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1971: Manson sent to gas chamber

AUDIO : An interview with Charles Manson

Charles Manson and three members of his hippy cult have been sentenced to death in Los Angeles.

They were found guilty of the August 1969 murders of seven people and one unborn child at the beginning of the year.

Their victims included eight-months pregnant actress Sharon Tate - wife of film director Roman Polanski.


"You're not nearly as good as me"

Charles Manson

None of the defendants heard their verdicts as they were ejected from the courtroom for disrupting proceedings - as they had done several times during the nine month trial.

Manson, 36, was led out after telling the judge and jury: "you don't have any authority over me. You're not nearly as good as me."

His accomplices - Susan Atkins, 22, Patricia Krenwinkel, 23 and Leslie Van Houten, 21 - were dragged screaming from court.

Ms Atkins shouted: "It's gonna come down hard. Lock your doors. Protect your kids."

The prosecution - led by Vincent Bugliosi - depicted Manson as a satanic monster who controlled the women whom he described as "mindless robots".

Jury member Marie Mesmer said: "He was the leader, the worst...I think he's a dangerous influence on society, highly dangerous."

The women - who, like Manson, had shaved their heads - admitted carrying out the killings under the influence of the hallucinogenic drug LSD but denied Manson's involvement.

It took the jury 10 hours to give their verdict in a case that has cost the state of California over 400,000 (over $1m).

As well as the Tate murder Atkins, Krenwinkel and Manson were condemned for killing Polish writer Voyteck Frykowski, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Hollywood hairdresser Jay Sebring and a friend of Sharon Tate's caretaker, Steven Parent.

Ms Van Houten was sentenced for murdering supermarket owner Leno la Blanca and his wife.

Judge Charles Older said he would pass formal sentence on 16 April, when he may reduce the punishments to life imprisonment, but it is considered unlikely he will do so.

Manson is expected to be confined to the notorious 'death row' in San Quentin to wait for the final outcome of his - automatic - appeal.

In Context
Judge Older confirmed the death penalty in his judgement on 19 April 1971.

It had been one of the longest-running murder trials in US history, with a jury sequestered for longer than ever before - 225 days.

The California Supreme Court abolished the death penalty in 1972 and the four were given life sentences.

Manson and four other (male) accomplices were subsequently convicted for the murders of Gary Hinman and Donald (Shorty) Shea.

Charles Manson has endured as a cult figure for various extremist groups and has been the subject of various films and documentaries.

In April 2002 Manson was refused parole for the 10th time and Van Houten had her fourteenth request turned down in June of that year. Atkins and Krenwinkel have also had numerous parole applications refused.


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