One of America's most sensational trials is to reach a conclusion later this week. Exactly?
SV TRACKING SHOT..police lead Manson into courtroom
SV TRACKING SHOT..police lead accused girls into court
AERIAL V..Tate home and bodies under sheets (4 shots)
TGV Movie ranch and SV PAN.. (2 shots)
SV Man and girl talking, ZOOM out to girl and baby
SV Girl and baby with pony
GV "Superior Court" sign
LV ZOOM INTO SV.. police lead Manson into court
SV Linda Kasabian with lawyers at press conference
SV TRACKING SHOT.. Manson being led into court
Initials JH/EML/ES.1540 JH/EML/ES.1430
Available on BVU news features computation NX008
EDITORS: PLEASE NOTE THIS FILM IS NOT FOR USE UNTIL THE JURY HAS REACHED ITS VERDICT.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: One of America's most sensational trials is to reach a conclusion later this week. Exactly seven months after the trial of hippie leader Charles Manson and three of his girl followers for the Sharon Tate murders began, the prosecution made the final summing up. On Friday (15 January), the jury went out to decide the verdict, and a decision is expected this week.
Manson, 36, leader of an allegedly death-oriented cult, has been the accused mastermind of the murders of actress Sharon Tate and four others at her Hollywood mansion in August, 1969, and of murdering a supermarket owner and his wife the following night. Two girl followers have also been on trial for similar charges: Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, both 22. A fourth defendant, 21-year-old Leslie Van Houton, has been charged with being involved only in the later killings.
Manson and his co-defendants were arrested after the trial led police to the disused movie ranch only miles from the Tate home, used as headquarters for the Manson clan called "The Family". The ranch, once a location for Hollywood Westerns, was used as a home Manson and his followers. When Manson was arrested, other members of "The Family" told reporters that he was being victimised by a society which did not understand him.
Although Manson first appeared in court in January last year, the actual trial did not begin until last summer. During the trial, the jury had to sift through nearly 300 items of evidence, including guns, knives and a blood-stained rope from which Miss Tate's body was found dangling.
One of those originally arrested for the Tate murders, 21-year-old linda Kasabian, was granted immunity for her testimony as one of the primary prosecution witnesses. She was allegedly a look-out during the killings. She described the alleged murders during her 18 days on the stand.
The closing prosecution address ended a string of almost daily drams, punctuated with disruptions and clashes between the accused, lawyers on both sides, and the Judge. A defence lawyer disappeared under mysterious circumstances and President Nixon even took part by declaring at a press conference that Manson was guilty directly or indirectly of the murders.
In December, the four defendant were barred from the courtroom for interrupting the case.
The prosecutor wound up by saying that Sharon Tate's husband, film director Roman Polanski, could not have conceived of "a more monstrous, macabre, and nightmarish scene of human terror and massacre".
If the jurors have brought in a first degree murder verdict, they will now have to decide whether the accused are sent to their deaths in the gas chamber or receive life in jail.