Matt: You take great care to shed light on possible shady monetary reward deals made between police and prosecution witnesses, most importantly Ronnie Howard. In your opinion what role did that play in swaying the jury and in the ultimate outcome of the trial?
RH: As for Ronnie's testimony, it was obviously more important for the prosecution of the Manson Family defendants, as to what she didn't say, or concealed. I would rather not reveal too much about Ms Howard's story/confessions, but let the readers discover for themselves what may, or may not, have motivated the jury. For me, the fact that no "witness" even mentioned Helter Skelter as a motive for the Tate massacre, until the prosecutor started interviewing witnesses and building his case, is very significant. But, what moves a jury can be something as simple as "the glove doesn't fit.
Because the very foundation of any judicial system is dependent upon the ingredient "truth," justice was not served in the Tate/LaBianca murders case. But, I must also acknowledge the true spirit of American justice, as Mr Obama has so eloquently explained it to be: Anyone who doesn't think it's OK to kill bad people like Bin Laden (without due process of law) should have their head examined.
Matt: This is more an observation than a question: I really enjoyed the chapter devoted to a cell mate who was NOT Ronnie Howard, who Sadie first spilled details of the murders to. She did not go to police. Her interpretation of the confession is markedly different than Ronnie Howard's ultimately was at trial. The juxtaposition of these two women is thought provoking and raised my antennas regarding the way witnesses were handled by the police and the prosecution. Thoughts?
RH: Obviously, Nancy Jordon is a key witness who the jury never knew existed. Because Susan Atkins never even mentioned to Nancy that Charles Manson was involved in the Tate murders, his role in that specific massacre was probably minimal, at best. Thus, Nancy could have put a huge dent in the prosecution's claim of Manson's primary involvement in the Tate murders. So why did the "Defense" not call her as a witness?
Matt: I was intrigued by your exposure to "Kevin", who became a post-TLB Family member. You throw out the possibility that he was a law enforcement plant. If not for the numerous links of the Family to Hollywood and the monied establishment I'd be skeptical. However it makes sense given all of the pieces of the puzzle. Is that a strong possibility in Robert Hendrickson's mind, or just a passing idea.
RH: I knew there was something different about Kevin and now there is a rumor that he was an F.B.I. agent sent undercover to watch over me. I started looking back in time and realized that after Kevin arrived on the scene, he was always there when I was filming: Death Valley, Devil's Canyon, etc. As briefly mentioned in the book, I was a member of Area 51 (a top secret military installation) and although my association with the "Article" project was over, I was told that I would be monitored for the rest of my life.
Matt: I always had the impression that Clem was not the brightest of people. But in reading the dialogues I was very impressed with his intelligence and articulation of complex ideas. Given your exposure to the young Grogan, what was your opinion of his mind capacity?
RH: Clem and I had several intelligent conversations and never once did I even suspect that he was mentally disadvantaged, as he apparently convinced a so-called educated judge to think he was. But, what is the difference between a person who "functions barely above the animal level" and a so-called educated person. Isn't the very definition of a human being: A creature that, to some extent, functions above the animal level? Is it just some degree of "mental maturity" which distinguishes each of us from one another?
Apparently, Clem had the amazing mental ability to play both dumb and dumber roles, just like a judge would want. (Note: nothing turns a judge on more that the feeling of "defendant dumb, so I must be smart") Charles Manson has been trying to play the "animal level" routine, but so far only Clem has succeeded in getting himself out of jail, without climbing the fence. So. what does that say about Clem's mind? And how come Charles "the mastermind" Manson refused to play "their" game, according to their rules, so he could walk out of prison? Discover the answer to that question and you will understand the secret to the Manson mystique.
Also significant here: A judge bases his opinion of a person, in major part, upon the person's ability to answer questions directly. That is, not so much, is the answer correct, but does it address the question directly. For example: I asked you to a question to your bloggers
..."explain to me how you and your audience connect "then" to "now" mentally?
Now, look at all the responses and see if you can recognize the level of "mental maturity" (ability to foresee the consequences of what I say) expressed within those answers.
"Intellectual curiosity is the very definition of NOW"...If you are curious you are in the NOW,"
While the above appears to rate a 10+on a scale of 1 thru 10, a simple minded judge could actually be intimidated by such a profound sounding response. Although the answer is less personal than others, it is direct and practically un-disputable. Now, see if you can find the answer that is totally off-base and can even be considered an unintelligible response to a question everyone else found very easy to comprehend.
Where the measure of "mental maturity" relates directly to ones' ability to understand the consequences of their actions, Clem apparently knew exactly which role he had to play in front of a specific judge in order to be saved from a death sentence. Susan Atkins, on the other hand, did not even realize that her confessing of the Tate murders to a stranger like Ronnie Howard could lead to the arrest and conviction of not only her, but her beloved Charlie Manson. If you compare the Manson Family members on a "mental maturity" scale, your discovery should be an interesting experience. Then compare the "mental maturity" level of the Manson Family "killers" with those you meet in your everyday lives.
P.S. To put Clem's situation in a proper perspective, try and find another murder case, in American history where in the first trial, the judge reduces the death sentence to life and several years later, the guilty defendant is actual se free, without an appeal process or re-trial.