discussed all of this. We will be taking the outcome of the hearing on appeal in superior court as soon as the decision becomes final, which will occur at around the time that Carolyn returns to work from maternity leave, about 120 days from now.

There are more than adequate grounds for a successful appeal. There are at least several glaring errors, both substantive and technical. Not least of which is that the document central to my being denied parole, the computer printout from the website, was the one document that I was not provided a copy of prior to the hearing. There was no way that I could have reviewed the information in advance of the hearing and prepared an appropriate answer to it. And in fact I could not even see the document while the hearing was taking place, making it virtually impossible to have formed an adequate response on the fly.

This violates one of the Board of Prison Terms’ most fundamental rules: that the prisoner be provided with copies of all documentation that the hearing panel will be relying on far enough in advance of the hearing (10-30 days is typical) to allow for reasonable preparation. That this basic requirement was not met is inexcusable.

Ordinarily the goal of an appeal is to get a new hearing. It makes more sense in this case to reopen the hearing that just took place. I want to keep the record established in this hearing intact and add to it my answer to the information that was insinuated into the hearing process midway. I may (if Carolyn agrees) write a letter to Commissioner Farmer, gambling on the off chance that he will act to reopen the hearing on his own volition when I point out to him the nature and magnitude of the mistake that has been made in the handling of my hearing. The BPT is not known for revisiting its own decisions without being forced to by an order from the courts, but I figure it’s worth a shot.

The parole board has recently eliminated the direct administrative appeal process. This is a good thing, as it was nearly always a useless waste of time. Seeking remedy in court is now the only available recourse in most cases.

In order to pursue this course of action, Carolyn will need to be paid her reasonable fees for preparing the writ and making court appearances. I do not have adequate funds to cover these costs. I will state this plainly and without shame: You can count on me to stand my ground and do my part in the fight, but I need some help. If you are in a position to make a contribution to cover some of my attorney’s fees for what’s ahead, and you would like to help in this way, you may send funds to her in my behalf to the following address.

Carolyn M. Hagin, Attorney
Pier Five Law Offices
506 Broadway
San Francisco, CA 94133

Phone: 415-986-5591

There is another way you can help me to meet this challenge, one that may well be even more important than helping me to get my case into court.

I am faced with a very serious dilemma, and I must soon make a decision that will undoubtedly determine the direction of my life from this point forward. Ultimately the course of action (or non-action) I choose will be my decision alone, but before I make that decision I would very much appreciate having the benefit of your venerable collective wisdom.

Before me are two paths, each very different in what they demand of me and all of the people closest to me, each with its own set of possible advantages and potential perils.

Path A:

If I choose this path I would comply with the parole board’s recent recommendations to avoid any activity that may even remotely be construed as an attempt to promote my work, or myself or to profit by it, on the basis of criminal notoriety such as my long-ago association with Manson. Effectively this means that I would have to curtail all efforts to publish my work or publicly communicate directly with the world at large – to pull my music releases off the market, to stop showing and selling my art to the public, to decline interviews, to suspend any plans to publish my first book, to pull down the websites and cease my ongoing public dialogue. It means that I would have to hunker down, keep a low profile, maintain good prison behavior and work record, and make myself as invisible to the public as possible.

Among the possible benefits of choosing this route are that with the passage of time I may shake the “Manson cooties” enough for the L.A. district attorney’s office to lose interest in opposing my release. By demonstrating my willingness to comply with the parole board’s recommendations over a long enough period of time, they may reward me with my heart’s desire – to be with my beloved Barbara in the home she has made for us, enjoying the company of our children and grandchildren, and be generally engaged in life as a free man.

The potential pitfalls of this course of action (or rather, inaction) include the distinct possibility that the Manson specter will continue to morph unchecked into ever more bizarre mutations, and that, correspondingly, resistance from the D.A.’s office to releasing anyone associated with Manson will be insurmountable to me and to the parole board as well. There will be little to show for the years creatively and artistically wasted, sacrificed in the hope of a result for which there are no guarantees of any payoff, ever. And if I am released, may be just in time to gulp a few deep breaths of freedom from prison before I die.

This may seem an extreme response, but I see no way to avoid any potential risk with halfway measures. In practice, ironically, the Manson association has proven to be more of a liability than an asset when displaying and offering my work publicly. Still, there is bound to be someone who will adopt the position that my work could not possibly be of interest to anyone on its own legitimate value as art. No matter how conscientious I am (as I have been) in avoiding the appearance of exploiting some misbegotten notoriety as an expedient for marketing my work, there’s just no sure-fire way to avoid being perceived as pandering to people who are interested in that sort of thing. Perception, not fact – much less truth – defines what is real for most people.

The workaround of publishing under an assumed name is simply absurd. The style is distinctive and already known under my own name. And besides, it is conceivable that I could be held liable for fraud if I fail to disclose the true origins of the work that I publish.

So I’m stuck with what appears to be an either/or choice. As one who is an artist by nature, I’m sickened by the prospect that the price of my release from prison may be to stop expressing who I am for an extended period of time.

Path B:

The alternative path would be to stay the course.

Years ago, when I consented to do the interview with Michael Moynihan for Seconds magazine, I made a covenant with myself in relation to the world. After many years of keeping a low public profile and getting much stagnation and status quo in my life as a result, I resolved to open myself to scrutiny to a degree that I had not previously permitted, to reveal not only those parts that I’m proud of, that it pleases me to show, but to shine a light into the dark shadows where the shameful parts are as well. Essentially, I resolved to allow myself to be an open book. I knew the risks, but it seemed to me that if I wanted the world to open to me, I had to be willing to be open to the world. Until last week I had no reason to doubt that my decision to begin this process had been the right one.

If I decide to continue along this path it would be to do so with even greater dedication and resolve, putting myself out there in the world through my art, my music, my writings, and being willing to answer, honestly and forthrightly, any reasonably intelligent question posed to me by individuals or responsible public media.

What purpose and meaning there may ever be to my being here may be to stand alone in the center of my own essential goodness and surrender to allowing the true nature of who I am to radiate outward in ever widening ripples. This is my one life, it is finite, and I become increasingly aware of this as I enter my sunset years. What meager gifts I have to offer are nothing if I don’t give them.

At the very least, following this path would permit me to add to a legacy of creative expression and some modest redeeming services. I want to be able to give this to my loved ones, to my sons and daughters and to my grandchildren, and to anyone who might benefit thereby. I want to be able to leave a legacy good enough, responsible enough, and substantive enough to relegate “Manson killer” to a mere footnote too insignificant to negatively impact their lives.

Part of this legacy would be the effects Between Love and Fear, my book-in-progress, could eventually have on the social conscience. If I’m a good storyteller, and fearless in the telling, this book might initiate the sort of self-searching community dialogue that could result in a more enlightened understanding. What I want, what I hope, is that this work will help to ignite a beam intense enough to bore right to the malignant heart of the imbroglio spawned by Helter Skelter, and sink its gratuitous influence on western culture (it would be a travesty to allow that literary monstrosity to remain the historic record of those tragic events).

Among the potential benefits is the possibility that these efforts could bring about a change of heart on the part of the parole board, that they might even forgive me for defying the recommendation Commissioner Farmer emphatically made to me at the conclusion of the hearing. Stranger things have happened.

Which points up Path B’s only obvious downside – running the risk of never being granted parole, and dying in prison. It is a frightening prospect. How do I justify choosing this path to Barbara, who has invested 24 years of her life in me (our anniversary is today, December 18th) in the hope that I would one day come home and be a full partner and companion to her? How can I justify this to you? Or for that matter, to myself? Choosing this path means being willing to give up all my dreams of being out there with you. It’s a heavy price to pay to fulfill some vague, unmeasurable higher purpose and to create some worldly legacy.

Path C, the middle path, appears to be a dead end and not a viable option. There’s really not a whole lot of leeway here. If we manage to get the hearing reopened this could change, but as things stand now it’s pretty much an all or nothing proposition. If I try to travel a middle path neither objective can be reached and I will likely find myself profoundly miserable and abandoned by everyone.

Like I said earlier, it’s a serious dilemma. I’m at a crossroads, and it’s hard to see the best way to go because I’m so close to it. I intend to approach my decision cautiously. Each of you is invested to some degree in all this, and therefore you each have a voice in the process of my making this decision. Please give me the benefit of your perspectives and insights.

To each of you, all of you, I remain grateful beyond words for your love and support. When the world and my future seem most bleak, it is this, your light, that sustains me.

Yours faithfully,


Monday, December 16, 2013

The Perjury of Mary Brunner

This is an extract from Judge Burton Katz's book Justice Over-ruled, from the chapter Co-conspirators

Mary Brunner

Many times it is very difficult to prove a crime against one or more individuals because of the absence of independent eyewitnesses. Resorting to the use of coconspirator witnesses is sometimes required.

Coconspirators present unique challenges. By definition, conspirators contrive to commit crimes in secrecy. Establishing guilt is especially difficult where the only proof against a defendant consists of the observations by a coconspirator (accomplice) of statements mad.e and actions performed by the other in the planning and preparation stages of the crime. Indeed, statements or conduct, standing alone may be perfectly legal and, when observed by a non-criminal witness, without more information, may be unremarkable and meaningless.
Here is an example: Suppose George Washington conspired to overthrow British colonial rule in America. In secret, he told Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson that they should publish a paper exhorting the colonists to "break the shackles of their servitude" to imperialist England, and to demand autonomy for the colonies. To that end, Jefferson and Hamilton proceed to legally purchase printing supplies consisting of paper and ink. Further, they arrange for the use of a printing press.

Those legal acts, standing alone, prove nothing without evidence of the unlawful purpose. Thus the testimony of Jefferson or Hamilton would be required to establish the fact of a conspiracy implicating washington. Then those acts committed in furtherance of the conspiracy, such as the purchase of the ink and paper, even if legal when standing alone, cab be used against all members of the conspiracy as evidence of the crime.
There is a catch, however. The law, in its wisdom, requires that the accomplice's testimony be corroborated because of the inherent "untrustworthiness" of its source! Because an accomplice has an obvious motive to fabricate, the jury is instructed to view an accomplice's testimony with caution.

Problems are compounded when the accomplice is relucant to testify and has an abiding allegiance to the defendant coconspirator. Such was the case with Mary Brunner, one of the most troubling witnesses I ever had. Mary was well on her way to earning a master's degree at the University Wisconsin,engaged to a "professional student", when she decided that being a faculty wife and giving tea parties was not what she wanted out of life. So she quit and moved to California, acquiring a job as a librarian at the prestigious University of California, Berkerey. She met and fell in love with Charles Manson, a charismatic iconoclast, spiritually light-years from her comfortable world of academia and books. She came from a stable and supportive family, though her parents were distant, displaying little outward affection. Mary was to become the first of the Manson family women, moving into an old, ratty school bus with Charlie in 1967. Manson sired her son,"Pooh Bear" legally named Michael Manson. She was attracted to what Manson seemingly had to offer: freedom to be a child, to be oneself, to love, to experience the warmth, sense of belonging, and adventure of communal living. This seductive lifestyle was later to transmigrate into "Charlie's death trip" culminating in her willing participation in the murder of Gary Hinman.

In return for an immunity agreement fashioned over several months of difficult negotiations with Mary and her attorney, veteran civil rights lawyer Hugh Manis, she reluctantly agreed to testify. The immunity was conditioned on Mary testifying truthfully in all of the Manson family cases involving the murder of musician Gary Hinman, including any Hinman murder testimony to be presented in the penalty phase of the Tate-LaBianca murder trial. In addition to Bobby Beausoleil, who was already charged, we were in the process of seeking murder indictments against Charles Manson, Bruce Davis, and Susan Atkins for the Hinman murder.

Mary, in fact, testified truthfully before the grand jury and in the guilt phase of the Bobby Beausoleil trial. Beausoleil, nicknamed "Cupid," was drop-dead handsome, and the alleged procurer for Manson, bringing new female blood to the family's quarters at Spahn Ranch. After the jury returned a verdict of first-degree murder, a death verdict was imposed by the same jury in the penalty phase. This so shook up Brunner, who felt enormous guilt over Beausoleil's plight and her perceived betrayal of Manson and the family, that she seriously contemplated suicide.

Following her guilt-phase testimony, Mary had returned to her mother's home in Wisconsin. Between the time of the rendering of the death verdict and the formal sentencing hearing, Squeaky Fromme, Sandy Good, and Brenda McCann paid Mary a goodwill visit. Shortly thereafter, we heard she was going to recant her testimony, alleging that sheriffs Charlie Guenther and Paul Whitely and the DA (me) forced her to testify against her will, falsely. The integrity of the jury's verdict rested on our discrediting her allegations. Our dilemma was not to undermine her credibility so much that her testimony before the grand jury and the Beausoleil jury was rendered useless. At times that seemed to be impossible.

When we originally struck a deal with Brunner, we were unaware of the true extent of her involvement in the Hinman killing. We had been led to believe that she was passivelv present while Bobby Beausoleil and Susan Atkins (a.k.a. Sadie Glutz) did Manson's bidding. After she agreed to cooperate, with the encouragement and support of her biological family, we were to learn disturbing additional facts. By then it was too late to withdraw our offer of immunity. I was heartsick that we had to give Brunner immunity knowing the things she had done.

Now we were at the Beausoleil sentencing hearing, where a motion for new trial was being sought. Beausoleil, having dismissed his public defender and acting as his own counsel, recalled Mary Brunner. He conducted a very credible and competent examination of Brunner. And here was Brunner, trying to wiggle out of her commitment. Before she testified for Beausoleil, I reminded her that the immunity agreement was off if she she stuck to her recantation story. Secretly, I was glad she was recanting her testimony; we would now be free to bring charges for her remorseless participation in a torture-murder in which Gary Hinman was told he should get ready to die. A murder in which he was given his religious beads so that he could chant to his God, after being stabbed in the chest. A murder in which he was told by Beausoleil "that he was a pig and that society did not need him…this was the best way for him to go…" Beausoleil had told Hinman that he was just doing him a favour! A day earlier, Manson himself had slashed Hinman's face with a sword, viciously cutting his left ear in half, before leaving his victim in the deathwatch, of Sadie, Mary, and Bobby, to suffer another day. of indignity and abuse before Manson ordered Beausoleil to kill him.No, I wanted all deals to be off. To this day, I still think of Hinman, a gentle soul, being tortured, debased, and snuffed; his blood used to write the words "Political Piggy" on the wail above his body. Tears still come to my eyes. I wanted to charge her with murder.

Brunner was obviously torn between her loyalty to Manson and Beausoleil and her own well-being. It was incredible to think that after being handed her life back she was going to throw it all away-including her son, whose custody she was desperately trying to regain. Her son, fathered by Charles Manson! Judge William B Keene presided over the Beausoleil case.  Keene was an imposing judge who commanded respect. He was later to become the TV judge in Divorce Court and, other TV judge-oriented shows, aided by his telegenic appearance and very droll wit. Keene began the hearing with a stern admonition to Brunner:

Keene: It's previously been established . . . in consideration of your testifying . . . in front of the grand jury and in front of the jury in the case of Mr. Beausoleil, both of which you have done, and in any future criminal trial that may arise out of the death of Gary Hinman, that you personally were to be granted immunity. . . . you have fulfilled only a portion of that agreement with the office of the district attorney. Now, in the event that you testify here in this case, it is my belief that you will be arrested upon leaving this courtroom and charged with the crime of murder in connection with the death of Gary Hinman. . . . In the event that does occur and you testify here today, anything that you say here . . . can and undoubtedly will be used against you in any trial in which you are charged with the crime of murder. Do you understand what I've told you?

Brunner: Yes, sir.

Keene: Do you understand. the serious ramifications to you personally by your giving any testimony in this court this morning?

Brunner: Yes, sir.

Keene: I might also suggest and point out to you, Miss Brunner, that if you do testify . . . in response to any questions asked you by Mr. Beausoleil, this court will ask you to answer all questions directed to you not only by Mr. Beausoleil but by

Mr. Katz: do you understand that?

Brunner: Yeah, I understand that.

Brunner prepared to lay down her life for Beausoleil as he began his coolly delivered examination.

Beausoleil: Are you also aware of the fact that beyond being charged with murder that you could be charged with perjury?

Brunner: Yeah, that occurred. to me.

Beausoleil: And very probably violation of probation, isn'r that correct?

This was important, because this would affect her ability to get her baby back. Beausoleil began to focus on Paul Whitely and charlie Guenther's first visit to Madison, wisconsin, in December 1969. He probed into the alleged threats and attempts used to induce her to testify against him and Manson. I was impressed with his ability to frame a comprehensible question and ask appropriate follow-up questions. He also interposed objections, and while they fell on deaf ears, they were quite well done. I couldn't help thinking about Beausoleil's natural gifts. He was handsome, articulate, intelligent, a quick study and a gifted poet, artist, and musician who had his own rock group in Berkeley, competing favorably with the emerging but still relatively unknown credence clearwater Revival band. what seed or gene had distorted an otherwise almost perfect genetic blueprint, allowing him to execute another human being, a friend with whom he had lived? He had mortgaged his life on ..Charlie's death trip"! What a waste!

His questions were deceptively simple, demonstrating a skill far beyond many lawyers' reach. Brunner and Beausoleil were rocking to each other's rhythm. yet Beausoleil was given virtually no time alone with Brunner for preparation. His communication was limited to his Manson family visitors, such as Sandy and Squeaky, who were his conduits.

Beausoleil: In reference to how you feel about your child, how do you feel about your child? Let me rephrase the question. You love your child very much, don't you?

Brunner: Yes.

Beausoleil: I would imagine that he probably means more to you than anything else in the world-isn't that correct?

Brunner: Than most anything else.

Beausoleil: Anything means more to you?

Brunner: Yeah.

Beausoleil: Could you tell the court what it is?

Brunner: It means more to me, Bobby, that I undo what I did to you.

Beausoleil: When you say that-to undo what you did, did you not tell the truth at that time?

Brunner: That's right.

He's done it. She has recanted her testimony, and now Judge Keene is saddled with a real problem. There is not a chance in the world that a death verdict in 1970 will stand the scrutiny of the California Supreme Court on that record. Just two years later, that court was to declare California's death penalty law un-constitutional. The ruling was retroactively applied to all on death row, including Sirhan Sirhan, Manson, and serial killer Juan Corona, who slaughtered twenty-six victims. On top of this, the guilty verdict was also in grave jeopardy as Beausoleil returned to the theme of Guenther's alleged undue influence. She told the court of Guenther's approach: "He got very soft-voiced and very earnest and very, you know, look you real deep in the eye . . . type emotion." Evidently, Charlie Guenther had met his match with this young woman, who was indeed very, very hard.

Judge Keene, over the protestations of Beausoleil, now took over the questioning.

Keene: What did he [Guenther] say?

Brunner: He was telling me how wonderful they were being to me, and how everybody out here was ratting on me and bad-mouthing me and how if I felt anything for my son that I owed it to him to give a statement against Bobby.

Keene: Did that end the conversation then, between you and Deputy Guenther?

Brunner: Around this time I got to crying and Whitely came back into the room.

Keene: Now tell us what was said.

Beausoleil: Your Honor, I object to the court questioning the witness. I am completely capable. She is my witness. I'd like to question her now, if I may.

The court refused, but I've always thought that Beausoleil was right. He was addressing issues relevant to this hearing-namely, what were the pressures brought to bear on Brunner. Had such pressures caused her to testify falsely because she feared she would lose her child, be imprisoned and charged with murder? In fact, she was warned repeatedly of the consequence of a capital charge if she failed to cooperate. These are tough questions. While it is not unlawful to spell out to a coconspirator what her options are, and the consequences of failure to cooperate, there is a point where the onerous consequences might influence testimony. Judge Keene had the unhappy task of trying to sort it out, to determine whether these factors over-came free will and caused her to give false testimony. I was not envious of the judge's position. He overruled Beausoleil's objection and pursued the witness, pressing her to repeat what she had told Guenther and Whitely about the Hinman killing. I watched with fascination as Beausoleil fought Keene, toe to toe.for his life.

Keene: All right, tell us what you said, what you told the officers.

Beausoleil: Your Honor, she's given this information already. She told the court that it was the same as what she testified to, or at least basically. There's a forty-page written statement, Your Honor, of a conversation that happened later after she gave her original statement and it has been testified to by Sergeant Whitely that the questions that he asked were based on statements given-

Keene:Just a minute, Mr. Beausoleil. Your objection is overruled. Tell us what you told the officers.

Brunner: I told the officers that Bobby killed Gary. That is the main thing-I told the officers.

Keene: What else did you tell them?

Brunner: I told them that Bobby and Gary had a fight. I told them that Charlie cut Gary with a sword. I told them we had been in that house for a couple of days, Bobby and Sadie and I.

Keene: Was that statement true?

Brunner: Parts of it.

Keene: All right, what parts were true and what parts were not true?

Brunner: Bobby didn't kill Cary.

Now the confrontation is focused. If Bobby didn't, who did? Brunner is backed into a corner. She can't selectively pick and choose which questions she will answer. And the judge goes for the jugular.

Keene: Who killed Gary?

Brunner: I don't have to answer that.

Keene: Yes, you do have to answer that and-

Beausoleil quickly jumps in to save Brunner's testimonial recantation!

Beausoleil: Your Honoq I object-Your Honor-

Keene: -you are ordered to answer that by this court.

Brunner: I'll take the Fifth Amendment on that.

Keene: You may not take the Fifth Amendment. As I indicated to you, you could not pick and choose what questions you were going to answer.

Brunner: I have the right not to incriminate myself.

Bobby and Mary had anticipated everything. Or so they thought. But this judge was not to be intimidated by a claim of self-incrimination-even in a capital case. Contrast this with the Simpson case, where Judge Ito let Mark Furhman take the Fifth after fully testifying before a jury just weeks before.Judge Keene was an exceptionally strong judge who did not look over his shoulder in anticipation of an adverse appellate ruling. The OJ. team would have fared quite differently under Keene's iron fist.

Beausoleil: May I be heard?

Keene: Mr. Beausoleil, you may not. Your objection is overruled.

Beausoleil: You haven't heard my objection, how can it be overruled?

Keene:Just a minute, Mr. Beausoleil. [To Brunner.] I've ordered you to answer that question as to who killed Gary Hinman.

Brunner: I'm telling you that I don't have to incriminate myself, as you advised me.

The courtroom was packed to standing-room capacity, filled with media from all over the world, including the Soviet bloc nations. The tension was so palpable you could skate on it. I wondered how we were playing in the Iron Curtain countries, whose correspondents were feverishly scribbling in their pads, eager to show the "disintegration of a corrupt capitalistic society."

Keene: . . . you tell me in your own words truthfully what occurred in that Hinman house to the best of your knowledge, and I want the truth.

Beausoleil: Judge Keene, you are denying this woman a fair trial according to Miranda v. Arizona, according to the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, the due process clause, according to the rights under the Fifth Amendment, according to her rights to have an attorney present.

Keene: Mr. Beausoleil, your objections, all of them, are overruled.

Beausoleil: All of my objections are overruled, even the ones I'm going to make?

Pretty quick thinking for a non-lawyer, unschooled in trial tactics.

Keene: (to the witness): Go ahead and tell me what happened.

Beausoleil: In other words-

Keene: Mr. Beausoleil, this is the last time I am going to tell you. When I am finished talking to this witness, I will tell you so, and you may ask her some questions. I do not want You to interrupt me.

Bobby stayed a steady course, cool and deliberate. No anger. Just control. It made me wonder how cool he must have been when he ended Hinman's life!

Beausoleil: Your Honor, I have a duty to interrupt you. I have a duty to make my objections.

Judge Keene continues to sidestep Beausoleil. But Brunner won't budge. She tellsJudge Keene she will not answer the question because of self-incrimination.

Keene: You refuse to answer any questions as to what occurred in that house?

Brunner: You've told me-your question was that I tell you everything that went on. That was your question?

Keene: Yes, that's what I want.

Brunner: And if that is your question, I can't answer that because it would be self-incriminating.

Keene: I am instructing you to answer the question.

Brunner: (defiantly): I've answered it.

We had reached an impasse. Judge Keene could proceed no further. The record was a shambles. The court had the option of striking her testimony of recantation because of her refusal to answer all questions on the issue. But, as noted, this was a capital case that must stand the scrutiny of a strongly anti-capital-punishment California Supreme Court-and it was unlikely to pass constitutional muster. Judge Keene found Brunner in contempt of court, and ordered her remanded until she answered the questions. But first he allowed Beausoleil to continue his questioning of Brunner.

Again, Beausoleil's facileness surprised me. Beausoleil was sharp enough to ask her if there was a tape recorder at the sheriffs office when she claimed they told her that if she didn't "bring Charlie into it now that this whole business of immunity would be dropped . . . that her probation would be violated and she would not be able to see her baby when she was charged with murder."

Beausoleil pressed further, asking her whether anyone had turned the tape recorder on. He then got her to say that it wasn't in any written statement she had seen! Not bad. He also wanted to know if anyone had turned the tape recorder off for any interval. Shades of Nixon's secretary, Rosemary Woods, and the infamous "eighteen-minute gap" of Watergate fame. I'd say that was damn good lawyering for a twenty-two-year-old man with little formal education.

Judge Keene stopped the proceedings again, telling Brunner that she had filed an affidavit stating that her testimony before the grand jury and before the Beausoleil jury was false. He now wanted her entire statement. She refused, and was remanded to the custody of the sheriff over the lunch hour. Over her initial objection, attorney Ernest Graves was appointed by the court to represent her, owing to Manis's unavailability. Beausoleil was permitted to have a short meeting with Graves and Brunner.

In the afternoon session, she appeared with Graves. This time Brunner appeared tired and confused. Graves asked for a clarification of Brunner's status, if she were to testify fully and truthfully at this hearing. The immunity agreement was reiterated, with emphasis that she was obligated, as jointly agreed, to testify in future proceedings against Charlie Manson and other family members. Judge Keene, sensing a change, immediately withdrew the contempt charge, making it clear that he would not use this to compel her testimony, and emphasizing that what she was about to do must be totally free and voluntary. Brunner wanted to know if she was free to go back to Wisconsin, "if I testify for the prosecution." We were at a critical point, and Beausoleil looked pale and scared as he sensed what was coming.

Brunner: If I testify, today, then I can just walk out of the courtroom and go back to Wisconsin?

The court told her she could, as long as she remained available for the other trials.

Brunner: Is that the DA's contention, too?

She was told it was. Present in the packed courtroom were Squeaky, Sandy, Catherine Share, and Kitry Lutesinger (Bobby's girlfriend), among others. Brunner was obviously highly stressed. She appeared to be communicating nonverbally with Squeaky and the others. We were all standing on earthen clods, crumbling into a sinkhole of unknown depth. Would Mary turn on Bobby in front of the girls, in front of her "sisters"? Unknown to me at that time was the enormously powerful pull of the family women-these women were the eyes, ears, and legs of Charlie. They also carried buck knives openly displayed on their hips while they camped out at the corner of the Hall of Justice, proudly exhibiting the X's carved on their foreheads, just like Charlie Manson, Sadie, Leslie, and Katie. A1l, X'd out of society. And those knives were virtually identical to the ones used in the Tate-LaBianca massacres. Sandy, Squeaky, Brenda, and Gypsy were fond of rubbing their hands up and down the handles of the knives as I passed them each day on my way to court. Graves, sensing he was losing Mary, asked for some time to confer with her. I began to wonder: What's this justice system all about? Does the foreign press have contempt for all of this nonsense, for our way of justice? I was lost in thought when Graves's voice suddenly startled me.

Graves: Your Honor, I believe the witness is again prepared to meet the question whether she is prepared to testify, in this case.

Keene: What's your decision, now, Miss Brunner?

Brunner: I'll testify.

Keene: . . . Do I have your assurance that anything that you are going to testify to at this time is going to be the truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Brunner: Yes.

Keene: In its entirety, without question-is that correct?

Brunner: That's right.

Mary told the court why she filed the false affidavit.

Brunner: Bobby got the gas chamber, and that to me, is the same-you're doing the same thing to him as he did to Gary, and you made me a part of the second one, too. . . . So I filed it hoping that Bobby could get a retrial and not get the death penalty.

The court again asked who had stabbed Gary, and who had sliced Gary's face with the sword, to which she replied it was Bobby and Charlie. Keene turned over the examination to me. I wanted to nail down her testimony against Charlie, Bruce Davis, and Susan Atkins, to give her less wiggle room when she was called to testify at their trials. She confirmed her earlier testimony. I had her confirm that she andSusan put the pillow over the dying Gary's face to silence his death rattle. I also wanted to pin her down on her alleged reason for filing the false affidavit.

Katz: You contrived the fact that you would execute a false affidavit to secure a new trial for Mr. Beausoleil in the hopes that he would nor receive the death penalty; is that correct, as you told Judge Keene.

Her pithy "Yeah" locked her in, or so I thought. I then directed a series of short questions on key points to forever lay to rest the accuracy of her testimony: Did she have any doubt that Beausoleil stabbed Hinman? any doubt that she and Susan Atkins put a pillow over Gary's head? any doubt that she drove to Hinman's house with Susan Atkins and Bobby Beausoleil? any doubt that Charlie Manson and Bruce Davis arrived together at Hinman's house? any doubt that Manson struck Hinman with a sword, severing his left ear? Finally she admitted that the affidavit she had filed was false.

A disheartened Beausoleil gamely tried to come back, but Mary wouldn't look at him. "Mary, look at me, please. . . ." He suggested that she was testifying this way because of the same fear she had felt before, with Guenther and Whitely, that she would be charged with a capital murder and would lose her baby. Bobby decided to go for it.

Beausoleil: Okay, I'll ask one question and hope that I do get the truth. You testified in my trial previously in April that you saw me sanding over Gary,s body, but you didn't actually see me stab Gary, but you saw me standing over Gary's body with the knife. Was that statement correct or incorrect?

Brunner: That I saw you standing over - it's like one of those questions, Bobby, that the DA feeds me, you know, and it comes out, well, could it have happened this way, you know, but I can'r say that it did happen that way. Right now what happened at Gary's house, you know-like well did I actually see you standing over him? I can't recall right now. I can't picture it right now.

Mary was at the point of emotional collapse, and Bobby took a final shot at her.

Beausoleil: would you lie to save your child? would you please tell me the truth?

Brunner: It's a hard question to answer.

Beausoleil: That isn't an answer.

Brunner: What did you say?

Beausoleil: That isn't an answer.

Brunner: You're right, it isn't an answer.

Beausoleil: Would you give me the answer to the question? Mary, look at me. Would you give me the answer to the question and give me the truth. you know the truth, and you know that I know the truth.

Brunner: Bobby, you know I,d do anything.

Beausoleil: Anything for the child?

Brunner: Uh-huh.

Beausoleil: Including lying for him-isn't that correct? Is your answer yes?

Brunner: Yes.

Bobby, having nothing to lose, takes another stab at it:

Beausoleil: I want the truth. Did I kill Gary Hinman? And please look at me when you answer me.

We all waited for the answer. Then Mary's lawyer made an objection. The court jumped in, over Beausoleil's protest. Beausoleil was forced to surrender his witness to the court for the last time. The stakes were too high.

Keene: Did he stab Mr. Hinman?

Brunner: Yeah.

For now it was over. But not for Mary Brunner-she was to perjure herself in the penalty phase of the trial of Charles Manson for the Tate and LaBianca killings, and once again in the Hinman prosecutions. And she was to be charged with the murder of Gary Hinman and with perjury, just as Guenther and Whitely and I had promised. Howard Weitzman and James Patterson now represented Brunner. They filed a motion to dismiss the charges, contending that Brunner had fulfilled her obligations under the immunity agreement. To my amazement, the court agreed. We appealed, and the appellate court upheld the trial judge's ruling, likening the conditional offer of immunity to a simple contract in which the people had substantially received what they had bargained for. The appellate court was to note that, even with her false recantation, she had unwittingly helped the prosecution by setting the groundwork for the use of her grand-jury and Beausoleil trial testimony in the subsequent trials. Legal sophistry notwithstanding, we could not prosecute Brunner. To this day I still don't understand why the DA is not free to enter into a voluntary agreement with a witness, who is represented by counsel, and offer immunity conditioned on her truthful testimony in multiple proceedings, regardless of where it may fall. In such a situation there is no more danger of inducing an untruthful story than there is when someone is offered immunity for her testimony in a single proceeding. But who am I to say?