Los Angeles Free Press Vol. 7 No. 45 Issue # 329 Nov. 6, 1970
Beausoleil, Manson, Death Row & the gas chamber, revisited
It seemed incongruous to be discussing Frank Zappa with a condemned man on Death Row, San Quentin. But we were, Beausoleil and I, sitting in a little yellow room together during a nervous hour wherein the subject went from murder to music to Tim Leary to Aleister Crowley.
Visiting San Quentin was wonderful. I took a bus from San Francisco north to San Rafael and then copped a Yellow Cab to the austere bayside prison. They zap you with a metal scanner; then you walk up the flower-lined road to the visitors turret, whereat you announce the name of the person you intend to visit. The waiting room has benches similar to those in bus depot waiting rooms and the walls are lined with art works by inmates, all for sale. There are display cases filled with handcrafted jewelry and leatherwork, cable car desk lamps and wood workings of various kinds. Softly in the background plays the country music station. Waiting to see Bob Beausoleil one was treated to Roger Miller, a Johnny Cash top 20 golden hits album commercial from Columbia Records, and the Tammy Wynette song about how difficult it is to be faithful to just one man, especially if he is a creep.
Beausoleil's name was called from the speaker system and we walked into the visitors room. For condemned prisoners, visits are conducted in a private locked cell so I was placed immediately in this ten by six yellow room and clang clang the door was locked behind me. Soon Bob arrived and relieved for us the grim sensation of being alone in a locked cell. Beausoleil had heeded the Manson appeal to X the forehead, and his was almost healed. He was attired in jeans and a blue denim work shirt, his chin covered with a short goatee.
He seemed calm enough. One had heard many times of the strange change in the behavior of condemned men on Death Row, whereby they allegedly become rather brutish and choppily feral. Not so, it seems, with Beausoleil, who seemed calm and rather placid, given the circumstances of possible future green lung invasion.
We talked of many things: of the days in San Francisco when Beausoleil lived with filmmaker Kenneth Anger and helped Anger make "Lucifer Rising"; of the Topanga Canyon days of 1968 when Beausoleil played an Indian scout in the immortal tennis shoe classic, Ramrodder; of the long ago days when he participated in those innocent Mother's freakouts. "Frank used to let me get up on stage- sing harmony on the Oldies but Goodies- you know with Vito and the others," he recalled. He mentioned how he visited Zappa in the spring of 1969 and tried to interest him in recording the Family; but evidently there was no interest.
Mr. Beausoleil is reticent in the area of conversation dealing with the murder of Gary Hinman. As you know he fingered Mr. Manson out as the snuffer when he testified at his second trial, but since then he has given no indication that he is sticking by that story. But none, either, that he is not sticking to his testimony. Time will tell.
Whatever happened, Beausoleil is a now-generation American. His parents are straight, law-abiding US citizens who pray before their meals. During Bob Beausoleil's second trial we had lunch with them several times at the various hideous cafeterias in the downtown public buildings, and one heard prayers for the first time in ten years. They stood up for their son with a Confucian fervor throughout his trials.
It's hard to know what happened but certainly the Hornet God summoned by the early Acid Tests descended upon Robert Kenneth Beausoleil, who is legally dead. And it is the media and their clients, the blood-thirsty ghoul-brains of the public, that will have sent him to the gas chamber. For only after his association with Manson became public knowledge and it became obvious that if he were not given the death penalty then Charles Manson (AKA Devil) probably would not receive it- only then did Evelle Younger and his underlings decide to kill him. It must ever be remembered in his first trial, ending in a hung jury, the prosecution did not ask for lung-snuff. And for over a year the papers have buried thousands of important issues beneath a myriad of headlines and hype stories about this relatively unimportant series of murders. You don't see any headlines about napalmed rice paddies. You don't see any headlines about payoffs connected with this case. You don't see any conciliation or peace in the papers. The newspapers are like a devilish sermon of fire, with their endless pages of ads of badly made life props, with their boring collations of butchery. And Manson is an alcoholic editor's dream come true- oversexed, acid-gobbling, long-haired, nearly middle-aged, song-singing, devil-worshiping, bastard son of a teen-aged prostitute who thinks he's Jesus and who formerly was arrested for white slavery. With people like Manson on the front page, you don't have to do any serious investigative reporting. And the authorities can shoot as many Mexican-Americans as they want. And the real criminals, the criminals with the computers and the oil slicks, walk around worshiped.
Meanwhile back at the Hall of Justice, the prosecution is preparing to rest their case. Rudy Altobelli, the sharp witted gentleman who owns the house at 10050 Cielo Drive, testified about his encounter with Charles Manson on March 23, 1969, when Charlie came to the guest house looking for Terry Melcher. Mr. Altobelli had met Manson before at Dennis Wilson's house. Altobelli testified that he told Manson that Terry was living out in Malibu, probably with his mother.
Irving Kanarek, when cross-examining Mr. Altobelli, almost created a few heart attacks in the defense camp when he asked Altobelli the following question: "When was the first time, Mr. Altobelli, that you had occasion to recall the proported presence of Mr. Manson on your premises in what you say is March of 1969? When was the first you had to recall it after it allegedly happened?"
Altobelli answered: "When I was flying to Rome with Sharon." Well, when he said this, everybody thought that Altobelli was about to gun down the whole helter-skelter motive for the murders. Kanarek was quick to change the line of questioning, even though Altobelli interjected that he was willing to explain his answer. Nor did the prosecutor, Mr. Bugliosi, go into it on redirect examination.
Interestingly, Altobelli testified that when he was rushing back from Europe after the murders, he thought of Manson as a possible suspect but did not blow it to police when they questioned him.
Then the prosecution was going to bring to the stand a Sgt. Maupin, who works in the Hall of Justice escorting prisoners around. Allegedly, Manson (last June 10) offered Maupin $100,000 to help him escape. The idea is absurd that Charlie would have 100 grand laying around- unless the rumors that Manson has two secret sponsors are true- it is so absurd that it would seem to me to detract from the main body of evidence the prosecution has presented, rather than add to it. In any case something must have happened in chambers to prevent it, because I don't believe that the good sergeant got to testify in front of the jury.
Brooks Postin (sic), famous in Manson circles for his ability to enter into the trance state at will, testified about the meaning of "Helter Skelter" in terms of the prosecution's contention that Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Voityck Frykowski , Steve Parent and Abigail Folger died as part of a deliberate scheme to trigger off the destruction of the United States by black militants. I mean, come off it. The real story will be told, and it is already typed and locked away safely.
Paul Watkins, famous for his National Enquirer "I Was Satan's Second In Command" article of many months ago, testified also about Helter Skelter. Watkins was at one point, according to his testimony, an avid follower of Mr. Manson. He thought Manson to be Jesus, in fact. Ron Hughes asked some interesting questions of Mr. Watkins on cross-examination, such as: "Can you tell us about Charlie's power?" To which Watkins answered, "It's a maze of agreements and implied agreements." Hughes also asked a couple of questions about a legendary event in the history of the Family: The Miracle at the House on Gresham Street. Manson, according to legend, had his membrum virile bitten in twain by a young lady named Bo in the spring of 1969, causing blood to spew in all directions. Manson, through magical healing powers, was able to sew himself together and heal the sutures, all in one occult swoosh, so even the scars were removed. Watkins testified that he, himself, had not seen the event, but that it occurred when Manson and the others were living on Gresham Street in Canoga Park.
Stay tuned for the last half of this article that hopefully will run tomorrow.