Tate-LaBianca Murder Trial
(Defendant Charles Manson testified on November 20, 1970 outside of the presence of the jury. When asked after his testimony whether he would now like to testify before the jury, Manson replied, "I have all ready relieved all of the pressure that I had.")
There has been a lot of charges and a lot of things said about me and brought against the co-defendants in this case, of which a lot could be cleared up and clarified. . . .
I never went to school, so I never growed up to read and write too good, so I have stayed in jail and I have stayed stupid, and I have stayed a child while I have watched your world grow up, and then I look at the things that you do and I don't understand. . . .
You eat meat and you kill things that are better than you are, and then
you say how bad, and even killers, your children
These children that come at you with knives. they are your children. You taught them. I didn't teach them. I just tried to help them stand up. . . .
Most of the people at the ranch that you call the Family were just people that you did not want, people that were alongside the road, that their parents had kicked out, that did not want to go to Juvenile Hall. So I did the best I could and I took them up on my garbage dump and I told them this: that in love there is no wrong. . . .
I told them that anything they do for their brothers and sisters is good if they do it with a good thought. . . .
I was working at cleaning up my house, something that Nixon should have been doing. He should have been on the side of the road, picking up his children, but he wasn't. He was in the White House, sending them off to war. . . .
I don't understand you, but I don't try. I don't try to judge nobody. I know that the only person I can judge is me . . . But I know this: that in your hearts and your own souls, you are as much responsible for the Vietnam war as I am for killing these people. . . .
I can't judge any of you. I have no malice against you and no ribbons for you. But I think that it is high time that you all start looking at yourselves, and judging the lie that you live in.
I can't dislike you, but I will say this to you: you haven't got long before you are all going to kill yourselves, because you are all crazy. And you can project it back at me . . . but I am only what lives inside each and everyone of you.
My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system. . . I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you.
I have ate out of your garbage cans to stay out of jail. I have wore your second-hand clothes. . . I have done my best to get along in your world and now you want to kill me, and I look at you, and then I say to myself, You want to kill me? Ha! I'm already dead, have been all my life. I've spent twenty-three years in tombs that you built.
Sometimes I think about giving it back to you; sometimes I think about
just jumping on you and letting you shoot me . . . If I could, I would
jerk this microphone off and beat your brains out with it, because that
is what you deserve, that is what
If I could get angry at you, I would try to kill everyone of you. If
that's guilt, I accept it . . .These children, everything they
If I showed them that I would do anything for my brother--including
giving my life for my brother on the battlefield--and
These children [indicating the female defendants] were finding themselves.
What they did, if they did whatever they did, is
It's all your fear. You look for something to project it on, and you
pick out a little old scroungy nobody that eats out of a
You expect to break me? Impossible! You broke me years ago. You killed me years ago. . . .
[Judge Older asked Manson if he had anything further to say.]
I have killed no one and I have ordered no one to be killed. I may have implied on several different occasions to several different people that I may have been Jesus Christ, but I haven't decided yet what I am or who I am. Some called him Christ, Manson said. In prison his name was a number. Some now want a sadistic fiend, and so they see him as that. So be it. Guilty. Not guilty. They are only words. You can do anything you want with me, but you cannot touch me because I am only my love. . . If you put me in the penitentiary, that means nothing because you kicked me out of the last one. I didn't ask to get released. I liked it in there because I like myself.
[ Judge Older told Manson, "You seem to be getting far afield." He told Manson to stick to the issue raised in the trial.]
The issues? . . . Mr. Bugliosi is a hard-driving prosecutor, polished
education, a master of words, semantics. He is a genius. He has got everything
that every lawyer would want to have except one thing: a case. He doesn't
have a case. Were I allowed to defend myself, I could have
proven this to you. . .The evidence in this case is a gun. There was a
Danny DeCarlo. . .said that I hate black men, and he said that we thought
alike. . . But actually all I ever did with Danny
[Linda Kasabian] gets on the stand and she says when she looked in that
man's eyes that was dying, she knew that it was
[I taught the Family] not to be weak and not to lean on me. . . .I told [Paul Watkins],"To be a man, boy, you have to stand up and be your own father." So he goes off to the desert and finds a father image in Paul Crockett. . . .
I do feel some responsibility. I feel a responsibility for the pollution.
I feel a responsibility for the whole thing. . . .To be
I haven't got any guilt about anything because I have never been able
to see any wrong. . . I have always said: Do what
Cross-examination by Vincent Bugliosi:
Q. You say you are already dead, is that right, Charlie?
[ Kanarek objected and Judge Older sustained the objection. Older asked
Manson if he now wished to testify before the