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Thursday, August 26, 1971
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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, THURSDAY, AUGUST 26, 1971, 9:40 A.M.
THE COURT: Good morning.
THE JURORS: Good morning.
THE COURT: Gentlemen.
People against Watson.
Let the record show all jurors are present; all counsel and the defendant are present.
resumed the stand and testified further as follows:
THE CLERK: You have been previously sworn.
Would you retake the stand and state your name for the record?
THE WITNESS: Brooks Poston.
CROSS EXAMINATION (Resumed) BY MR. KEITH
Q: Mr. Poston, at the close of yesterday's session, we were discussing generally your relationship with a gentleman by the name of Paul Crockett; do you remember that?
Q: And Mr. Crockett, I believe you told us, was a prospector or miner living in the Death Valley area; is that correct?
A: He had come there from Carlsbad, New Mexico, and --
Q: And you first met him in -- sometime in the early months of 1969?
Q: And you met him in the Death Valley area?
A: At Barker's Ranch.
Q: And did Mr. Crockett, to your knowledge, also meet Mr. Manson?
Q: And were there conversations, to your knowledge, between Manson and Crockett?
Q: Now, at some time in 1969, did Mr. Crockett tell you that he did not believe what Mr. Manson had been lecturing the family members about?
MR. KAY: Well, that calls for hearsay, your Honor.
THE COURT: I didn't get that question.
THE COURT: Sustained.
Q BY MR. KEITH: At some time in 1969 did you become disenchanted with Mr. Manson's philosophy of life?
Q: Did this come about in some manner through your association with Mr. Crockett? Without going into what he may have told you?
Q: In other words, this was one factor, your association with Mr. Crockett and your disenchantment with Manson's ideas and way of life?
A: I had wanted to leave Charlie for two or three months previous to that but it is like I couldn't do it.
Q: Two or three months previous to what?
A: Previous to the time that I met Mr. Crockett.
Q: Did Mr. Crockett give you some kind of inner strength to oppose Manson or combat him?
A: The way he would talk about the things that Charlie said, in other words, I would be saying the words that Charlie used and he would make it clear to me that he wasn't necessarily going for it.
In other words, that is the first person I had ever seen who hadn't. Just like I figured well, if he doesn't have to go for it, why should I?
Q: So your answer to my question was sort of an explanation. Now, I will ask it again; Did Mr. Crockett assist you in your eventual disenchantment with Mr. Manson?
A: Yes, after asking him for help.
Q: So in September 1969, when you were asked by Manson to kill the sheriff in Shoshonee, what was your state of mind regarding Mr. Manson at that time? Do you understand the question?
A: How do you mean?
Q: All right. I suppose I can put it more directly.
At that time you had realized that Mr. Manson was not all he was cracked up to be?
Q: You were not under his control in September 1969. Would that be a fair statement?
THE COURT: Did Manson ever tell you why he wanted you to kill this sheriff in Shoshonee?
THE WITNESS: Yes. He said "If you are with us."
THE COURT: "If you are with us." Do you know whether he had ever met the sheriff up there?
THE WITNESS: Yes, I had met him.
THE COURT: I mean Manson.
THE WITNESS: Manson? I don't know. I think he might have during the floods that happened there. They were stuck down in Shoshonee and I think the sheriff ran them off.
THE COURT: I see. Thank you. Go ahead, Mr. Keith.
Q BY MR. KEITH: Going to another subject, Mr. Poston, I would like to get the chronology of your experiences in the Manson family, because it is sometimes confusing about who went where and when.
You first met Manson at Dennis Wilson's; is that right?
Q: And this was when you came down with Dean Moorehouse?
Q: And this was in June or so of 1969?
Q: And did you meet Mr. Watson at Dennis Wilson's?
A: No, I didn't.
Q: When was the first time you ever saw Mr. Watson, the defendant here?
A: Approximately in August of 1968 at Spahn's Ranch.
Q: All right; so did you stay at Dennis Wilson's?
Q: You, yourself?
Did you ever stay at a location in Topanga Canyon in a house or motor van or some structure?
Q: So you moved directly from Dennis Wilson's to Spahn's Ranch?
A: Yes, except for that time that I told you about the fire road; but that was only like two or three hours there.
Q: Yes; and you stayed at Spahn's Ranch from when to when?
A: From about the 3rd or 4th week in June of '68 to October 31, '68.
Q: How do you fix the date at October 31; did some event happen that sticks in your mind or what?
A: It was just some of the girls were talking about it being Halloween.
Q: About what?
A: They were talking about it being Halloween.
Q: Did you ever see -- let's stick to this chronology subject: Then you went to Barker Ranch in Death Valley; is that correct?
Q: From Spahn's Ranch?
Q: Did you ever return to Spahn's Ranch after October 31, 1968?
A: In December of 1969.
Q: And did you live continuously in the desert from October 31, '68 to December '69?
Q: Did you go anywhere while you were living at Barker Ranch for any extended period with any of the family members?
Q: Do you understand the question?
When you said you didn't live continuously at the Barker Ranch from the end of October to December '69, do you mean by that you took little trips, places, or did you mean that --
A: Are you talking October 31, '68 to December '69?
A: I went for about one month to the Gresham Street house in Canoga Park and about the second week of January '69 through till the third week of February of '69, then back to Barker's Ranch; and I stayed there except for about a week in August of '68 -- I mean '69 -- and I went to Kingman, Arizona and then back to Barker's Ranch, when I moved to Shoshonee.
Q: How far is Shoshonee from Barker's? You may have told us.
A: About 67 miles.
Q: At Gresham Street for this month period was Manson there?
Q: And some of the girls were there?
Q: Did you see Mr. Watson there?
Q: Did you see very much of Mr. Watson at all during your life with the family?
A: Not a great deal.
Q: Would you consider yourself close to the defendant, Mr. Watson, a close friend?
A: What I saw of him I liked.
Q: I understand that, but let me put it --
A: But not close friends.
Q: Let me put it in simpler language: Did you pal around with him?
Q: Mr. Watson wasn't at the Barker Ranch all the time you were there, was he?
Q: Would you say you stayed at the Barker Ranch longer --
Q: -- then any other member of the family?
Q: Except, perhaps, for Paul Watkins; was he with you all the time?
Q: Where were you at the time Manson told you to die, if he told you to die?
A: Well, there was more than one time.
Q: I'm sorry, I thought there was only once.
How many times did Manson tell you to die?
A: About 20 times.
Q: As a result of one of Manson's exhortations that you die, didn't you actually try to die?
A: Well, that was what I was doing for about two months, when he told me to die and I expected to die, because it's what he told me to do.
Q: When you say you were doing this for two months, were you at Barker Ranch at that time or elsewhere?
A: About a week or a week and a half, maybe two weeks before we went to Barker's Ranch on October 31, '68, we took a great big acid trip.
Q: Who is "we"?
A: The family.
Q: Was the acid trip taken in sort of a group setting?
A: Yes. And it turned out to be a pretty big freakout. In other words, people were floundering around and jumping in the fireplace and breaking windows and breaking mirrors.
Q: Everyone was on acid so far as you knew?
Q: How many people were involved in the freakout, would you say? Just your best estimate?
A: I don't really know. There was about --
Q: Would there have been as many as 20 or 10?
A: There was probably about 10 to 15 people.
Q: Was Mr. Watson, if you recall, participating in the freakout?
A: I don't think he was.
Q: Could you describe the freakout to us? You started to and then I am afraid I interrupted and asked you how many people were present.
A: Describe the freakout?
Q: If you can't, you can't.
A: People were laying in the fireplace. People were yelling and hollering. Just like they took two tabs -- we took tabs of acid and it came on really strong.
Q: When you say "we," so far as you know everyone took two tabs of acid?
A: Yes. I saw it passed out, handed out, and furniture was torn up, overturned.
Some of the water faucets in the ranch out there were left on. There was water all over the floor.
People were falling in and out of the fireplace. Somebody would lay in the fireplace and somebody would pull them out.
There were people on the floor moaning in agony, it sounded like, and people were hitting each other, biting each other. They were tearing up the mirrors, walls, the windows.
Q: Sounds like one big orgy.
Q: Sounds like one big orgy.
A: An orgy?
Q: Yes. Do you know what that means?
A: That wasn't my idea of an orgy.
Q: All right.
THE COURT: Can you fix the time again for us, please, when this occurred?
THE WITNESS: About two weeks before -- about the second week in October of '68.
Q BY MR. KEITH: All right.
Now, we were discussing Manson telling you to die.
A: Uh-huh. I haven't forgotten.
Q: All right.
So go ahead with your recitation.
A: After that, that was about the heaviest acid trip I ever took and all along in front of this Charlie had been telling me to give it up, you know, at various times, because it is all in your imagination. It is not real. Nothing is real. Nothing matters.
And like all of a sudden I began to see it that way and I started seeing Charlie as when he would say to give it up, that he really meant it. He wasn't kidding.
And believing pretty firmly that he was Jesus Christ, that is what I thought I should do, and so I started taking more acid because I figured acid would be the easiest way because I figured if you get so stoned on acid you would just die.
So I started taking acid and I took, for about a week straight, I took a tab -- maybe a couple of times it was one day and then the next day and then I would skip a day and take another tab and then skip a day and take another tab and that went on for about, oh, I guess five days.
Q: Then what happened?
A: Then was the time that I laid on the couch, you know, that I am supposed to have laid there for three days.
Q: But you don't know how long you laid there? You have to answer out loud.
And while I laid down on the couch, once before that, and I was looking at Charlie and I could feel like a vacuum cleaner -- it is the only way I can describe it -- he was laying down on the couch facing me and I was laying down on the couch and while I was looking at him, it was like everything inside my head was being sucked out and drawn toward him and I fought because I wasn't sure that I wanted to let it go and somehow I got out of that one.
Q: You didn't.
A: I didn't do it. I didn't give it up and after that it is like that I was, I don't know, I was one-pointed, that was the thing I was supposed to do so far as I knew to die, to physically die.
Charlie told me to die and the only kind I ever saw was when my father died and when he died, boy, he died.
Q: Did you ever hear Charlie tell any other members of the family, that is Charlie Manson, tell any other members of the family they ought to die?
A: Oh, yes. Asked them if they died yet.
Q: How would they respond? In varying ways?
A: I remember one time in Barker's Ranch somewhere I think in December or November of '68 and Cupid and Clem and Paul Watkins and myself and Charlie were in the smaller house. There are two houses at Barker's Ranch.
Q: And what happened on this occasion?
A: And he went down the line and he said, "Have you died?" And he asked Paul and Paul said, "Yes."
And he says, "Have you died?" and he asked Clem and he asked Cupid and he asked me; and obviously I hadn't died, so I said, "No."
Q: Then what happened, if anything?
A: Well, that it's like -- now, it seems like those guys lied.
Q: But did Charlie do anything -- Manson do anything to you when you told him you hadn't died?
A: He said, "Are you afraid to die?"
I said, "Yeah."
Q: Was that the end of that episode or --
A: Well, it was pretty close, because he didn't like fear in one of the people that was supposed to be living with him; he wanted them to get rid of it all.
Q: Did Mr. Manson do anything specific to try to draw the fears out of the members of the family?
A: Yes, scare you to death.
Q: And how did he scare them to death, if you know?
A: Well, I don't know how he did it with each one of those others, individually.
Q: You can't tell us what you didn't see; just what did he do to you?
A: Well, with me every time he'd come around, it was like the teacher was back in school, like when you were a little kid and the teacher goes out of the room, everybody starts yelling and hollering and having a good time; the teacher comes back in and everyone settles down and gets quiet.
And it's like every time he would leave, I would feel relieved, I would feel like, boy, I've got another two days I can live; then he would come back and all he would have to do was just look at me and sometimes he'd say, "Are you still thinking?" and "Haven't you given up your thoughts?" and "You have to die so that you can live" -- until I was convinced that I had to die.
Q: All right. Now, was there something about Mr. Manson's eyes that were unusual, in your opinioin?
I will put it to you --
THE COURT: Well, let him think; let him answer it.
Did you understand the question?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
Q BY MR. KEITH: I don't mean some physical defect --
A: I know. To me it is like he had very penetrating eyes, because when he would really stare at you, concentrate at you, it's like he could look through you.
Q: How many acid experiences do you think you have had, Mr. Poston?
A: About 20.
Q: And did that all take place at the Spahn Ranch or also at the Barker Ranch?
A: Also at Barker Ranch.
Q: Your heaviest acid experiences were during the week when you were trying to die; is that a fair statement?
Q: Did you see acid available at the ranch?
Q: I shouldn't say "at the ranch"; let me put it --
A: Spahn's Ranch.
Q: Did you see it there?
Q: And was it kept in any particular place, sort of a communal grab bag or --
A: No, they would give it to one of the girls to go stash someplace, or Charlie would give it to one of the girls.
Q: To your knowledge, was acid available at any time for anybody that wanted it?
A: As far as I know; only Charlie liked to keep, you know, pretty strict rules. He wanted everybody to take acid together.
Q: Was acid taken together?
Q: You have told us about one incident where there was a freakout. Were there other incidents or instances when you were present when acid was taken communally?
Q: Was this at the Spahn's Ranch?
A: Spahn's Ranch and Barker's Ranch.
Q: Did you know of any other drugs being supplied to the members of the family besides LSD?
Q: Anything else?
A: Marijuana, hashish; I think once there was opium.
Q: Have you ever heard of a drug psilocybin?
A: I've heard of it; I don't know that it was there.
Q: Have you ever heard of THC?
A: Synthetic grass? Once.
Q: That is the THC?
A: That's the synthetic grass, as far as I know.
Q: How about the MDA; have you ever heard of that drug?
Q: Have you ever seen -- do you know what speed is?
Q: Did you ever take any speed, yourself?
Q: While you were with the family?
Q: You don't know whether or not there was any speed at the Barker Ranch or Spahn Ranch or Dennis Wilson's, or anywhere else you were with the family?
A: No; Charlie didn't want any of that type.
Q: Manson didn't like downers, isn't that correct, seconal, sleeping pills?
A: As far as I know, yeah.
Q: He didn't like people to come around the farm -- the ranch, with downers, did he?
A: I don't believe he approved of it.
Q: Downers are what, in your estimation?
A: A downer is something that will make you --
A: Well, I don't know if it would depress you, but somewhat sluggish to where you couldn't respond too actively.
Q: You told us yesterday that you believed you were quite gullible, if you recall?
Q: Do you believe the acid may have made you even more gulliable?
MR. KAY: Calls for a conclusion, your Honor.
THE COURT: I think he can answer that. What effect did this acid have on you?
THE WITNESS: I would say that the acid did have an effect in that way. I was pretty naive, anyway, because I talked to Dean Moorehouse and he told me some of the things that Charlie told him and I hadn't taken acid and it sounded good to me.
Q BY MR. KEITH: With you, the acid made it even sound better; is that right?
A: Yeah, more real.
Q: Now, did you observe any changes in Mr. Watson at all from the first time you saw him until the last time you saw him?
A: How do you mean, changes -- like physical?
Q: Physical changes.
A: Physically, his hair grew longer and he had a beard. The first time I saw him, he didn't have a beard, and he had a beard then at Barker's, September; and he got rid of it.
Q: Did you ever see Mr. Watson strike anybody or threaten to hurt anybody?
Q: Did you ever see Mr. Watson act, oh, aggressively towards anybody -- do you know what I mean, sort of domineering or assertive?
Q: Did you ever see Mr. Watson work on Charlie Manson's vehicles, the dune buggies --
Q: -- and the trucks and so forth?
When he wasn't doing that, he was just goofing around; is that right?
A: Well, if you are talking about the dune buggies, the only time I saw those was in September, when he wasn't at Barker's Ranch.
Q: September what year?
A: '69; when he wasn't at Barker's Ranch doing that, I don't know where he was.
Q: So you saw him at Barker's Ranch working on the dune buggies?
Q: When were the dune buggies first brought to Barker's Ranch?
A: Tex and Bruce and Brenda came up with a rail dune buggy.
Q: By Tex you are referring to Mr. Watson?
A: Yes, right at the first of September of '69, and that was the first time one of the dune buggies came up and they left a couple of days later and came back in the same dune buggy and then a few other dune buggies started arriving along with a Toyota, a jeep, and there was a blue sparkled one, a really bright yellow dune buggy, another sort of off-yellow one.
I am not sure which one of them they retouched, camouflaged it, but there were to my knowledge about three dune buggies besides the rail job.
THE COURT: Rail job?
THE WITNESS: Rail. It doesn't have a body on it, just made with rails and roll bars and things.
Q BY MR. KEITH: Were the dune buggies used primarily to try and locate the bottomless pit or did they have other functions also?
A: Well, I think what they were going to do, they were going to use them to move with.
Charlie said that they would go from place to place. They would stay in one place for a couple of days and then move, that they would move at night, preferably with a full moon night, because then you wouldn't have to use lights and airplanes coming over wouldn't be able to see you.
Q: Was this after the revolution had started?
A: No. I think that was then because Charlie came into the yard a few times in dune buggies at night, you know, when they were in process of changing camps and at least that is what he said they were doing. They were used to bring supplies up the wash too.
Q: I think you told us yesterday, didn't you, that dune buggies were used to go about Death Valley looking for the bottomless pit?
Q: Didn't you say that?
Did Charlie ever tell you that -- strike that -- people at Barker's Ranch did, however, engage in looking for the bottomless pit, didn't they?
A: They were looking for the hole. Charlie said everything was holes, that the whole world was a hole. The sun was a hole in the sky.
That since everything was a hole of some sort or another, and that he was a hole in the infinite, through which God talked, that all his thoughts or all the words that he said were not his but of God -- that the logical solution would be the hole, to find the hole that goes down into the city, the golden city underneath the ground, and it talks about it in the Revelations.
Q: The people up there were looking for the hole?
Q: Did you ever see Mr. Manson perform what you would term miracles?
A: Fooled me, but other -- no, no miracles, other than telling Dean Moorehouse could live forever, which necessarily can't be classified as a miracle.
Q: Did you know Juanita Wildbush or Wildberry? I can never get it.
A: It was Wildbush. Now it is Berry.
Q: All right.
MR. BUGLIOSI: Wildberry?
THE WITNESS: No, just plain Berry.
MR. BUGLIOSI: Berry?
THE WITNESS: Yes.
MR. BUGLIOSI: Dropped the bush.
Q BY MR. KEITH: Do you know anything about a transaction where she gave Mr. Manson some money?
A: Only what I heard on that one, on that situation that she gave Charlie a great deal of money and a camper, a Dodge camper.
Q: Was this at Barker Ranch?
A: No. That was at Spahn Ranch.
Q: Were you there at the time when that occurred?
A: I was at Spahn's. That was just a short time before -- well, I guess about three or four weeks before we left to go to Barker's.
Q: This would have been in October of '68?
A: It was September '68, I think September to October.
MR. KEITH: I have no further questions.
REDIRECT EXAMINATION BY MR. BUGLIOSI
Q: Was this Juanita a schoolteacher at one time?
A: Well, I have heard that she taught school in Roswell, New Mexico, but that was after she left the family. She said she came from New Jersey and her father was some sort of a lawyer, some sort -- not a trial lawyer but a corporation lawyer, and she had been living in Mexico and she had a boyfriend down there that she was going to go back to see and she was traveling through, to go back down there, when she picked up a couple of girls from the family and they brought her to Spahn's.
Q: When Manson explained to you -- just a few more questions -- when Manson explained to you about how helter-skelter was going to start in February 1969 at the Gresham Street address, Tex Watson wasn't there at that time, was he?
Q: Do you know where he was?
A: I heard that he was with his lawyer settling an insurance settlement of some kind.
Q: You eventually left Barker's in October 1969 because of what? You were fed up with the family?
A: Yes. I was tired of what was going on up there. I wanted to get out of it and besides that the police told us to walk out and inform them the next time Charlie came to the ranch.
Q: Do you know a man by the name of Bill Vance?
Q: Did Bill live with the family for a while?
A: For a couple -- well, about a week, I guess. He stayed at the Gresham Street house but while I was around he never really lived there.
Q: What about at the Spahn Ranch?
A: At the Spahn Ranch I assumed that he lived with the family. I don't know because I wasn't there when he was there.
Q: What type of a relationship with Manson?
A: I don't think he was completely subservient to Charlie.
Q: Why do you say that?
A: Well, Bill was as old or older. It seemed like he was about five or six years older than Charlie and he was a great big guy.
Q: About six two?
A: At least and seemed like he had his own trip going on; in other words, he had his own -- he was still working at the ranch, and he was working at Spahn's Ranch.
The Gresham Street house so far as I know was Bill Vance's. That is where we got that house and he was working at the ranch, to take over the ranch again from George, was to get the family reinstated there and I have heard that he was interested in robbing.
Q: Commit robberies?
A: Robberies and burglaries and things like that.
Q: On his own?
Q: Independent of Charlie?
Q: You felt he wasn't completely subservient to Charlie?
A: I don't think he was.
Q: What about Bruce Davis? Have you ever heard of a man named Bruce Davis?
Q: Bruce was a member of the family; right?
A: So far as I know he was, yes.
Q: And he lived at Spahn Ranch with the family for a while?
A: I don't know. I assumed that he did.
Q: Was Bruce with the family up at Barker Ranch?
Q: In September and October of 1969?
A: In September, yes. When I was there, he was with the family.
Q: Describe or explain the relationship between Bruce Davis and Charles Manson.
A: It seemed to me that Bruce was competing with Charlie. He was trying to be an equal with Charlie or even he -- he was loud-mouthed.
Whereas when Charlie would generally speak most of the people in the family would keep silent and listen, unless he asked them something directly or he said, "What do you think," or, "Say something."
But Bruce would interrupt Charlie when he was talking and he talked in a real loud voice, and it seemed like that he like the power that he had when Charlie wasn't around because he could have one of the girls run and fetch him something.
Q: You got the impression that Bruce Davis wasn't subservient to Charlie either?
A: It seemed to me that he had more ego than any of the other guys I ever saw there. So that he hadn't given it up to Charlie.
MR. BUGLIOSI: Thank you. No further questions.
RECROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR. KEITH
Q: Was Watson subservient to Charlie?
A: I never knew him to disobey anything that Charlie said.
MR. KEITH: I have nothing further.
MR. BUGLIOSI: No further questions.
THE COURT: Thank you, sir. You may be excused.