Monday, June 27, 2016

Follow Up on Laurence Merrick's Killer, Dennis Mignano

The Col asked in his debut post at this blog if Laurence Merrick's killer, Dennis Mignano, was still living.  The answer to that question is, yes.  He is 68 years old and lives in his deceased parents home in San Jose CA.  I did a little fact checking primarily on the three things that the article seemed to say contributed to Mignano killing Laurence Merrick.  The three things were the Mignano home burning down while he was in high school, the murder of a cousin and the murder of his sister.   This is what I found.......

Dennis Mignano was born September 30, 1947 in Santa Clara County CA.

His parents were Peter (Pete) Mignano and Rose Marie (nee Campagna) Mignano.   The family was living on N. 14th Street in San Jose in 1947 when Dennis was born.  They continued to live there until 1956 when they moved to Linda Vista Street in San Jose the year that Dennis's sister was born.  Dennis still lives in this home.  It's the home he lived in while going to high school.  When looking up the home on the real estate sites they all say the home was built in 1955.  While there may have been a fire in the home, it's doubtful that it "burned down" because if it was a total rebuild the year it was rebuilt would be reflected in the home's history on the real estate sites.
Here are two screen captures of the San Jose City Directory.  It looks like originally the homes on Linda Vista Street were given house numbers with five numbers.  The 1963 image, when Dennis would have been in high school, shows this.  In 1972 all of the homes on Linda Vista began to be re-numbered from five digits to three digits.  Looking at the available years of directories it seems that the Mignano's and one other family, the Autry's, were holdouts until 1976.  By then all of the homes had three digit house numbers.  Not only that the cross streets were re-named.  This was confusing and I wanted to be certain that the Mignano's were definitely in the same home so I went over each householder name and found quite a few of the same names in the 1963 and 1976 directories.  I put green tick marks beside the names of residents on the 1963 directory screen cap who also were listed in the 1976 directory.  This anomaly could make it appear that the Mignano's moved to a different home by the time Dennis murdered Laurence Merrick when in fact they did not.
I used censuses and family trees at Ancestry to determine who Dennis's cousins were, there were plenty and I stuck to first cousins when trying to figure out which cousin could have been murdered.  I could come up with only one cousin who had died in the years before Laurence Merrick was murdered.  His name was Gerald James Campagna, his father and Dennis's mother were brother and sister.  I was able to find a newspaper article published at the time of his death.  The article gives the boy's name as Terry Campagna but I believe this is a typo and should read Gerry.  The age of the boy in the article matches the age of Dennis's cousin and the date of death is the same in the article and the California death record.
The trouble with this is that Gerry was not murdered, he was killed in a car accident.  The words killed and murdered are interchangeable in some instances but they should not have been in this instance.  However, the cousin did die at 15 years old in a rather grim way when Dennis was just shy of 9 years old.  It could have been traumatic for him.  
The death of Dennis's sister was a straight up murder and she did hang out with bikers and even danced topless at a bar.  While her murder was certainly tragic it did not happen until six months AFTER Laurence Merrick was murdered.  The murder was never solved.  To my knowledge no one was even arrested though a couple of Hells Angel's were looked at.  Given Dennis's mental state during that time, if I were law enforcement, I would have gone back and looked at him for killing his own sister.  Maybe they did, who knows?

No matter what I tried I could not get this image larger

I was not able to find any pictures of Dennis Mignano, no high school pictures or pictures taken at the time of his arrest.  I was able to find a high school picture of his sister Michele though.  She went to Piedmont Hills High School, it's a 10th grade picture from the 1972 yearbook.

On to more current information.  I did a background check on Mignano and was surprised that his arrest for murder in LA County shows up.

There were also two other cases involving Mignano on the report but other than providing a date and case number for each event there was no other information.  Both of the cases were in Santa Clara County.  I tried going to the Santa Clara County Superior Court website but their criminal online information only goes back to 2004.  One of the cases had a date of January 9, 1998, the other October 2, 1998 and they had two different case numbers which leads me to believe they were separate cases.

I was able to find one civil case for harassment against Mignano.  This was initiated in 1997 and disposed in 2007.  I have redacted the woman's name.

I could find no indication of what Mignano does or did in the way of employment.  I could not find any email address or social websites connected to him.  He has no online presence as near as I can tell.  He is not connected to any addresses other than the one family address that has been his since he was nine years old in 1956. 

Mignano's father Pete died July 30, 1989.  His mother Rose died May 23, 2011, her obituary is brief.


starviego said...

Good work.

The FilmFax article says Mignano was an Army Vet, and the widow of Merrick mentioned PTSD as a possible cause, indicating perhaps that Mignano was a combat vet from Vietnam.

The OC Register article of 10/3/81 implies that Mignano was under psychiatric care when arrested. if this is true, his lawyer would have had him committed to the local mental ward immediately; thus it is possible Mignano never did a day in jail for his crime. His most likely source of income today is an SSI check, for his mental illness.

Unfortunately we don't know essential details like where he got the gun, why he thought Merrick was messing with his mind, or any interview with any shrink or lawyer. These kind of things always exist in a twilight land of speculation and half facts.

Just being crazy, of course, is not the same thing as motive. Most nut cases don't kill; and if they do, statistically the victims are mostly people in their own family.

I hope the cops had something to back up Mignano's story other than a confession.

orwhut said...

"You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something."
Charles manson

Robert Hendrickson said...

So, it sounds like the GUN Control freaks were right on POINT, but what about Gerald James Campagna RE: August 8, 1956 ? GET-IT - August 8th ?

AND what IF some 'consequential' acts actually occur prior to THEIR 'causation' ACT. In other words, what IF the KILLING of Merrick prevented the occurrence of a consequential ACT from happening ?

I know, in our world it's complicated enough just to deal with " ACT and Causation" cases, BUT do you KNOW for sure that 'consequential preventative' ACTs do NOT occur ?

I mean, at least half the US KNOWS that IF you Control Guns, you will at least "prevent" some murders, so WHY not realize that IF certain people are KILLED, at least some murders will be PREVENTED.

The JFK assassination provides a perfect example: While HE was allowed to live, the "Bay of Pigs" massacre happened and HIS assassination likely prevented the Vietnam War, EXCEPT one LBJ then completed the 'consequential' ACT for HIM.

Laurence Merrick actually CREATED mucho great Pain and suffering for MANY good and decent people. I KNOW, I am a witness. And IF the Court had NOT found that Merrick intended to defraud ME out of my MANSON film and 'consequentially" ruled in my lawsuit FAVOR, I might have caused some drastic result in HIS disfavor.

In MY final private discussions with HIM, I realized HE was mentally ILL himself and that ANY continued association with HIM could ONLY end badly. Even HIS most trusted confident Leo Rivers finally realized that Merrick was a walking KARMA time bomb and LEFT his employee.

Because Merrick KNEW so much about the REAL Hollywood scene at that time period and because HE desperately wanted Charlie Manson's POWER, there maybe a good story BOOK here.

"Crazy GUY still LIVES, but GUY that drove folks crazy must DIE." Everyone loves that kind of ending !

starviego said...

Mr. Hendrickson:

Do you know why Laurence Merrick didn't make any more films after the Manson film? You'd think the success of that venture would have opened more doors for him.

Farflung said...

Reactive measures are the killing fields, of "good intentions."

Prohibition punished all, for the poor appetite controls of the few. Did anyone predict the mafia would form as a result? Sure, the mafia did, and converted the lost revenues into fortunes, while establishing a robust Canadian booze industry.

When McVeigh, and Kaczynski deployed their weapon of choice, was there any news coverage, or senate hearings about bomb control?

Does car insurance incent one to be a good driver, via lower premiums? How bout Obamacare? Obesity is out of control in the US, any simplistic solutions for this disease? Fat tax, scales imbedded at the grocery checkout, outlaw plus size clothing?

Seems so easy, Europe wanted to limit car ownership, so they limited the size of engines to make them less appealing. Those crafty citizens started producing some of the most efficient, fast, and stylish vehicles ever produced. Gasoline was limited, so they use diesel.

I don't see how one can legislate good behavior, vs focusing upstream where stellar citizens, play well with one another, via education, and early detection of antisocial traits.

Robert Hendrickson said...

FARFLUNG: Maybe you can help me understand this: I made a deal with Merrick whereby HE would get 50% of the profits from MY MANSON film, but when it was completed HE ran with the picture, apparently believing HE could have it ALL.

BUT if he had NOT screwed ME, we could have maintained a project together whereby HE could have had 50% of everything - book deals, etc. FOREVER. SO what possess a person to actually SCREW themselves out of EVERYTHING.

Is it some kind of mental illness - like a criminal mind - OR is it simply a matter a NOT understanding mathematics ? Like 50% of something is more than 100% of nothing.

STARVIEGO asks why didn't Merrick do something like another film AFTER the success of MANSON, BUT MANSON only became successful AFTER I got EVERYTHING back.

Matt said...

Brilliant research by our Chief Assassin!

Patty is Dead said...

She never disappoints

Matt said...

(don't piss her off...)

starviego said...


As I understand it, it was a guy named Mark Ross who introduced you to the Family. Do you have any info on how this man gained the trust of the group? I have my suspicions about him. Also, in the two years you were filming, did you ever pay them any money for their cooperation?

No more doubletalk please, just the facts.

Unknown said...

good luck there lol ... You think I haven't asked those questions repeatedly?

But oh yeah- I guess you will get a straight answer :)

Deb you are so really great at research it boggles my mind every time.


Unknown said...

Sorry Star. Didn't mean to sound dickish lol Thats just my frustration coming out cause...

The Ross questions are really good ones, and we never get anything specific

Unknown said...

Mark Ross...

Introduces Mr. H to family
Parties with the family at Spahn
Goes with the Family to the trial and courthouse
Lets them stay at his place- where Zero dies

He seems to be pretty tightly tied to the family yet...

No information on him. He never really comes up in any of the books- even Bugs sort of brushed by him with the exception of a few cursory mentions.

Considering that someone died at his place and he was a known Family associate- Shouldn't Bugs have crawled up his ass like he did with everyone else?

I would love to ask some question of one Mark Ross

Robert Hendrickson said...

STARVIEGO: (1) Yes (2) Yes - and may I ask: WHO are YOU ?

starviego said...

"Lets them stay at his place- where Zero dies"

I believe the gun used by(or on) Zero also belonged to Ross.

He was apparently an aspiring actor at the time. Did he perhaps also attend Merrick's acting school?

On the surface he seems like just a nice guy who was maybe attracted to the Manson mystique, and the remnants of the Family cozied up to him because he offered living space.

Or maybe he was working with the cops, who would have had a vested interest in keeping tabs on the Family, and what they were up to, or perhaps the investigators hoped to learn more info that could have been used by the prosecution.

starviego said...


" (1) Yes "

Care to elaborate? It's been almost 50 years. It's time to lay your cards on the table.

"..and may I ask: WHO are YOU?"

Just some guy who believes there are still secrets to uncover in this case.

starviego said...

Also, does anybody remember a reference to Israel's Mossad being involved in investigating the case? I vaguely remember that claim being made but can't find a source now. If so, I can't help but wonder if it had something to do with Merrick himself being from Israel.

Robert Hendrickson said...

A little OFF topic, but I recently spoke with a friend who made a fortune in mail order WIGS back in the late 60s early 70s. Thus, I was thinking: how come my friend made a fortune in wigs and TEX had to beg girls just to buy one of HIS.

It's called the WINNER / LOSER syndrome. It's even talked about in the Bible.

Then you have the "Family" doing THEIR fun fucking thing, UNTIL the loser TEX arrives on the scene and bingo, the table turns to "dope deal gone wrong" and a gun goes off.

So is it NOT possible that the TATE / LaBIANCA "prosecution" actually HELPED allow for the holding-off of TEX's "extradition" back to Los Angeles, in order to keep HIM out of the Tate / LaBianca murder trial ? Cause IF Tex was a defendant in the TATE trial, it would have been very hard for the JURY to NOT realize that EVERYTHING went South when the "Devil came to do HIS business."

Unknown said...

On Merrick's wiki page it says Sharon Tate went to his acting school.... Thats a weird coincidence I wasn't aware of

Farflung said...


I use two basic techniques in regard to analyzing the human condition. 1. Benchmarking, 2. Pattern recognition.

Considering Mr. Merrick, I can't understand why anyone would forego 50 percent of something, for 100 percent of nothing.

This may explain the endurance, and relevance of such documents as the bible, and the works of Shakespeare into the 21st century. People simply don't change.

We select crops to be more disease resistant, breed livestock to produce more product, and be more docile. People... Not so much.

What behaviors of Merrick have been engineered out of society? Bernie Madoff, the former governor of Virginia, or Leslie Van Houten?

What's largely ignored is the impact to the victims. Most who are long gone. Yet Tex Watson manages to make fuzzy copies of himself.

Sadly, the cycle not only repeats, but seems to amplify with the passage of time.

In answer to your original question. I dunno.

orwhut said...

That's something to think about. I guess the prosecution knew Tex would be a slam dunk conviction and death sentence. Maybe the state didn't want to chance the girls blaming everything on him. It would have been better than the defense they got.

Unknown said...

Orwhut don't you think the girls got the defense they wanted? I am not sure you are implying that they didn't get a fair defense, but to be fair in defense of the defense lol if you are...

They changed lawyers liberally, and abused them all. They didn't cooperate in any way, and only took instruction from Charlie. They acted like raving lunatics and shaved their heads and cut X's into their heads in full view of the jury they knew would be deciding their fate.

I vote the girls had nobody to blame for their defense but themselves.

And having said that- LULU was still given a new trial because the one lawyer she didn't choose to replace - needed to be replaced. So nobody can say she didn't get every benefit of the doubt. The statements she made and the way she acted in that courtroom- Ron Hughes wasn't going to make any difference, and in fact she wound up with a much more experienced person anyway.

Tex didn't get tried with the rest of them because he was the only one who actually respected his counsel and took its advice. Tex was the first one to realize he was going to be forever part of the system, so he better learn how to start figuring out how to play it... Legal stalling maneuvers, faking illness/insanity, religion. Tex was a fast learner of the institutional life.

Matt said...

That's a good point, RH. One that I have thought about many times. What if Watson had been a co- defendant at the TLB trial? It may have gone very differently for Manson. However, that would have required well... you know... him listening to his lawyer. Well, maybe not, then...

David said...

Starviego: Care to elaborate? It's been almost 50 years. It's time to lay your cards on the table.

Mr. Hendrickson once did an interview where it is claimed that Mark Ross was the leading actor of a film he was working on in 1969 called "I Am Here" and that Mark Ross had connections to the Family when he met him and that is how he gained access.

That same interview says his 'leading man', I assume Mark Ross, fled the country to escape a counter-culture cult.

The interview does not actually attribute either statement directly to Mr. Hendrickson. It is, however, implied and I am unsure where the interviewer from a small town in southwestern Ohio could have come up with such information on his own.

Then again that same interview seems to imply that Mark Ross fled in December 1969 +/- but this is impossible. He went to jail for contempt March 6, 1970 for five days for being part of the Family shouting chorus at the hearing where Manson was denied the ability to defend himself.

Somewhere on here there is a bit about Mark Ross.

Unknown said...

Yeah... What about Mark Ross?????

who are you people and do you know each other?

David said... I know, who? I know no one on here. I was trying to help with the 'connection'. I'm a lurker more interested in the evidentiary issues of the case then a lot of this stuff but enjoy reading all the posts.

There is very little out there about Mark Ross. He did not 'own' the house at 28 Clubhouse Ave in 1969. In fact, I have found nothing that actually links him to that address 'objectively' (perhaps someone else has- 'objectively' meaning a lease or something similar). It appears he was a post-murders hanger-on to the family who probably raised his fist in the air and engaged in some street theater-rebellion until he saw reality and then ran like we all would. That makes it very difficult to trace him.

There is no record of him as an 'actor' (that I have found).

It appears he 'arrives' on the scene after the murders and joined the anti-establishment fray that initially surrounded all this.

The person here who may know more prefers not to share.

David said...

And while I defend his position, God knows taking it to your grave is certainly going to help set the historical record straight- I guess we could break into your therapist's office and steal the files or something.

starviego said...

"There is no record of him as an 'actor' (that I have found)."

Ross appears in Merrick's second film "Black Angels," as one of "Satan's Serpents" motorcycle gang.

Still looking for the original connection of Ross to the family.

Hendrickson, you're up!

orwhut said...

St Circumstance said... Orwhut don't you think the girls got the defense they wanted?
Yes, St. I was speculating that the prosecution didn't want to chance them changing their minds.

Unknown said...

:) gotcha.

Was Mark Ross a government plant?

Robert Hendrickson said...

DREATH: Nice find, but WHY an Ohio newspaper ? Charles Manson was born there ! When MANSON opened in Cinncinatti, Ohio theaters in 1976, reporters were all over it. We had a very large sit-down breakfast press conference and I was amazed at all the "homework" the reporters did regarding the Manson Case.

My friend Mark Ross NOW prefers HIS privacy.

ORWHUT: The national network news-magazine TV shows PAY $10,000 as a "consulting" fee to folks like a victim's sister or a Manson writer for appearing on THEIR program. Did you ever know of a "lawyer" like Bugliosi turning down $10,000 just to open HIS mouth on TV ?

MATT; If TEX had appeared in the FIRST Manson Trial, EVERYONE would have been afforded the opportunity to SEE the Big Picture in it's proper context and the other defense attorneys would have been obligated to put HIM through a very rigorous cross examination. IF he did NOT testify, they could and would have easily shifted most ALL of the blame on HIM. AND maybe even "Hasta LaVista Helter Skelter."

IT just hit ME, the ONLY reason these "Merrick Killer" articles are even newsworthy is BECAUSE of the name Charles Manson.

OMG: What IF nobody remembers I made the MANSON film - NO obituary Notice for Hendrickson !

Unknown said...

Everyone will remember you Mr.H - I re-bought your DVD's a few years back because all I had was a VHS of the original. I wanted the second one as well, and (call me a geek) but I thought it was cool to have your signature on them...

until I got them in the mail and opened them up- I forgot Merrick was even involved. I only remembered your name and involvement.

I think most people think of you when they think of Manson and Inside - not Merrick.

Unknown said...

One question...

why not shift all blame to Tex anyway? Whats the difference if he doesn't testify or if he isn't there?

I have to disagree that Tex's presence makes any difference at all. They were not following any strategy and the defense lawyers obligations were thrown out the window, because the girls and Charlie didn't listen to them at all and fired/changed them almost regularly.

Why would Tex being around change that? He was brought into the court at one point, and nothing changed... they blew kisses at him and went right back to the show...

Unknown said...

I respect if Mark Ross wants to be left alone after all these years...

But he looked like the latter day Jim Morrison and he is a HUGE question mark in all of this to me.


David said...

Mr. Hendrickson, like St. Circumstance I never even knew/registered that Merrick had anything to do with your movie until I came to this site. Personal trivia:I grew up near Hamilton, Ohio and remember clearly the 'press' at the time. We had all read HS and a bunch of us piled into cars to drive down there (from Dayton) to see it. That's how I remembered/found the article.

At the risk of being the target of lawyer jokes- I'm an attorney. I do a good deal of trial work and actually appear in court frequently (unlike most 'litigators'). I don't practice criminal law but I would say this: as Tex's attorney I would never want him in that trial.

My best defense is 'Manson made me do it.' and if I am sitting in Texas watching this unfold I'm never going to pull that off if I put him in a jail or a courtroom in California with his cohorts in crime. Too much press, too many antics and too much Family. I'd also rather 'see' the DA's case before I have to actually defend the DAs case. It is a lot easier to cross examine a witness if you know precisely what they are going to say.

Unknown said...

Those are excellent points...

Anonymous said...

Deb is zee best at this, bar none.

Robert, it's funny you mentioned wigs, because I've been meaning to ask you if Merrick wore one. There aren't many pictures of him, but in the Albuquerque picture with him and Paul his hair looks like a rug.

Greed is the obvious answer, for as to why Merrick tried to screw you over. Good on you for having the balls to stand up to him, and in doing so, teaching the "teacher" a lesson. ;)

grimtraveller said...

Robert Hendrickson said...

IT just hit ME, the ONLY reason these "Merrick Killer" articles are even newsworthy is BECAUSE of the name Charles Manson

I think that applies to possibly most of the people that end up featured on this and most other TLB sites. Who, in all honesty, would give a toss about Jess Buckles, Steven Kay, Donald Musich, Burt Katz, Donald Barnett, Brooks Poston, Al Springer, Marcus Arneson, "Rosina," Nuel Emmons, Bernard Crowe, Diane Lake, Barbara Hoyt, Stephanie Schram, Kathleen Maddox, Matthew Roberts and a myriad of other 'names' were it not for their connection to Charles Manson ?

My friend Mark Ross NOW prefers HIS privacy

And so he should. Do you still ever see Mark ?

If TEX had appeared in the FIRST Manson Trial, EVERYONE would have been afforded the opportunity to SEE the Big Picture in it's proper context

But it was seen in its proper context. The combination of so many witnesses and a prosecution case that ran for some 5 months did that.
Tex was the first of the killers to be actively tied to the scene of the crime when his fingerprint was found. Once Mrs Chapman had said she washed the door on the day of the murders, Tex's goose was well on the way to being cooked. Once Linda agreed to testify there was no way on this earth he was going home. Insanity and penitence were all he had left and his jury saw through that.
The prosecution always emphasized the fact that Charlie didn't kill anybody because it "demonstrated his control in getting others to do it for him." In a roundabout way, Tex being the chief assassin that had no reason to kill anyone has historically done him a favour even though in pure gut level terms he was the worst there could be.
But it still landed him a death sentence.
In any case, simply being a killer, he wasn't particularly interesting. Tex doesn't even rate a mention as one of America's worst murderers. Whereas the controller that looked after all these people and got them to do things without even having to say it directly, now there's a story to keep one occupied for.........47 years.

and the other defense attorneys would have been obligated to put HIM through a very rigorous cross examination

Would they ? They weren't prepared to put any of the 4 defendants through one. Unless it was the strategy to put the hat on Tex, that may not have flown at all.

IF he did NOT testify, they could and would have easily shifted most ALL of the blame on HIM.

One of the most interesting aspects of the initial trial is just how little Tex's name figured in things when it came to the women testifying. They didn't pretend he wasn't there or that he didn't murder but they put the blame for that on Linda giving him drugs that made him freak out. The blame was taken squarely from both Charlie and Tex and put on Linda. I don't think that had much to do with Tex not being there. Linda sank him in the initial trial when he wasn't there and then for good measure, she sank him again at his own trial when he was there. That's why I'm frequently amused when people try to sew those two together as some kind of item. With a lover like that, who needs a prosecution !

AND maybe even "Hasta LaVista Helter Skelter."

In Watson's trial, HS is almost conspicuous in it's absence. It rates a fairly low key, minor mention, if that. HS, like your point about Merrick, only really has legs because of Charles Manson.

Robert Hendrickson said...

Welcome Dreath:

We need a lawyer, a doctor, etc.

I have to ask - when ALL the Manson case defendant's lawyers "rested" without even putting on a "defense" did the Judge NOT have a duty to question "Rest from what ?"

David said...

RH: Nope. The judge is not there as I have heard many say 'to try your case for you'. Unless they are also the fact finder (no jury) their job is to make sure the rules are followed.

PS: I'd turn down a TV spot for 10k.

Unknown said...

Dreath I think you should comment more here lol

Unknown said...

Also Dreath,

Maybe someone with credentials such as yourself can explain to a few of the readers the difference between being granted the right to defend yourself, and abusing the chance you were given and having it revoked...

Is it fair to say in the latter case that you were " Not given a right to defend yourself"

If you are given the right and abuse it to any level you wish- and then have it taken away- can you really still honestly say you were denied the right in the first place?

I wonder what a reasonable mind and educated mind as yourself feels about that?

David said...

Ok, there is a difference between criminal and civil matters. In a civil matter you can represent ourself and no one will try to stop you (and can't). The reason is you have no right to an attorney in a civil matter. The 6th Amendment applies only to criminal matters.

Manson did not actually lose his 'right' to represent himself due to his abuses. Judge Keene was not punishing him. As I believe Keene stated he was revoking his ability to defend himself because he found him to be 'incapable' of doing so and believed it would be a fundamental violation of due process to let him proceed. That is the point: the court has an obligation to make sure due process occurs.

Shorthand version: Judge Keene was actually trying to help Manson. Was he pissed? Sure.

While this may seem like an odd concept while you have a 'right' to represent yourself by doing so you are waiving your 6th Amendment right to counsel. So you need 'permission'.

While this process varies state to state you can only waive this right if you 'knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily' waive it. In other words you have to convince the judge you understand what you are doing and are competent to represent yourself. The process is designed to protect you.

Manson failed the test because of his motions but more importantly because he couldn't argue them (or didn't try) in the hearing when given the opportunity. Essentially Keene said "I can't let this happen in a capital case".

So to answer your question: 'no' its not fair to say you were not given the right to defend yourself. It is fair to say you didn't effectively waive your right to counsel.

And you shouldn't- why? The best appeal is 'ineffective assistance of counsel". You can't raise that on appeal if you represented yourself. I think someone else said this somewhere.

Unknown said...

I love this person :)

He was trying to help Manson. Imagine that.

Thank you very much for the opinion lol

David said...

In his mind/ from his perspective, he was.

Robert Hendrickson said...

The judicial "magic" of the U.S. Constitution can truly be found in words like "and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense."

No mention of representing oneself or being competent ENOUGH to represent oneself, BUT somehow a Judge, (who is usually a lawyer who was NOT competent ENOUGH to compete with actual judicial genius types) is selected to Lord over the MOST important written document EVER created in the history of mankind.

Sorry folks, but apparently Cousin Vinnie is the REAL "man" who actually has the power to MAKE of the "words" what HE wishes. And IF YOU don't like it, you can always PRAY, if you have NO money, or APPEAL if you do.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Great explanation Dreath

Robert Hendrickson said...

Or THINK of it this way - ONLY a competent person can be allowed to "represent" an alleged CRIMINAL, but an incompetent, dimwitted, corrupt, alleged criminal is allowed to "represent" EVERY decent, law-abiding citizen PURSUANT to the U.S. Constitution.

EXCEPT I suspect, NO past or present member of the MANSON Family will ever be allowed to "represent" any American citizen. Like NO representing for YOU !

Matt said...

"He who represents himself has a fool for a client."
- Abraham Lincoln

Unknown said...

Pretty much sums it up in one sentence lol

I just think it is really unfair to blame the system or courts for Charlie and the Girls own foolish choices and behavior. And to say Charlie wasn't afforded the right to represent himself- which many people have argued over the years...

is just not factually true.

He was given the chance. He blew it. A coupe of us seem to also agree, that this was probably in his best interests.

But again- it wouldn't have mattered much who defended him. He had his own agenda, moment in the spotlight, and stage. Charlie was going to put on a show and call the shots period. He fired anyone who got in his way. He had the others fire anyone who got in his way lol...

There was only one person who had any say on the defense for any of them- Charlie.

And keeping the girls out of jail as never given one small thought by Charles Manson.

And no parents, lawyers, fear of jail, or anything else was going to stop the girls from listening to him.

And that cost them their lives for all intents and purposes. But that was nobodys fault or choice but their own...

David said...

Mr. Humphrat: thank you

St. Circumstance: I agree 100%.

Something else didn't help them much....the evidence. As soon as Kasabian identified Watson shooting Steven and everyone else there doing nothing to stop it, they all go to jail. The only question is 'for what'. As soon as she placed Manson and Van Hauten in the car the next night and entering the LaBianca home- they both go to jail, again the only question is for what.

The only possible way they avoid that outcome was to attack Kasabian's testimony and the attorneys either couldn't (due to Manson's control) or didn't (due to their own 'capacity'). She took acid X times doesn't get you anywhere and sounds desperate.

They left a lot of cards on the table following her cross examination, true enough, and those cards could have helped the defense but...... Even if they had done a stellar job they still needed an alternative theory to explain five dead bodies. Now that could have been where putting on a defense and throwing Watson under the bus might have come in.

Mr. H: those who get A's in law school teach. Those who get B's become judges. The rest of us actually practice law.

Unknown said...

Of course the one other thing to point out as well - fairly- is this...

quite a few years later- Leslie got to try again. That second time, she did behave. She did listen to her lawyers. She did say all the correct things and play ball. She dressed nicely and had been living among us in society quite nicely. And even with strategy, cooperation, and better attorneys who had a prepared, willing client...

She was found guilty.

So not all of it was even her own fault. She asked to go out and participate in what she has admitted she knew was going to be a heinous act. She participated in one, and then she made jokes about it and laughed in the faces of her victims families. she showed less than no remorse in her statements to authorities when caught.

Hard for any lawyer to help a client like this under any circumstances I would think.

Shorty's pistols said...

Actually St, LVH got 3 bites at the apple. 1st trial is guilty on all counts. That verdict for LuLu was Death. That finding was reversed on appeal, mainly due to the disappearance of the Late Ronald Hughes. Her second trial was a hung jury...7 voted for 1st degree murder 5 for manslaughter. This brings up the specter of a 3rd trial. Leslie was coming from under the free love, LSD therapy, and psycho philosophy haze she was under in the savage days of Charlie and the troops. She was on the streets, got a square gig and looked all civilian again.

Most normal cases would find the DA offering guilty to manslaughter and LVH pleads out and gets 12 to 20 for Mans. But this was TLB. Kay was worried that Manslaughter was a real possibility & he didn't want to risk taking on Leslie's prosecution with a reduced capacity defense. Leslie's psych evals showed she had some valid head problems and LVH may have skated for reduced capacity. He filed this case in the 3rd trial as murder and Robbery. LVH had taken some cheap dresses and under $9. That makes the nut for murder with the Robbery stipulation. When the charge is murder and robbery, reduced capacity isn't a consideration.

The 3rd trial found her catching a guilty verdict of 1st degree murder WITH the possibility of parole. I've always thought the robbery stipulation was very weak. A cheap dress & 9 bucks is hardly the Brinks job. Leslie's counsel should have gotten the robbery stip tossed out. Then went full bore on the reduced capacity. Nobody knows if the jury would have went for it, but it was a better shot than they had.

Unknown said...

All good fair points Shorty

Robert Hendrickson said...

Well Mr. PISTOLS: IF what YOU say is TRUE, the State of California "District Attorney" CHANGED the motive from Helter Skelter to "robbery" - at least as it concerns the LaBianca massacre.AND Charles Manson. Apparently, contrary to Bugliosi's CLAIM that nobody KNOWS why the LaBianca's, the REAL judicial experts did KNOW.

That's kind'a like "changing" the ISIS "motive" from EVIL terrorist CULT to "concerned Muslim citizens for a new and improved State of Islam."

I THINK this newly raised "issue," at least, deserves some further investigation / documentation before WE all continue spinning OUR "little bobble heads" in multiple directions.

Robert Hendrickson said...

Man, I just can't get the words "robbery / Van Houton" OUT of my mind. How blind I've been when the TRUTHful "evidence" was provided for ALL to SEE by possibly the ONLY honorable and decent lawyer Steven KAY long ago in connection with the TL Murder Case.

AND as D. A. Jackie Lacey has recently written to Jerry Brown " She is still a danger to society."

Of course SHE is - SHE can SHOW the world the dangerous TRUTH - AND so can I.

Unknown said...

So please show us... :)

David said...

Although I have not located the actual 1978 trial it appears from this appeal of her parole denial in 2002 that the DA did not change the motive. He changed the charges by adding felony-murder. California Penal Code section 189. A very good move as you do not have to prove 'premeditation' to murder just 'intent' to commit a burglary/robbery.

"Van Houten intended to inflame Whites against Blacks by leaving a White woman’s body mutilated under circumstances indicating the atrocity had been committed by Blacks. She may not have had the stomach to use her victims’ blood to mark on their walls, but she agreed with the group’s goals and that her crime partners should accomplish those goals, and actively assisted them with the mutilation and avoiding detection." pp. 39-40


"Van Houten argues that she was mentally incapacitated by cult brainwashing such that her individual role, which she asserts was less than that of others, cannot be considered among the most aggravated for first degree murder. To some extent this argument is supported by the prosecution’s decision in the third trial to request a felony- murder instruction so that the jury did not have to unanimously decide beyond a reasonable doubt that Van Houten intended and premeditated the murders." pp. 40

grimtraveller said...

Matt said...

"He who represents himself has a fool for a client."
- Abraham Lincoln

I find that statement of Lincoln's to have a mixture of arrogance, idealism and ignorance to it. Sometimes, those "in the know" really can't see beyond the tip of their noses. The quote makes a great soundbite but utterly fails to recognize that there are some people that might just have valid reasons for representing themselves.

St Circumstance said...

it wouldn't have mattered much who defended him

In a roundabout way, this is what Manson asserted from the start. Rarely commented on yet undeniably so, he met with a number of lawyers before coming to the conclusion that he wanted to represent himself.
There's a connection there.
Also worth considering are the implications of his words to at least two of the Judges he faced in relation to himself and the law. More than once he would refer to any court appointed lawyer as the court's lawyer not his. Even Kanarek whom he chose, he didn't really choose because he was by then in a position whereby he had to take a lawyer even though he was adamant that he did not want one. Defence, jury, police, prosecution, Judge ¬> these were all one and the same to him or more accurately, on the same side. All of the defendants reflected this at one point or another. So feeling he was up against it regardless, it's not surprising that he wanted to defend himself. The Family were an alternative society that really turned its collective back on society where possible and there are good reasons for it in Charlie's case. I suspect his mind went back to the Mum that was meant to look out for him and rather, shipped him off into 'care,' the Dad who should've cared but didn't, the homes and reform schools that should have contained people that cared and yet were abusive and turned a blind eye to the most horrific treatment one could mete out to a boy almost all on his own in the world.....I think he looked at what he felt society had had to offer him for 30 years and concluded, you can keep it !
And that was a reality. No one could represent him because nobody bothered to empathize with him. He was just 'another client in the system.' As he himself said, in jail he had no name; he was a number. So while everything St said was true about him farting about in court, it's not as simple as it appears. There's a whole universe to traverse in coming to grips with why it was so important to him to represent himself. Having been there myself and having that feeling that this person supposedly advocating for me is not representing me, I can see why Manson was insistent on being his own lawyer.

orwhut said...

Lincoln must have been paraphrasing someone else with that lawyer statement.

Robert Hendrickson said...

DREATH: Thanks mucho much. I'll get the Appealate Review, it usually has an coroberating perspective. SO WHY are YOU interested in this old MANSON Case?

This is Criminal and you said you are a civil attorney.

BTW folks, the illustration here shows that a Prosecution attorney can be just as "clever" as a defense attorney. Just NOT enough money in "prosecuting" AS THERE IS IN "defending."

David said...

Robert Hendrickson said:

SO WHY are YOU interested in this old MANSON Case?

Because a couple years ago an old friend who was quite into this asked me to read some old trial testimony for him. I did.

grimtraveller said...

orwhut said...

Lincoln must have been paraphrasing someone else with that lawyer statement

Could well be, but either way, it would probably be quite a profound statement...........if he himself wasn't a lawyer ! It's a bit like a mechanic saying "whoever tries to fix their own car has a fool for a customer."

grimtraveller said...

Robert Hendrickson said...

SHE can SHOW the world the dangerous TRUTH - AND so can I

Do tell !

Unknown said...

I'm a teacher...perhaps we need those, too :-)

Seriously, though, I found this blog a few days ago after a longtime interest in Manson and psychology. This blog is, quite honestly, better than any of the books!

Leyladianne said...

Has anyone looked into the unknown woman at Merrick's funeral? All I remember is that her name was Veronica. A friend of Merrick's said that she was somehow connected to the Hillside Strangler....

Doug said...

Veronica Compton
Acting Student/Attempted Copycat Strangler/Escapee/B-grade Pin-Up

rainercvk said...

I dug up a photograph of Dennis Mignano: