Monday, August 14, 2017

Deconstructing Pete Porteous

As everybody gears up over the next couple of years for the Big Fifty it will quickly become evident how much attention this case still attracts after almost half a century. Right now there are probably at least a half dozen projects in the works designed to capitalize on the Golden Anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders. Whether it’s books, television, movies, or independent documentaries it is obvious that a market still exists for the TLB Brand and that people are still happy to spend their attention and money on it. But unfortunately there are also people who want to cash in on all of that attention and money. And so in a situation like this you not only have people who want to pay attention but you also have people who want to get it. Therefore, keep an eye out in the coming months for never-before-heard-of childhood friends, old school chums, long-forgotten roommates, distant family members, former neighbors, brief, one-time acquaintances, and any and all manner of other such alleged ancillary characters to the case who want to get a slice of the Death to Piggies Pie. The big problem, though, is that many of these purported peripherals to the case will be imposters. And a prime example of such a mistaken individual is Pete Porteous, the Hollywood stuntman who claims that as a ten-year-old boy he was mentored into the stuntman profession by Donald Jerome “Shorty” Shea at Spahn’s Movie Ranch during the summer of 1969. Porteous’s recollections are particularly remarkable because among them are his memories of being present at the ranch when Charles Manson was beaten up on several occasions by stuntman associates of Shea.

Pete Porteous

Below is a slightly abbreviated version of Porteous’ story as it appeared here on the MF Blog in January of 2015 (You can read the entire article here.):

I Learned to be a Stuntman from Shorty Shea

[Introduction Clipped]

“I would ride to Spahn Ranch on my mini-bike between the ages of 9 or 10 without my mother's knowledge. I was a bit of a black sheep to begin with, but after my dad bought me that mini-bike I was outta control. We lived on the corner of Elizondo Ave. and Currant Ave in Simi Valley.  A flood control wash was right across the street that runs right through the center of Simi. I rode that about 10 miles or so on the hard-packed parts. Then I rode a small service road along the railroad tracks for a few miles to Santa Susana Pass Rd.

“I was fascinated with stuntmen and I wanted to be one even at that early age. I knew Charlie (Manson) by sight and name, but I thought he was a stuntman. I figured everyone at the ranches were stuntmen. I already knew a couple of them from a neighboring ranch called Corriganville Movie Ranch - specifically Jimmy Babcock, Monte Laird and Joe Soto. Those guys would also frequently be at Spahn to do stunts for the various B movies that were filmed there.


“It was actually Charlie who introduced me to Shorty. I asked Charlie how to become a stuntman and he said, "First you have to be one" (He always talked in riddles). He also said, "You'll want to talk to Shorty". So that's when my career as a stuntman first began. My time with him lasted four or five months.

“Shorty was a great guy. He taught me everything like how to take a saddle fall, how to throw a punch and how to take a punch. Most of my friends played sports, but I hung around Shorty. He took the time to show me things. He took a liking to me and an interest in teaching me. He also didn't treat me like a kid. He treated me like an equal. In exchange, I worked for him. I did things like clean horse stalls and other things. For instance, sometimes a ranch customer would be out for a ride and get off the horse to urinate and the horse would run away. So, part of the job was to go find that horse. I really liked it, even cleaning the stalls. If I got there early enough I got to help feed the horses. I loved things like that. My dad was a city boy and didn't like horses but I loved it. I liked cleaning and being a cowboy.

“Charlie was always nice to me. He sometimes would ask to ride my mini-bike. I'd let him and he'd tear around on it and seemed to have fun like a little kid. But, Shorty didn't like Charlie and didn't want me near him. He said, "If you play with a bucket of shit long enough, you're gonna get some on ya". I know that people have the idea that Charlie was in charge of the ranch, but he wasn't. The wranglers thought he was a clown. They laughed at him - never took him seriously. Monte Laird slapped the shit out of Manson twice that I know about. I got there shortly after the first one. I witnessed the second, and Laird sure bloodied him up. I also saw Joe Soto throttle Manson good one day. You gotta remember, these guys were a different breed. If you pissed them off they didn't wonder "hey will this guy call the cops?" No, they'd rough you up and just laugh. Those guys were tougher than any bikers. I know that there are folks out there who see Manson as some mysterious guru, but he was a joke to those guys. I wound up having a long relationship with Joe Soto. From the time I met him as a kid at Corriganville Ranch until he passed away in 2009 at age 80.

“The only other Manson Family person that I had any real exposure to was Tex. The thing I remember best was that he'd take us for ice cream. He had a pickup truck and we'd all (mostly kids and teenage girls) pile in the bed (since it wasn't illegal back then). Tex would spin the truck out leaving the ranch and we'd all slide around and bang into the sides and laugh. He was almost like a kid when we'd go on those ice cream rides. He was always nice to me.

“I remember some of the girls, but I don't remember any of their names because I mostly hung around with the wranglers. I do though remember that sometimes they made brownies and would give me some. I also remember that they liked to take gum wrappers and fold them up to connect to each other and make chains. They had some really long ones going!

“One day I got up early and went to Spahn Ranch because I wanted to help feed the horses. When I got there Shorty wasn't around and the horses had not been fed, so I did it. When I finished I saw Charlie talking to Tex and another guy. I asked about Shorty and Charlie said, "He went away on a trip." When I asked when he'd be back he said he probably wouldn't be back. I was very hurt. Shorty was my teacher and more importantly, my friend. He was also the first adult friend I ever had. It was the first time in my life that my heart was broken.

“I first heard about Shorty's demise at home. My mom watched the news every evening because the Vietnam war was on and we had relatives over there. This one night the ranch was on the news. Miss Pearl (Ruby Pearl) was being interviewed. She said she was worried about Shorty and feared something very very bad had happened…”

Pete Porteous (right) with Eric Estrada (left) at a reunion for the CHiPs television program in Las Vegas, Nevada

Porteous’s story might sound reasonable enough on its face, but once you start to think about it for more than a few minutes it starts to fall apart quickly and completely. The important thing to consider here are the various demonstrable timelines for the persons who were involved with the alleged events that Porteous describes. To begin with, Porteous says that his time as Shorty Shea’s shadow lasted “four or five months.”  Since Shea’s own time ended at the end of August, 1969, four or five months earlier than that (five, to use the outside time estimate) would take us back to the beginning of April, 1969. April through August 1969 — that is the timeline into which Porteous has locked the duration of his alleged association with Donald Shea at Spahn’s Ranch.

Because Donald Shea disappeared on a fairly certain date and was presumed murdered, law enforcement officials put considerable effort into determining his actions in the weeks and months leading up to the date of that disappearance. The results of that effort were testified to by friends of Shea’s at the various trials of the persons eventually convicted of his murder, Charles Manson, Bruce Davis, and Steve Grogan. That testimony reveals an interesting fact, namely that for the vast majority of the time frame given by Pete Porteous as the period he associated with Donald Shea, Donald Shea was no nowhere near Spahn’s Ranch.

Perhaps a little background on Spahn’s Ranch and the situation there in the summer of 1969 would be helpful here. By August of 1969 the nominal “Movie Ranch” already had its best days behind it. Western movies and television shows were losing favor with the public and the demand for western sets for entertainment purposes was no longer great. (Nearby Corriganville, a much larger and more successful movie ranch than Spahn’s, closed its doors in 1965.) In 1969 Spahn’s Ranch mainly supported itself by renting out animals to outside events needing them (circuses and parades, for example) and by renting horses to riders who wanted to explore the rocky hills around the ranch in the Santa Susana Pass area. Spahn’s Ranch was not a bustling money-maker, but was rather a business that was barely getting by. This reality was evidenced by the fact that the wranglers who worked there were not paid any wages for their labors. Instead they got a place to sleep, meals to eat, and occasional cash allowances to buy such necessities as work clothes, gloves, and cigarettes. Spahn’s Ranch was not a place where anybody was likely to make a lot of money in show business, and thus there were no actual “stuntmen” hanging out there unless they had a real, paying job to perform, which, in the summer of 1969, none of them did. Most of the people who did work at the ranch could be classed as “down and outers,” people with nowhere else to go who were happy to exchange a day’s labor for a day’s place to stay. In August of 1969 Donald Shea was just such a person. He had no job, his wife had left him, and he was living in his car.

But what was Donald Shea doing before that? By examining the testimony of witnesses at the several murder trials held in connection with Shea’s disappearance we can construct a fairly complete timeline of where Donald Shea was before his arrival at Spahn’s Ranch in the middle of August, 1969.

We know from trial testimony from various prosecution witnesses that in the summer of 1968 Shea spent some time working at a salt manufacturing facility in the Vallejo, California area before returning to Los Angeles in the latter part of the year and taking up residence at Jerry Binder’s house at 8010 Hollywood Boulevard. Jerry Binder was a longtime friend and frequent employer of Donald Shea. He often let Shea live in his residences and loaned him money on many occasions when Shea had the need.

While staying at Binder’s Hollywood house Shea helped Binder with his mail order business selling adult literature and novelties from out of the house. Business was good, so Binder set up several shops where such merchandise could be purchased in person. Shea helped Binder with the setup of one such store in Las Vegas and then began working at Binder’s L.A. enterprise, the Hollywood Shopper book store.

Jerry Binder’s house on Hollywood Boulevard where Donald Shea lived in the spring of 1969

At some point in “the beginning of ’69,” according to Jerry Binder, Donald Shea was back in Las Vegas assisting with the physical work (setting up shelves, hanging signs, doing fixit work, etc.) involved with launching several of Binder's adult-oriented retail enterprises (the Swingers Boutique, the House of Paperbacks, and Book City) in the city. Shea worked at several of Binder’s retail outlets, waiting on customer and doing other odd jobs around the premises. At one of Binder’s establishments Shea was entrusted with keys to the business and acted as a sort of assistant manager. By April he was back in L.A. and hired by another friend of Binder’s, a Mr. Bromberg, to work at one of Bromberg’s drinking establishments. This time sequence is established in the testimony at the Grogan trial for Donald Shea’s murder when defense attorney Charles Weedman asked Binder when Shea started working in Bromberg’s beer bar:

“Do you recall when Mr. Shea was hired by Mr. Bromberg for the first time to work at one of his beer bars?”

“I can’t recall the exact date, no,” Binder replied.

“If I told you that it was around May of 1969 would that be…. substantially correct in your judgment?“

“No, I don’t think it was that late. It was earlier than that.”

So, starting earlier than May 1969 Shea was working in one of Mr. Bromberg’s beer joints in Los Angeles and was not at Spahn’s Movie Ranch working as a cowboy or stuntman.

Jerry Binder testified that Shea started working at Binder’s Swingers Boutique adult entertainment store in Las Vegas from the end of May and for “a little over a month.” If Binder’s testimony is to be believed (and he was a prosecution witness) that means that Shea was not in Los Angeles (much less at Spahn’s Ranch) for almost all of June of 1969.

Shea must have been in Los Angeles at some point in June of 1969, though, because Spahn’s Ranch forewoman Ruby Pearl recalled seeing him not at the ranch but at her house on DeSoto Street in Chatsworth where he picked up some photographic negatives featuring him at various jobs that he wanted to have printed up as part of his job-seeking resume. Regardless of that brief encounter, however, Pearl must not have seen Shea at Spahn’s Ranch in June because if she had she would have so testified later.

Ruby Pearl

On July 1, 1969, while still in Las Vegas, Shea married Magdalene Velma “Nikki” Fuery, a black topless dancer he had met earlier in Carson, California. The couple immediately encountered problems in Vegas, mostly to do with the fact that not too many people were willing to rent housing to a biracial couple. Thus Shea’s wife then left for L.A., according to Jerry Binder, “after a couple or two [sic] weeks.” Shea followed her, Binder continued, on “approximately the 25th [of July] — no wait. It had to be around the 30th.” Again, if Binder’s testimony is believed, that means that Shea was not in Los Angeles (much less at Spahn’s Ranch) for all of July of 1969.

Shea’s precise whereabouts in the first weeks of August are not known, but we can determine from Ruby Pearl testimonies that although Shea had been an on again/off again habituĂ© of Spahn’s Ranch for about fifteen years in the summer of 1969 she did not see him there until after the raid of August 16. From that time on Shea began living at the ranch in his car and she said she saw him on a daily basis. So, Shea apparently was not at Spahn’s Ranch during the first half of August.

All of this testimony presents a pretty convincing argument that Donald Shea was only sporadically in Los Angeles from late 1968 until mid-August of 1969 and that when Shea was in L.A. he was not at Spahn’s Ranch.

But still another indication that Shea was not in Los Angeles for the greater part of 1969 came in the testimony of Arch Hall, another Los Angeles-area friend of Shea’s who had loaned Shea money to buy a pair of matched western revolvers. Hall loaned Shea the money in August of 1968. Then, he didn’t hear from Shea again for a long time, which was unusual because when Shea was in Los Angeles he usually checked in with him at least every few weeks about employment opportunities.  At the Shea murder trial of Bruce Davis, L.A. Deputy District Attorney Stephen Kay asked Hall, “Now between the time that he purchased the guns from you in August of ’68 until the time he called in late July or early August ’69, had you heard from him?”

“No, I had not…. He said the he was very sorry that he hadn’t gotten back to take care of the payment [for the loan for the two guns]; and that he had been out of the [state] — I think he said he had been married in the meantime, and that he would come by in a few days and settle up and pick up the cameras and pay me the balance on the guns…. I gave [the time of the call] considerable thought before, and I think it was around the middle of August.”

Hall never heard from Shea again.

Now we have a fairly complete and convincing timeline showing that Donald Shea was not at Spahn’s Movie Ranch at the time Pete Porteous claims to have been with him there, from April to August of 1969. Shea’s whereabouts elsewhere are partially documented for the latter part of 1968 up until May of ’69, and are well documented for June, July, and August of '69. (And it could be added here that if Porteous was at Spahn’s Ranch for any amount of time in April or May of 1969 he must have been skipping a considerable amount of his school classes. That’s not an impossibility, of course, but the reader might want to consider the likelihood that a ten-year-old boy would be truant from school for two months in 1969.)

Not only was Donald Shea not at Spahn’s Ranch when Porteous says he knew him there, but the other people described by Porteous as being present were also very likely not there. Monty Laird worked at nearby Corriganville, but there is no record of him working at Spahn’s Ranch in the summer of 1969. Joe Soto is another stuntman claimed by Porteous to have been at Spahn’s. But in 1969 Joe Soto was forty years old and had, according to his obituary, begun a 25-year stint working as a heavy equipment operator four years earlier, in 1965. (Perhaps not coincidentally, Corriganville closed in 1965.) Is it believable that Soto would take a several-months-long break from his burgeoning career operating heavy machinery in the spring and summer of 1969 so he could hang around Spahn’s Ranch hoping to pick up work as a stuntman? (In her trial testimony during the Shea multi-murder trials Spahn’s Ranch forewoman Ruby Pearl said that the only people working as ranch hands in the summer of 1969 were Randy Starr, Larry Craven, Bennie Dietrich, and, later, John Schwarz and Juan Flynn -- not Monte Laird, Joe Soto, or even Donald Shea.)

Another factor which casts doubt on Porteous’ recollections of his life at Spahn’s Ranch are those very recollections, especially the memories of the bad blood and numerous violent encounters between Shea and his stuntman friends and Charles Manson, two of which encounters Porteous claims to have actually witnessed.

Ruby Pearl worked for George Spahn for almost twenty years. In the summer of 1969 she worked at the ranch every day, seven days a week, from mid-morning to late in the evening. She oversaw the operation of just about every aspect of the ranch. If there had been enough disharmony to result in multiple violent encounters she certainly would have known about it. But she never had any such recollection. In fact, aside from a few incidents when “Family” vehicles got too close to horseback riders on one of the riding trails, she recalled no trouble at all  between Manson and his friends and the other people at the ranch.

“We liked ‘em all,” Pearl later testified about Manson and the people with him. “George liked them, and I liked them.”

“You liked Mr. Manson?” asked Manson defense attorney Irving Kanarek.

“We never had an argument. Never had an argument.”

“You never had any argument with Mr. Manson at all?”




“And you never saw Mr. Manson have any argument with anyone else?”




It is pretty clear from that testimony that Spahn’s Ranch was a relatively harmonious place in the spring and early summer of 1969 and not a place where ranch denizens were regularly getting into violent confrontations with visiting stuntmen. (If it had been, the ever-present and all-seeing Ruby Pearl would have been well aware of such incidents. Not to mention all of the other persons who were unquestionably present at the ranch who also don’t recall such violent episodes. And also not to mention that such a violent undercurrent between Manson and Shea would surely have been known to the prosecution during the Shea murder trials and they just as surely would have introduced evidence of such an undercurrent to support their theory that “The Family” had something to do with Shea’s disappearance.)

There are still other thoughts that I’ve had about Pete Porteous’ claims that I have expressed here. I would encourage interested parties to read those thoughts and add them to the information that has been presented here. Because when you read those thoughts and consider what I’ve shown here I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s very reasonable to conclude that neither Donald Shea nor any of his supposed cowboy compadres were at Spahn’s Ranch when Pete Porteous claims they were there. And thus we also can state with near certainty that Porteous’ claims of ongoing hostility and violence between Manson and Porteous’ stuntman pals are also without foundation.

So, in the final analysis you can take Pete Porteous’ reminiscences about his life at Spahn’s Ranch and file them along with the fake mug shots, phony personalities, and outlandish new lies (e.g., Jeff Guinn’s recent uncontested Dateline assertion that Charles Manson went to the Polanski residence after the murders there and draped an American flag over the back of the couch) as an insult to anyone who considers themselves to be a serious student of this case. Because I don’t think it’s likely that Pete Porteous ever met or knew Donald Shea. He probably met or knew Monty Laird and Joe Soto. He might even have been to Spahn’s Ranch at some time in his childhood. But otherwise, Pete Porteous is a fantasist, a fabulist, and a fraud. He is like countless other individuals who have dishonestly latched onto the Tata-LaBianca murder case in order to attract attention to themselves.

I’ve been asked, “If he’s making it up, why?” I’m not inside Pete Porteous’ mind, so I can’t definitively answer that question. But perhaps getting attention is enough of a motive. Perhaps, like his supposed mentor, he is a dreamer seeking stardom. And perhaps the only way he can get some sort of stardom is to claim that he was buddies with tough guys who beat up Charles Manson. But whatever the motivation, it doesn’t justify what he is doing. For by fabricating a relationship with Donald Shea Porteous actually dishonors the hapless, would-be stuntman he so ardently claims to admire. And in doing so he cheapens Shea’s life by using Shea and his unfortunate demise as props in the furtherance of his own publicity-seeking agenda.

Pete Porteous and Matt at Spahn’s Movie Ranch on the MF Blog 2015 Tour. (And yes, that’s Stoner and St. Circumstance hitting a pipe in the background.)

Pete Porteous’ bio on IMBd

Pete Porteous accidentally gets shot while preforming in a mock gunfight

Pete Porteous fantasizing  about his time with Donald Shea at Spahn’s Ranch on You Tube

The Indiegogo fundraising page for one of Pete Porteous’ recent film projects

Monday, August 7, 2017

Get Shorty: The Tragic Tale of Don Shea

Donald Jerome Shea
On August 16, 1969, the police raided Spahn's Movie Ranch after receiving complaints about stolen tools and vehicles being used in a primitive dune buggy chop shop there. Twenty six members of The Family were arrested. Manson was convinced that it was ranch hand Donald "Shorty" Shea that helped the police set up the raid.

The likable part-time ranch hand worked at Spahn Ranch sporadically for up to fifteen years. Whether or not the raid was his doing, this was the event that likely sealed Shea’s death warrant.

Some time between Aug. 27 and Sept. 1, 1969, Tex Watson, Bruce Davis, Steve Grogan, Bill Vance, Larry Bailey, and Manson somehow got Shea into the back seat of their car.

Grogan hit Shea on the head with a pipe wrench and the fight was on. Watson stabbed Shea repeatedly. Shea fought hard but the group pulled him from the car and dragged him down a hill behind Spahn Ranch, where they overpowered him and stabbed him to death.

It wasn't until December 1977, that Shea's body was found. Steve Grogan was in prison when he drew a map of where Shea's body had been buried and gave it to the authorities. His motivation was to prove that, contrary to rumors, Donald Shea had not been cut into nine pieces and buried. Grogan was later paroled and he remains the only Manson family member convicted of murder that has ever been paroled.

The events described above are well documented. But who was Donald Jerome Shea? What do we REALLY know about him? I recently took a much closer look.

A good source is his friend Jerry Binder. Through Binder's trial testimony we can read a lot into who Shea was and see juxtaposed patterns both positive and troubling in his tragically short life.

Binder employed Shea off and on from 1965 until 1969. First as a helper with animals such as elephants and lions he kept for rental to movie studios and later as a helper in Binder's retail operations. Binder described Shea as a dependable employee that he could count on and trust. He showed up for work and no task was beneath him. Shea was all about "a day's work for a day's pay". He also said that when Shea was away he never went more than three or four weeks without calling.

Binder obviously had a sound trust in Shorty as an animal handler. From Binder's testimony:
Q: What was the nature of Shorty’s job at the time?
A: Taking care of animals and backing me up as the second man. 
There was one case where we did a show on Wild, Wild West at the CBS Studios, and there was a tiger we had to do a bit with that had to lunge at the star of the show, and he got past me and Shorty stopped him before he got to me with a pole. 
You always have to have somebody there you can really depend on. Otherwise, you can really get hurt if you are handling anything as dangerous as that. 
Q: In connection with that function, did you depend on Shorty quite a bit? 
A: With my life.
He consistently lent Shea money, but was always repaid either directly, through sweat equity or both. An example would be the prized pistols that Shorty owned.

They were obtained from Arch Hall via a $100 loan from Binder (only $25 of which went toward the pistols), plus a couple of cameras Binder gave him to help in purchasing the guns and money orders of an unknown amount. However, the money orders bounced. Arch could prove that Shorty never paid in full for the guns and had the documentation to prove it so the guns were returned to him. Arch Hall was the only person who was able to get any of the firearms confiscated at the raids back in his possession. That is how they were able to be put up for sale at that gun auction site mentioned in that post.

Some of the Spahn Ranch raid weapons

Reading the testimony shows that Shea was always borrowing and repaying. He never was able to get himself on solid financial ground.
Q: Now, over the years that you knew Don, that is between 1965 and 1969, had you advanced him on numerous occasions loans? 
A: Oh, all kinds of money. 
Q: Did he ever fail to pay you back? 
A: No. 
Q: Or work it out in employment? 
A: He would work it out, take out so much each week out of his pay or if he worked someplace else he could come and bring me the money before he went away to do another movie job or whatever. 
Q: But on those occasions he always paid you back or worked it out? Is that correct? 
A: Correct.
Shea worked fairly consistently for Jerry Binder from 1965 onward. That is, when Binder had work for him and Shea wasn't drifting. In Binder's testimony:
Q: Between the dates that you first met him in 1965 and 1969, say, using the date just after he was married July 1, 1969, how often would you generally see him? 
A: Generally it was every day unless he was working in and out on a job somewhere, and then he would get in touch with me, at least once a week, to find out what was happening, if we had anything else coming up.
Binder's friend and sometimes business partner Herb Bromberg owned several topless bars. When Binder didn't have work for Shea, Bromberg often employed him:
Q: And did you introduce Mr. Bromberg to Mr. Shea for a specific purpose? 
A: One of the times that I brought him to his office was to see if he could get him a job because I didn't have enough work for him to do. 
Q: And at your behest did Mr. Bromberg hire Mr. Shea? 
A: He had him first as a handyman, then he put him up as the manager in some of the different bars and clubs that he owned.
The topless bar work underscores a common theme in Shea's life. Rather than describe it I'll just let you read, first through Binder's own words in his testimony and second through records of Shea's relationships and marriages. In the following chunk of testimony Binder describes Shorty's duties in Binder's retail and mail order business:

So it appears from the testimony that Shea worked for Binder and Bromberg as a topless bar manager, bouncer and seller of pornography consistently but not necessarily full-time from 1965 to July 1 of 1969. So, during that period when did he have time in 1969 to work at Spahn Ranch?

The answer is... not much. According to George Spahn in the below article from the LA Times in Dec of 1969:
"He worked in pictures, driving teams and handling saddle horses, but he leaned more to beer joints. He was a bouncer."

The shaky employment Shea received from Binder and Bromberg had dried up. Shorty needed full-time work and returned to Spahn in July of 1969 hoping George could come through for him. The problem was the Manson Family's presence at the ranch. According to Danny Decarlo's questioning by LASO (Helter Skelter page 153):
"Shorty was telling old man Spahn that he should put him in charge and he would clean everybody up." He would, in short order, run off Manson and his Family. Shorty, however, made a fatal mistake: he forgot that little Squeaky was not only George's eyes, she was also Charlie's ears.

Donald Shea's Relationships:

May 15, 1959 Shorty married a girl named Phyllis Gaston. She was 19 years old and pregnant, Shorty was 25 years old. Not a big deal, plenty of people have shotgun weddings and Shorty and Phyllis more or less are age appropriate. Daughter Karen was born November 10, 1959.

Now it starts to get a little weird...

According to Shea's Wikipedia page, "There is anecdotal evidence that Donald had a son with a woman named Judith Ellen Lawson named either Ray or Roy who died in infancy in 1960 in Hood County, Texas."

Well folks, there's nothing anecdotal about it. Between the time that Shorty married Phyllis and Karen was born, Shorty went to Texas. It is not clear why. While there he he got 15 year old Judith Ellen Lawson pregnant. Mind you he was 25 years old, not so age appropriate, and likely illegal. Judith and her brother George Jesse Lawson were both born in Los Angeles but apparently went to live in Texas when they were young. Her brother was known to family as Jesse.

The child’s name was Roy William Shea. An official birth certificate is not possible to show you because in Texas you must be family to obtain one. You can get an informational copy in California (for example) which is stamped "informational copy" across the front but Texas does not have that option. But here is his line in the Texas Birth Index:

Little Roy Shea died of a brain hemorrhage at about 3 1/2 months of age. It is possible that the baby was shaken thus injuring his brain though he could have been dropped, too. There is a page for him at Find A Grave (FAG) where a younger half sister tells a little about his death, referring to head injuries so it's doubtful that some kind of illness was involved.

The FAG page doesn't indicate whether or not Shorty ever actually had any contact with the child but does say that Shorty had gone back to LA before Judith knew she was pregnant. However, Shorty went back to LA with Judith's brother Jesse so she certainly could have gotten word to Shorty, through her brother, of her pregnancy.

If you notice on the baby's death certificate it says the baby's father was "Roy". The informant for the information was Kelly Sawyer who the sister mentions on the FAG page as having tried to help Judith with the baby. It's possible that he did not know who the father was and just said Roy assuming that the baby was named after his father. Since there is an official Texas birth record stating the father was Donald Jerome Shea, it’s likely that Sawyer just didn't know. Also, the person, Dorothea Guinn, who wrote up the FAG page for little Roy Shea has a little problem with math even though she stated the dates of birth and death. Here is a baby picture of the child and his death certificate:

Judith is no longer living, you can access her FAG page by clicking on her name on Roy's page. Kelly Sawyer is listed on her page as a previous husband but a record of that marriage isn’t found. He has since passed away.

Judith's brother Jesse is still living. He has quite a criminal background dating back to crimes in LA in the early 60s. We have never seen criminal records go back that far on a background report!

February 21, 1961 Shorty married a pregnant 15 year old Sandra L Adams, he was 27 years old. The marriage record says she was 16 years old but Ancestry tends to treat people's birth dates like race horses, everyone turns a year older on January 1st. Their first child Elizabeth was born Sept. 6, 1961. The record shows her name without the H at the end but Ancestry sometimes truncates a name at 8 letters. (There is no rhyme or reason to Ancestry at times and it makes for difficult searching.)

If you are following the bouncing ball, this is the third teenage girl in this narrative, and the second fifteen year old that Shea knocked up. I'm no legal eagle but I'm pretty sure in 2017 he'd be doing a prison term and labeled a sex offender for this.

Shorty's next marriage was July 1, 1969 to topless dancer Magdalene "Nikki" Fuery. The marriage took place in Las Vegas only weeks after they first met in May of that year.

Magdalene "Nikki" Fuery Shea

Jerry Binder was a marriage witness as was another woman who worked for Binder as stated in his testimony. He didn't remember the woman's name in the testimony though.

The marriage to Nikki was short-lived and disintegrated very quickly. In the article below, Fuery says it was over Shea's inability to get a full-time job. This further reinforces the both the motivation and likelihood that Shea was behind the Spahn Ranch raid. He wanted to rid Spahn of the Manson Family so that he could be employed at his familiar old haunt on a full-time basis in an effort to keep Nikki from leaving him.

Shorty Shea was a man's man who dreamed of a big break in Hollywood that would make him a successful stuntman/character actor. When he was employed as an animal handler or as a ranch hand he was dependable and well-liked by his employers. But, Donald Jerome Shea also seems to have had his demons. In his final years he worked shady jobs in topless bars and adult bookstores, none of which was able to free him from the pattern of borrowing and repaying. His relationships tended to be with topless dancers and girls below the legal age of consent. When those relationships yielded children he wasn't able (or perhaps willing) to provide for them. At the end, in a hurried push for full-time employment to save his new marriage he rubbed a certain Charles Manson the wrong way... after eight bodies had already piled up.

Donald Jerome Shea's life was a complex and tragic tale, indeed.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Update: Dianne Lake Book!

I always hoped little Dianne Lake (Snake) would come out with a book, since she was one of the earliest members of the "The Family" and was pretty much around Manson constantly. He never sent her off on little contingent groups, like he did the others. He also beat her more than any of the others too, which is incredibly disturbing. Dianne's book should be pretty insightful, and I really look forward to reading it. The book will be officially released October 24, 2017, but Amazon is taking pre-orders already at this time. What do our readers think? Will it be just a rehash of stuff we've already known, or will there be new stuff to ponder over? Hmmmm?

Friday, August 4, 2017


Keith Morrison reports on the mind and myth of Charles Manson. The one-hour special features rarely-seen video of Manson and interviews with his former parole officer and a “Manson Family” confidant. Morrison also speaks with key players in the case including: Gregg Jakobson, former music producer; Barbara Hoyt, former Manson family member; Debra Tate, victim Sharon Tate’s sister; Anthony DiMaria, victim Jay Sebring’s nephew; Virginia Graham, key witness for the prosecution; and Manson expert and author Jeff Guinn. Airs Friday, August 4 at 10/9c on NBC.

As ziggyosterberg pointed out:
They did one last year that some of the interviews appear to be from. They had the same quote from the vocal fry woman - "These were broodal cryme scenes" - in last years preview. They also had Jakobson in the preview of last years episode, but I don't remember him being in the actual episode that aired last year. If he was in it, it must have been a very brief appearance. I don't think Roger Smith was in last years show at all.  
I recall that last years show was thought to be a two-parter, and the second part never aired. I don't know if that has anything to do with this. From the preview it looks like some recycled stuff from last year mixed with unused interview footage from last year, and the "rare, in-depth interview" with Roger Smith, which appears to be new. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Look At the Evidence #5: Were They Really That Bad

Other Posts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

It is part of the official narrative that the police investigation was sloppy. Bugliosi notes multiple occasions where, in his opinion, the police made mistakes that affected the investigation and the trial. Some of these criticisms are legitimate but some are not.

Failure to Connect the Two Crime Scenes

The homicide investigators assigned to the Cielo Drive crime scene didn’t communicate well (if at all) with the team assigned to the LaBianca crime scene. And even though both teams reported to a higher authority that authority, we are told by Bugliosi, bungled connecting the two crimes.

“Yet within twenty-four hours the police would decide there was no connection between the two sets of murders.”

Los Feliz Couple Slain;
       sLink to 5-Way Murder Seen

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 74). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

If this is an accurate statement one has to ask how they could possibly reach this conclusion? How could they miss all of the similarities? Especially when one detective was at both crime scenes.

“Lieutenant Madlock phoned Inspector K. J. McCauley and requested that the investigation be assigned to Homicide Division. Inspector McCauley assigned the responsibility for the investigation to Robbery Homicide Division. Lieutenant R. J. Helder, Supervisor of Investigations, Robbery-Homicide Division, was contacted and notified of the above crime and decision as to the responsibility for the investigation. He assigned the case to Sergeants M. J. McGann, and J. Buckles. He also called three additional investigators to assist in a crime scene search and investigation. Sergeants E. Henderson, D. Varney and D. Galindo were assigned this responsibility.

Lieutenant Helder and the assigned investigators responded to the scene, arriving at various times between 1330 and 1430 hours.

 (First Tate Homicide Investigation Progress Report- emphasis added)

The important piece here is “D. Galindo”.

“On August 11, 1969, 0015 hours, Sergeant D. Galindo, 3434, Robbery- Homicide Division, was notified of the double homicide occurring at 3301 Waverly Drive. Sergeant Galindo and Officer T. Taketa,11091, Detective Headquarters Division, immediately responded to the scene, arriving at 0100 hours. Officer R. E. Miller, 11651, Detective Head- quarters Division, subsequently arrived to assist in the investigation.”

(First LaBianca Homicide Investigation Progress Report- emphasis added)

Sergeant Danny Galindo was present at both crime scenes from the outset and, we have to assume from Bugliosi's comment, apparently saw absolutely nothing that would suggest to him that the two crimes were related. But is that an accurate description? 

Despite Bugliosi’s claim, the police had already determined that there might be a
connection between the two crimes.

The image to the right is the page of the LA Times from August 17, 1969 that links everything together. On the right top column is an update on the Tate murders. In the lower right hand column is an update on the LaBianca murders and in the center is the Spahn Ranch raid.

By this point at least connections between the two crimes were noted by the police and the article even refers to the LaBianca murders as ‘copycat’ murders (the obvious source being the police) who noted the similarities to the Tate murders.

[Aside: The coincidence of these three stories being on this page has always struck me as one of the more almost 'mystical' events associated with these crimes. It is almost as if someone (or something) was trying to tell the investigators where to look.]

And, in fact, the police were discussing connections between the crimes contrary to Bugliosi's comment.

“There is a similarity [between the two crimes], but whether it’s the same suspect or a copycat we just don’t know.” Said Police Sgt. Bryce Houchin.” (Progress Bulletin, Monday, August 11, 1969)

“Of the connection between the murders in Bendict Canyon and in Silverlake, Detective Sgt. Danny Galindo said, ‘it is possible that somebody is cashing in on some of the publicity from the earlier case but there are other schools of thought.’” (The San Mateo Times, Monday, August 11, 1969)

Even the article cited by Bugliosi in Helter Skelter refutes his statement.

“Police said it [the writing on the wall] was the same technique used by the Benedict Canyon slayer to smear the word ‘pig’ on the door of Miss Tate’s home- a fact disclosed after the Los Feliz murders were discovered.

The bloody inscription, the hood, and the atrocious nature of the wounds all indicated a connection with the earlier crime, police said.” (LA Times, Monday, August 11, 1969)

Conclusion: Bugliosi is wrong. The police did recognize connections between the two crimes from the outset. My hunch is that the reason they were not even more vocal was to preserve certain aspects of the two crimes in order to reserve things ‘only the murder(s) would know' since so much had been leaked to the press. We know the Beatles connection was identified early on by the LaBianca team but that, for example, was never mentioned to the press and probably led to Bugliosi's investigation of that issue.

Lack of Sub-typing the Blood

Bugliosi called Manuel Joseph Granado of SID to task for not subtyping many of the blood samples.

“Granado took a total of forty-five blood samples [at Cielo Drive]. However, for some reason never explained, he didn’t run subtypes on twenty-one of them. If this is not done a week or two after collection, the components of the blood break down. Later, when an attempt was made to re-create the murders, these omissions would cause many problems.


This time [at the LaBianca scene] Granado didn’t take any subtypes.”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 37 and 73). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

In 1969 sub-typing the blood at this crime scene could only be accomplished using the M-N-MN subtype because the blood was dry.

Q: And there are also sub-blood types; is that correct?
A: Yes, that is correct.
Q: Numerous sub-blood types; is that correct?
A: There are some 30.
Q: However, when the blood is dry, then there are only three sub-blood types; is that correct?
A: No, there are more, but there are only three that have been proven by experimental evidence.
Q: And those three sub-blood types or dried blood are M, N and MN; is that correct?
A: Yes, that is correct.

Granado used the subtype test he was supposed to use and by a strange accident he sub-typed all of the type O blood samples he found except one: “G43: Violet colored ribbons found on side of door near blood splatters, human blood- type O.” He sub-typed none of the type B blood samples at Cielo Drive.

Why Granado failed to M-N-MN subtype the type B blood he found at the scene is explained by Granado, contrary to Bigliosi’s assertion. It was not standard operating procedure in 1969.

Q: When you take samples of blood from the scene of a homicide, is it customary in homicide investigations to get sub blood types?
A: No, it is not.
Q: But you did do it in this case in certain situations?
A: Yes. We tried to do it in certain situations where the bloods are all the same. We tried to obtain another characteristic for further pinning down the particular individual.

I can’t agree with Bugliosi. Granado followed procedure and actually exceeded it to try to sort out the mess that confronted him at Cielo Drive.

Bugliosi also claims this on the same topic:

“Granado took blood samples from the rope, but didn’t take subtypes, again presuming.”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 41). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

That’s not what I see.

“G-28. Rope (nylon type found over beam and attached to Sebring and Tate) 
human blood.                          O-M”

(Report to Captain Don A. Martin Commander, SID DR#69-059 593)

My review of Granado’s testimony at the trial also failed to identify any problem caused by this ‘omission’. In fact, the defense never asked Granado a single question about the blood typing.

Conclusion: Not an error.

No Samples of Blood Taken from Victim Locations

Again, Bugliosi takes a shot at Granado.

“Nor did he [Granado] take samples from the pools of blood in the immediate vicinity of the two bodies in the living room, or from the stains near the two bodies on the lawn, presuming, he’d later testify, that they belonged to the nearest victims, and he’d be getting samples from the coroner anyway.”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 37). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

It appears Granado may have actually taken or at least tried to take these samples.

Granado testified that he did not take samples from near Frykowski and Folger for the reason stated by Bugliosi. He was not asked why. Contrary to Bugliosi’s comment suggesting otherwise, he was never asked about samples taken from near the bodies of Tate and Sebring.

It appears that the truth of the matter may be that Granado tried to take samples from near Folger and Frykowski’s bodies. The The First Homicide Investigation Progress Report also suggests that Granado actually took blood samples from near the bodies of Tate and Sebring.

“Going in a northwesterly direction from where Frykowski's body was found (Addendum 1B ) two large blood spots were found. Scientific Investigation Division has been unable to type this blood; however, it is the opinion of the investigating officers that these two large pools of blood are areas where Frykowski lay for moments in his attempt to escape from his assailants. It is possible that a struggle with the assailants occurred at these two locations.”

“Blood around area of Polanski's body and Sebring's body and rope which they were tied with, type O.”

(First Tate Homicide Investigation Progress Report- emphasis added)

These samples, like another mentioned later on, do not appear in Granado’s report to Captain Martin. Did Granado take these samples and lose the record? Maybe and, of course, that would be a pretty big error.

In my opinion, this error, if made, however, is minor. Contrary to Bugliosi’s claim it didn’t impact the investigation or the trial and would not have led to an arrest any faster nor would it have helped 'recreate the crime'. 

Bugliosi also hints that Granado relied upon the coroner for the blood types of the victims. While he did receive the coroner’s typing on each victim he also received their blood and ran his own test including the M-N-MN subtyping because he knew his samples were dried blood and he needed that to proceed.

Finally, it appears that this ‘mistake’ might not even be considered a 'mistake' by crime scene investigators today.

“Occasionally, investigators blindly collect blood samples from a scene without any thought about the facts they are trying to establish. An example is a crime scene consisting of the body of a shooting victim found alone in his residence. Some investigators will collect several blood samples from around the body. This is unnecessary since it will only establish that the victim bled at the scene of the crime. This fact is already proven by the presence of the body; however, one sample of pooled blood next to the body can be collected to confirm the results obtained from the victim's reference blood sample.” (George Schiro, Forensic Scientist, Louiisiana State Police Crime Laboratory, “Collection and Preservation of Blood Evidence from Crime Scenes”)

Conclusion: Not an error.

Steven Parent’s Car

I read somewhere (not in Helter Skelter) that Granado failed to type blood at Parent’s car that could have been important. I am sorry, I don't remember where and couldn't find it when I wrote this.

Granado typed the blood on the steering wheel and the dash (G36 and G37 in his report). Granado also found blood in insufficient quantities to type on the inside and outside door handles of Steven Parent’s car as he testified.

A: G41, also in the automobile, was on the inside and outside door handles of the Parent vehicle, and there was insufficient material for typing or human, but I got a positive benzidine reaction at the

To me this is interesting. The inside handle may be explained by Parent’s wounds. I have a harder type visualizing how blood could get to the outside door handle unless it was transferred there from another location such as Parent’s hand or the hand of one of the killers opening the door (perhaps to retrieve his wallet, unsuccessfully or to turn off the ignition).

Insufficient quantities are not Granado’s fault.

Conclusion: Not an error.

The Blood in the Garage

The narrative on this says there was blood in the garage that was never typed. At least one author has also made this same claim.

This blood is used by some to suggest that Parent was attacked near the garage before he entered his car. This is when, it is argued, his hand was slashed (of course the theory ignores the watch on the back seat with the severed band pictured to the right). 

The ‘blood in the garage’ theory originates with John W. Finken an investigator (or deputy coroner) for the LA coroner’s office and appears in the autopsy report of Sharon Tate. The relevant portion is pictured to the below. 

Finken arrived on the scene at 2:15 p.m. four hours after Granado. Granado makes no mention of blood in the ‘open garage’. The Homicide Report does not mention blood in the garage. No witness who was present at the crime scene (and testified at the trial) mentions blood being found or suspected in the garage.

Finken was a problem for Bugliosi during the trial because he wrote a series of unnecessary comments on Sharon Tate’s autopsy report. These comments were his inaccurate (or misleading) personal theory of the case. Here are some samples:

“Apparently entertaining a mixed group of 4 young people at/in her luxurious, avant garde, ranch-estate type home.”

“The party was noticed by neighbors**** during [word I can’t read] afternoon into early evening.”

“House doors opened + some lights yet on- windows ajar.”

“No weapons or suspects in custody”

Nothing I have found independently corroborates the claim there was blood in the garage.

Conclusion: Not an error.

The Gate Button

Bugliosi took Officer DeRosa to task for obliterating ‘Tex’ Watson’s fingerprint on the gate button.

“Officer DeRosa, who was charged with securing and protecting the scene until investigating officers arrived, now pressed the button himself, successfully opening the gate but also creating a
superimposure that obliterated any print that may have been there.”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 34). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

I’m sure most are aware Bugliosi is wrong.

Q: So you have a recollection of picking up your purse, is that right?
A (Winifred Chapman): Oh, yes.
Q: And what happened next?
A: I ran out, and of course, I had to push a button to get out the gate and – I went to the first neighbor’s house. I did not get in.

It wasn’t the DeRosa. It was Ms. Chapman.

Conclusion: Not an error.

Moving Evidence

“Two pieces of gun grip, first seen near the entryway, were now under a chair in the living room. As stated in the official LAPD report: “They were apparently kicked under the chair by one of the original officers on the scene; however, no one is copping out.”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (p. 36). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

The gun grips aren’t the only piece of evidence that appears to have moved during the crime scene investigation.

SUSAN ATKINS: And I reached down and turned my head away and touched her chest to get some blood and proceeded to go to the door and the only thing I remember being instructed to write on the door was “Pig” so I proceeded to take my hand and write “Pig” with the towel and threw the towel back and ran outside. (Susan Atkins’ Interview by Caruso and Caballero, December 1, 1969 thanks to

I held the towel in my hand and stood there for a few minutes. I did not know what to do. I turned around and threw the towel towards the living room area where Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring were lying. (Susan Atkins’ Grand Jury Testimony, December 5, 1969 thanks to

“She [Chapman] then looked down at the front porch and entry hall and saw pools of blood and a blood-spattered yellow towel.”

For as long as I have been lurking around blogs about this case Susan Atkins’ amazing towel throw has been a talking point now and again because some erroneously assume that the towel wrapped around Jay Sebring’s head under the rope is the towel used to write pig on the door. It’s not.

Two other towels checked by Granado could be the suspect.

G-39: Beige towel found in living room. Checked 11 separate spots and found them all to be human blood. Two spots tested for sub-type. Type O-M (Sharon Tate).

G-42: Yellow towel found in the front living room near trunks, human blood. Type O-M (Sharon Tate).

I believe the actual writing instrument was the yellow towel because the beige towel had “11 separate spots” which doesn’t sound like the right instrument. The beige towel, however, may have been one Atkins placed over Tate’s head, perhaps in an effort to create a scene similar to the one involving Sebring.

RICHARD CABALLERO: What did they pull over her head?
SUSAN ATKINS: They didn’t put anything over their heads. They didn’t have anything over their heads when we left, except Sharon Tate – I threw a towel over her head.
(Susan Atkins’ Interview by Caruso and Caballero, December 1, 1969 thanks to

What is interesting about the yellow towel is that, like the gun grip, it appears to have moved during the investigation. Granado places the yellow towel in the living room near the trunks (above).

Chapman placed the towel almost in the front hall, which again is near the trunks.

“She [Chapman] then looked down at the front porch and entry hall and saw pools of blood and a blood-spattered yellow towel.” (First Tate Homicide Investigation Progress Report)

But that is not where the police found the towel.

“Officers observed a yellow towel with blood splatters near the hearth in the living room. This has been typed as O blood.” (First Tate Homicide Investigation Progress Report)

I could see some officer not paying attention and accidently kicking the gun grip under a chair. I can’t imagine how the yellow towel moved from near the trunks at the entry way to near the hearth without someone picking it up and physically moving it there.

Conclusion: Both the gun grip and the yellow towel are errors (although, again, due to the defense, they had no impact on the trial).

The North End of the Porch

Bugliosi, by accident, had the picture of the broken bush on the north end of the porch. I say ‘by accident’ because the photo was taken, at Granado’s direction, of the blood, not the bushes. Some of Kasabian’s strongest testimony related to Frykowski falling into these bushes because the physical evidence, the broken bushes, corroborates her testimony. His blood at this location would further corroborate her.

“My concern here was that those samples he had taken matched in type and subtype the blood of Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring, although there was no evidence that either had run out the front door. While I could argue to the jury that the killers, or Frykowski himself, had tracked out the blood, I could foresee the defense using this to cast doubt on Linda’s story, so I asked Joe: ‘You don’t know if the random sampling is representative of the blood type of the whole area here?’

A. ‘That is correct. I would have had to scoop everything up.’”

Bugliosi, Vincent; Curt Gentry. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (pp. 398-399). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

Granado’s testimony.

Q: Now, right adjacent to the bush or bushes, Officer, you see what appears to be a large amount of blood; is that correct? 
A: Yes.
Q: Did you take any sample of blood from that area? 
A: No. I have none. I have checked my book and I haven’t seen any from that area. 
Q: Any particular…..
[Kanarak objects]
A: I did not find any from that particular area.
Q: You did not find any or you did not take any? 
A: I did not take any.
Q: You did not take any sample of the blood from the pool of blood adjacent to the bushes here? 
A: That is correct.
Q: Was there any particular reason for that?
A: No. At the time I guess I assumed all of the blood was of similar origin. 
Q: From one and the same person?
A: Yes.

[Aside: My next question would have been ‘why on earth would you assume that?’ You can almost hear Bugliosi thinking 'you have got to be kidding me!']

But this one gets stranger. The First Homicide Investigation Progress Report suggests that Granado may, indeed, have taken a sample from this location, which would explain the photograph.

“This would be consistent with the fact that Sebring had a large abrasion to the bridge of his nose and when discovered had a large hematoma swelling and bruising of the left eye. The large pool of blood which is described as on the front porch, approximately 6 inches south of the north edge of the porch is Sebring's type, O-MN. Directly north-east and just off of the porch is a small hedge which was broken down as if someone had lain there for some time.”

That would mean Granado lost the test results or misplaced them (or mislabeled them) by the time he testified a year later.

This one is a mistake any way you look at it. Granado either took the sample and lost the results or never took a sample. This blood stain is large and should have been tested, especially since he was sub-typing the blood on the porch to figure out the sources for the various bloodstains. This error also could have been used to try to impeach Kasabian.

Conclusion: Error.

Saved by the not so Dream Team

After Granado’s direct examination by Bugliosi the defense team cross examined him. They asked him about the bloody cloths, Atkins’ hair follicle test, the leather ‘laces’, 'benzadine' tests and practically everything else under the sun except any of the mistakes mentioned in this post. Not a single question.

When Granado took the stand on August 25, 1970 at least one of the members of that brain trust (sarcasm intended) called the defense team should have recognized that they had one serious problem: they needed to challenge Linda Kasabian’s testimony. Bugliosi was afraid this would happen, look at his quote above. He should have been right.

This witness, the state’s expert witness, the state’s scientist just told the jury Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring’s blood was on the front porch [subject for another post, by the way] and Frykowski’s was not, which means Sharon Tate and Jay Sebring were on that front porch and Frykowski was not. This is a win-win situation for the defense.

Garnado made a mistake, which allows them to argue ‘what other mistakes were made by the police and more importantly it allows them to attack Kasabian’s story directly.

It allows them to call into question a key piece of her narrative by placing two people on the porch where she only saw a third.

They would have had to have set up the testimony through Kasabian but could have done that by simply having her reiterate her story on cross examination. They saw the blood report in advance. They knew what Granado had to say when he took the stand.

It is actually rather simple: just have her repeat her story on cross examination:

She left the immediate crime scene and then supposedly returned. You do this to set up the thought that she didn’t, in fact, return. You do that because the Granada evidence contradicts her.

Then place her standing at the “LK arrow". From there she could see the porch clearly.

Then get her to confirm she didn’t see what the state’s expert will say must have happened.

Granado on cross examination then says that the one person Kasabian says she saw on the front porch wasn’t there. Where’s Frykowski’s blood?

Instead they did nothing. Why? Well, Fitzgerald tells us why:

Bugliosi: Your Honor, that is a misstatement now. I think Mr. Fitzgerald knows when you say ‘animal,” you are not referring to a human being. I am going to object o that ground. It is a deliberate effort, I think, to get this witness confused.

Mr. Fitzgerald: I don’t know enough to confuse him.

The Court: Overruled.

[Aside: At the very end of Granado's testimony the following discussion ensues.

Mr. Kanarek: Your Honor, before he is excused may we approach the bench, Your Honor?
The Court: Very well.

Kanarek: I would make a motion and request that Mr. manson be allowed to ask the witness several questions in connection with this matter.
The Court: Why?
Kanarek: Well, I think—I think this evidence is very vital to Mr. Manson’s case—it obviously involves material wherein—
The Court: That is not my point. What I am asking you is, why should he be permitted to ask questions rather than you?
Mr. Kanarek: Because of the right to effective counsel, your Honor. [Given Kanarek’s performance a very good point.]

The Court: Any reason you cannot ask the questions?
Mr. Kanarek: No, but he has a desire to do this. I can see no harm coming by asking the questions, a couple of questions of this witness. [It certainly can't be worse then you four.]

The Court: The motion is denied.

Maybe Manson was the only one to recognize the problems with Granado's testimony.]

Bugliosi exaggerated the mistakes made by the police in Helter Skelter. He later takes credit for fixing the problems or avoiding their impact at trial or uses them to demonstrate how much more difficult his task was in securing a conviction because of police errors. Did the police make errors? Yes, they did. But they didn’t make several of those claimed by Bugliosi.

Pax Vobiscum