Friday, October 27, 1978
LIFE TERM PAROLE CONSIDERATION HEARING
STATE OF CALIFORNIA
COMMUNITY RELEASE BOARD
In The Matter of The Life Term Parole Consideration of:
CDC No. B-37999
CALIFORNIA MEN'S COLONY
SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIFORNIA
OCTOBER 27, 1978
Mr. R. Pizarro, Presiding Member
Mr. R. DeLeon, Board Member
Mr. R. Del Pesco, Hearing Representative
Mr. Charles Watson, Inmate
Mr. A. Edwin Olpin, Attorney for Inmate Watson
Mr. Stephen R. Kay, Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles County
Ms. Mary Neiswender, Assistand City Editor, Independent Press-Telegram
Mr. Brian Taugher, Chief Counsel, Community Release Board
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: This is the parole consideration hearing for Charles Watson, Number B-37999, who was received in the Department of Corrections on or about November 7, 1971, the committing county being the County of Los Angeles, Number A-253156 is the case number, the MEPD being November 26, 1976.
There were eight counts in this commitment. Count Number I was a conviction of murder one, violation of P.C. 187, the victim being Abigail Ann Folger. Count Number II, murder one, the victim being Mr. Frykowski; Count Number III, murder one, victim being Steven Earl Parent; Count Number IV, murder one, victim being Sharon Marie Polanski; Count Number V, murder one, victim being Jay Sebring; Count Number VI, murder one, the victim being Leno LaBianca; Count Number VII, murder one, victim being Rosemary LaBianca. Count Number VIII is a conspiracy. It refers to Mr. Watson and his crime partners conspiring to kill the victims of Count I through VII.
Mr. Watson, as you can see, this hearing is being transcribed.
INMATE WATSON: Yes, I can.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: So for the purpose of the record, let me state that today's date is the 27th of October, 1978. The time now is approximately five minutes to nine a.m. We are at the California Men's Colony at or near San Luis Obispo, California.
I am going to ask everyone to identify himself for the purpose of the record. We'll start with Mr. DeLeon. We'll go around to Mr. DeLeon's right.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: Rudy DeLeon, D-e-L-e-o-n, I'm a member of the Community Release Board.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: And my name is Ralph Pizarro, P-i-z-a-r-r-o. I'm a member of the Community Release Board.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: I'm Robert Del Pesco, D-e-l P-e-s-c-o. I'm a hearing representative of the Community Release Board.
INMATE WATSON: I'm Charles Watson, W-a-t-s-o-n, Inmate, California Men's Colony.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Give us your B number.
INMATE WATSON: B-37999.
MR. OLPIN: My name is Ed Olpin, attorney for Mr. Watson.
MR. KAY: My name is Stephen Kay. I am a Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles.
MS. NEISWENDER: I'm Mary Neiswender with the Los Angeles Independent Press-Telegram.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: I gather that both you gentlemen know of Miss Neiswender's presence and the new rules of the Community Release Board which allow the newspaper people and the press to be present. And I gather neither one of you have any legal objections to that.
MR. OLPIN: No objection.
MR. KAY: No objection.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. Watson, this hearing is being conducted pursuant to Penal Code Sections 3041 and 3042 and the regulations of the Community Release Board governing parole consideration hearing for life prisoners. The purpose of today's hearing is to consider your suitability for parole. It is necessary for us to conduct this hearing under the revised procedures enacted by the Legislature effective July 1, '77, which apply to all prisoners under a life sentence.
We will be considering the number and the nature of the crimes for which you were committed to the state prison, your criminal history or the lack of it prior to that commitment, and your behavior since your commitment. We will reach a decision today and inform you whether you are suitable for parole or not and why, and if you are found suitable, the length of confinement and the line of reasoning that we used to arrive at it. In rather simple language, Mr. Watson, one, are you suitable for parole. Are you an unreasonable risk to society. Item number two, if you are suitable, then what should be the length of confinement.
INMATE WATSON: Okay.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: That's the whole focus of this particular hearing. The panel is going to have to first of all consider this whole question of suitability, because there is not much sense in spending time talking about a length of confinement unless you are suitable first of all. So that's in the panel's mind as we are processing through this.
We ask the next question of Mr. Olpin, with reference to timely notice, and inquire whether you had an opportunity to be prepared, Mr. Olpin, to discuss the matter with Mr. Watson, to see the C File, and if there is any reason now why we should not proceed with this hearing.
MR. OLPIN: As far as notice is concerned, I received ample notice. I have had a chance to talk to Mr. Watson earlier, to review his file. And there is no reason why we cannot proceed.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Is this noise irritating to either one of you people?
MR. KAY: No, it's all right.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. DeLeon?
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: No.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Let me say to all present that we have no confidential information in connection with this matter.
I want to also say to you, Mr. Watson, and you, Mr. Olpin -- and I say this right now so I won't forget to say it at the tailend of the hearing -- is that you do have a right to appeal. CRB rules, starting with Section 2050 and thereafter, tell you the process.
Secondly, and this is covered by the Penal Code Section 3042(b), any decision that we make today, whatever it may be, is not effective for 60 days.
I want to say to you, too, Mr. Watson, that you are not required to discuss this matter with this panel. It would be rather difficult to know you as a person and a human being if you do not, but I don't want these comments to coerce you. That is something that you and Mr. Olpin must discuss together and make a decision. And if you feel that it is to your best interest not to, then, of course, we would arrive at a judgement in your case with the packet and the information and the presentations that are made here today.
Mr. Olpin, has a decision been made as to whether Mr. Watson will testify?
MR. OLPIN: Yes. We have discussed that together, and he will be talking to the panel.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Why don't we administer an oath now so we get that out of the way so we don't forget it.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: Raise your right hand. (Thereupon Inmate Watson was, by Hearing Representative Del Pesco, sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.)
INMATE WATSON: I do.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: The procedure that we will follow will be that we will break the hearing up into essentially three parts. The first part I will chair and will be dealing with Mr. Watson's priors and the offense which brings him into the state prison. The second part of the hearing will be his so-called post-conviction factors, which is the in-prison conduct. We are talking now, about disciplinaries, the extent of his education, the vocational education, the psychiatric reports dealing with mental or psychiatric stability, the work reports, any self-help programs, any other kinds of things that he may have done in the institution, all with the idea of enhancing ability to live within the law upon his release. Mr. Del Pesco will lead the discussion in that area.
Then when everybody has more or less had their say, so to speak, in this area, then we'll go on to the third area, which is the parole planning. And we realize, Mr. Watson, that it is hard to plan without a date. We know that.
INMATE WATSON: Right.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: But we also would like to explore with you some of the things that might be beneficial to you: where you plan to live; where would you work; how would you make a living; these kinds of things; booze, drugs, so forth. And, as I say, we realize that it is hard to plan.
Then we will give the attorneys an opportunity to make some closing comments. Hopefully, we would ask that the thrust of these comments be pointed toward two items: one, the suitability factor; secondly, the length of confinement. Mechanically, we will let Mr. Kay first speak, and then we will close with Mr. Olpin.
After that is done, then we'll recess the hearing for the panel to arrive at a judgment. You will wait outside, Mr. Watson. We'll call you back in and tell you what that decision is. Then a few days after that the CRB will send you a formalized piece of paper telling you essentially what, in writing, we are telling you today orally.
Are there any questions as to the mechanics of this matter then?
MR. KAY: Not for me.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. Olpin, are we together?
MR. OLPIN: Yeah.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: All right. Now, let me ask the panel if I may have forgotten to say anything pertaining to proper foundation to this hearing. Sometimes I don't say everything that should be said.
Mr. DeLeon, did I forget anything, sir?
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: No.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Then, as we said, we'll go into the heart of the hearing. We'll go into the first part, which is the present offense and the priors. I'll ask then Mr. Kay to make a presentation in that area, please.
MR. KAY: All right. As you are probably aware, I was one of the two prosecutors that prosecuted Mr. Watson for the eight offense here. And I'm very familiar with the facts of the case, having prosecuted the Tate-LaBianca murders four times. And I'm very familiar with Mr. Watson's part in these murders.
The events started on Friday, August the 8th, 1969, as far as these murders are concerned. Actually the events that led to these murders probably started somewhat earlier with Charles Manson and Mr. Watson and other members of the family. There had been talk about murder in the family for some time. Once they wanted to start a black/white revolution. And the Tate murders were kind of the culmination of that. They were going to be horrendous murders that could be blamed on the Blacks, so that the whites would start killing the Blacks in retribution for the murders.
On the evening of August 8th, 1969, Charles Manson told Mr. Watson to go to the Tate residence, although he did not call it the Tate residence because none of the members of the family, based on the evidence, knew any of the people that lived there at the time. They -- Mr. Watson and Mr. Manson had been to that Tate residence earlier when Mr. Melcher, Terry Melcher, Doris Day's son, live there. He had moved out in January of 1969. Mr. Manson wanted to become a recording artist, and Mr. Melcher refused to sign him under contract as a recording artist. And Mr. Manson was very upset at this. And I feel that that was probably why the Tate house was selected, although Manson knew that Melcher no longer lived there. But it was supposed to be kind of a message for Mr. Melcher that there but for the grace of God go you.
Anyway, so Mr. Manson told Mr. Watson to go to the residence at 10050 Cielo Drive and to kill everyone there. He did not give Watson any instructions as to how to do it or what to do once he was there, based on the evidence. Manson told Linda Kasabian, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel to go with Mr. Watson and to do what Mr. Watson told them to do.
On the trip to the Tate house from Spahn Ranch, where Manson and Mr. Watson and other members of the family lived, Mr. Watson drove and drove directly to the Cielo Drive address. While they were driving, Mr. Watson told the girls that he knew the layout of the place, that he had been there before, and that they were to do exactly what he told them to do. Each one of the girls had a knife. Mr. Watson had a gun, a 9-inch Buntline. It was the kind of gun that Wyatt Earp used to carry. Ned Buntline created it for Wyatt Earp. And this was a replica of that, a .22, nine shot.
Mr. Watson told Linda Kasabian to wrap the knives up and the gun up and if they got stopped by the police, either ditch it out the window or to keep it in the wrapped condition so the police wouldn't be attracted to it.
Once they got to the Cielo Drive address, Mr. Watson stopped by the front gate. This was a very secluded residence. There weren't really any homes that close to it. It was up in the hills in Benedict Canyon in Los Angeles. Mr. Watson scaled a telephone pole with a pair of wire cutters that weighed about 40 pounds, which we had at the trial. And he cut the phone wires leading to the Tate residence so that no one could call out during the incident.
The evidence at the trial was that Mr. Watson was not under the influence of drugs at the time of the Tate murders. He did the next night take some speed, but the first night both the psychiatrist and Linda Kasabian, who was a prosecution witness, said that Mr. Watson was not under the influence of drugs, and because -- the psychiatrist base their opinion on the agility that he had during the course of the evening and especially scaling the phone pole with the 40-pound wire cutters.
Anyway, after Mr. Watson cut the wires, he came down from the pole and then moved the car around down the canyon so that no one would see it and it wouldn't attract attention. And then he and the three girls walked up to the fence. Mr. Watson carried some rope with him and the Buntline revolver. Mr. Watson then climbed over the fence, which had barbed wire on the top of it. And after he got over, he held the barbed wire up so the three girls could climb over. Once they got over, some headlights of a car leaving the residence struck their attention, and the driver of that car turned out to be 18-year old Steven Parent. Parent didn't know any of the victims, but he was a friend of the caretaker, another 18-year old who was living at a back house at the residence. And the caretaker escaped, apparently went unnoticed through all this. And the back house is located some distance from the main house. And he was found by the police the next morning to be asleep.
Mr. Parent -- Mr. Watson came up to Mr. Parent and pointed the revolver at him. Mr. Parent begged for his life, said, "Please don't shoot me. I won't tell anyone. I won't say anything." Mr. Watson at that point proceeded to shoot him at point-blank range four time. After that Mr. Watson directed Linda Kasabian to go to the back of the house and look for any open doors or windows. Mr. Watson and Krenwinkel and Atkins then went to a dining room window of the residence where Mr. Watson took a knife and cut a screen, horizontal line, so he could take the screen off. And he removed the screen and opened the front door. Mr. Watson and Krenwinkel and Atkins then went inside the residence and gathered the victims into the living room.
It appeared from the evidence that Mr. Sebring was the first to die. He apparently gave Mr. Watson some lip and talked back to him. And Mr. Watson shot him and stabbed him a couple of times for good measure. Then kind of panic reigned supreme inside the residence, and some of the victims -- two of the victims started running for it.
Frykowski, Wojicieck Frykowski started to run outside the front door. Before he got out of the front door, Susan Atkins stabbed him a number of times, but he got out to the front. And Mr. Watson got him in the front yard and proceeded to stab him on numerous occasions and hit him over the head with the gun butt from the Buntline. The coroner's report indicated that Mr. Frykowski was stabbed 51 times and suffered 13 blows to the head from the butt of Mr. Watson's gun.
Mr. Watson -- then Abigail Folger had run out of the back of the house with Patricia Krenwinkel chasing her with an upraised knife. Krenwinkel was stabbing her on the front lawn not far from where Frykowski was. And Watson came over and helped her out in stabbing Abigail Folger, although I believe that based on the evidence that Krenwinkel inflicted most of the blows, although Mr. Watson at his trial admitted that he also stabbed Abigail Folger. And Krenwinkel maintains that he did also.
Watson went back in the residence, and Sharon Tate, who was eight and a half months pregnant at the time, was there. Mr. Watson and Susan Atkins participates in stabbing her to death. And Mr. Watson, with the rope that he had brought to the residence, hung Sharon Tate. There were beams that went across the living room, and he threw the rope over the beams and hung her while she was still alive, according to Dr. Noguchi's testimony at the trial. He could tell from the coloration of the rope burns that she was still alive at the time she was hung. Mr. Watson --
Afterwards, on their way back, they stopped at a gas station, and Mr. Watson told Linda Kasabian that he had also taken $70 from the residence that he found. And they stopped at a location about a mile from the murder scene where Mr. Watson washed the blood off and directed a couple of the girls to do the same. Linda Kasabian didn't have any blood on her because by her testimony, she didn't go inside.
Mr. Watson then directed that the weapons and the clothing that they had worn, which was blood-soaked, he thrown over a cliff; and it was. And it was -- that clothing was recovered some time later, as was the weapon, Mr. Watson's weapon.
The victims at the Tate house suffered a total of 102 stab wounds by the coroner's report. When Mr. Watson got back to the ranch, he was asked if he had any remorse for what he did. He stated that he did not. He stated that he told the victims when he was there that he was the devil there to do the devil's work.
The next evening Charles Manson and Mr. Watson got together with a group of family members: Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, Leslie Van Houten, Linda Kasabian, and Steven Grogan. Manson was unhappy with the incident at the Tate house because he thought that it was too messy. So Manson announced that he was going to go out this night with the group and show them how to do it. Mr. Watson complained that the weapons that he had the night before weren't good enough and that's why it was so messy. But Manson said that he was going to show them how to do it this night.
So on the evening of August 9th, in the early morning hours of August 10th, 1969, Manson, Watson, Steven Grogan, Linda Kasabian, Leslie Van Houten, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel proceeded to drive for about four and a half hours throughout the county of Los Angeles looking for people to kill. They made a number of stops hoping to find the people to kill. At one point they stopped at a Congregational Church in South Pasadena where the plan was that they were going to try to find the minister and kill the minister and string him up to the cross in front of the church. They finally ended up at the LaBianca house. No one knew the LaBiancas, but they stopped there.
Manson went into the house, by the evidence, by himself at first and tied up the LaBiancas. He came back out to the car and told Mr. Watson, Miss Krenwinkel, and Miss Van Houten to go in and kill the people but not to let them know that they were going to be killed.
Mr. Watson -- and I might say a that Tate house it was -- Mr. Watson was the one that gave the orders at all times in the -- Manson did not go to the Tate house, and Mr. Watson gave all the directions. The same was true at the LaBianca house once they were inside, because Manson, after he told the three to go inside, then left. He had Rosemary LaBianca's wallet with him that he had taken from the house and that he proceeded to have that wallet planted in what he felt was an area that had a large black population. And he was in hopes that some black people would find the wallet and use the credit card inside and then get blamed for the murder.
Mr. Watson and Krenwinkel and Van Houten went in the LaBianca house. Mr. Watson told the LaBiancas that it was just a robbery when the LaBiancas inquired why so many people were there. And Mr. Watson said, "All we're after is your money." Mrs. LaBianca got a small box with coins in it. I don't think it had more than maybe eight dollars, eight or nine dollars in it.
Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten then took Mrs. LaBianca into the bedroom with the purpose of killing her. Mr. LaBianca was seated on the sofa in the living room with his hands bound behind his back by rawhide thongs. That's how Mr. Manson had left him. Mr. Watson proceeded to stab Mr. LaBianca to death. Mr. LaBianca was stabbed 12 times and suffered 14 fork puncture wounds.
Mr. LaBianca, when he was found, had a carving fork protruding from his stomach, which had caused the -- the tines of the fork had caused the puncture wounds. And he had a knife in his throat, which the handle was sticking out one side, and the knife blade went completely through his -- well, severed his carotid artery.
The girls were attempting to kill Mrs. LaBianca in the bedroom. Leslie Van Houten was holding her down, and Patricia Krenwinkel was stabbing her, except apparently they had -- Watson was the only one that was armed when they went inside the residence. He had a bayonet with him. The two girls got some kitchen knives; and apparently when Krenwinkel tried to stab Mrs. LaBianca, the knife blade bent. So Van Houten came out and called for Mr. Watson, and Mr. Watson came in and stabbed Mrs. LaBianca to death.
After the LaBianca -- and I said earlier that Mr. Watson had taken some speed. The testimony at the trial by the expert was -- is that speed would not make Mr. Watson unaware of what he was doing or the wrongful nature of his acts. But Mr. Watson apparently told one of the girls at the time that he was so tired from the events of the prior evening that he needed to take something to kind of wake him up, to make him more awake. And the experts said that that would be the effect that that would have on him. It wouldn't diminish his mental capacity.
After -- right after the murders, while still at the LaBianca's residence, Mr. Watson took a shower in the LaBianca shower. And then Mr. Watson and the two girls got items from the refrigerator, which they ate in the house.
Mr. Watson came back to the Spahn Ranch and left several days thereafter, went up to Olancha, California, which is at the mouth of the Owens River. According to the testimony of one of the girls he was living with Dianne Lake -- or Barbara Hoyt -- no, it was Dianne Lake. Dianne Lake and Barbara Hoyt testified that although they had very little money to eat with, Mr. Watson insisted on buying a newspaper every morning so that he could read about the murders.
After Olancha, he ended up out in Death Valley at the Barker Ranch with members of the family, where, according to the testimony by Barbara Hoyt at the trial, Mr. Watson on at least one occasion conducted a class on how to kill people. He would demonstrate to those assembled how you would stab someone: You put the knife in and pull up on the handle, and that would create a more damaging wound.
Mr. Watson, when the going got rough out on the desert, left Manson and the family and went back to Texas and went to Hawaii, too, during that period of time.
He was not brought back to California -- he fought extradition in this case and was brought back for trial.
Let me just check my notes. I think that's pretty much the facts of the case as I wanted to present them. If I could just have one minute.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Go right ahead, Mr. Kay.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: Do you have the ages of the victims, too?
MR. KAY: Sharon Tate, I believe, was 26 at the time; Steven Parent was 18; Leno LaBianca was 44; Rosemary LaBianca was 40. The others I would just have to estimate. I would estimate that Abigail Folger was probably 28; Wojicieck Frykowski was probably around 34, 35; and Jay Sebring was probably around his early thirties.
Oh, I might say on the -- Mr. Watson -- well, all right. I will leave it at that. That's the facts of the case. I can give you other factors about Mr. Watson and his actions with the family and what type of person he was before the murders, if you are interested in that. But that really isn't covered in this section. Then I don't have anything else to say about the facts.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Let me poll the panel and see if they have any questions to direct to you.
I have one, Mr. Kay. In reading this -- I think it came from the Appellate Court --
MR. KAY: The decision in the case?
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: There is a statement to the effect that the letters of the word "war", w-a-r, had been scratched on the flesh of Mr. Leno LaBianca's stomach. Do you know who did that, or had it been brought out and -- number one, did it in fact exist; and second, would you comment on that?
MR. KAY: Yes, the letters w-a-r were carved on the abdomen of Mr. LaBianca. I believe, by what I know about the case and the evidence, that it was most likely Patricia Krenwinkel that did that. I cannot say that positively because the only ones inside the location were Mr. Watson and Miss Krenwinkel and Miss Van Houten. I believe that the knife in Mr. LaBianca's throat was placed in by Mr. Watson, and the fork and the letters were probably placed there by Miss Krenwinkel. There was also some writing in blood at the location. "Death to pigs" in the living room; "rise" was written above the front door. And "helter skelter" was written on the refrigerator door.
In the Tate murders the word "pig" was written in Sharon Tate's blood on the front door. I believe Susan Atkins did that. And the writing in blood at the LaBianca's I believe was done by Patricia Krenwinkel.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Let me poll the panel. Mr. DeLeon, is there any questions that you have to Mr. Kay in connection with the instant offenses?
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: When was the crime discovered?
MR. KAY: Well, the Tate murders were discovered earlier the next morning about nine o'clock when the maid came to clean up the location. She got in the front gate and then saw Mr. Frykowski out on the front lawn. Mr. Frykowski and Miss Folger were out on the front lawn, and she saw them and then started screaming and ran down the street. And there was a young police explorer scout that lived in the neighborhood. There weren't any houses real close; but he went down and he got her and found out what happened and called the police; and they came.
The LaBianca murders were not discovered -- the closest I can put them were the LaBiancas were probably killed about 2:30 of the morning of Sunday, August 10th, 1969. The bodies were not discovered until about 9:45 that evening when the LaBianca's son came home from a trip he had been on to Lake Isabella. And the son came home and couldn't get the parents to answer the door, and went to a local pay phone and called and nobody answered. And he knew that something was wrong. So he called his sister and his sister's friend, and they all came over and went in the back door and discovered Mr. LaBianca's body in the living room, and called the police. And when the police got there, they discovered Mrs. LaBianca's body in the bedroom.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: I have another question. Manson left the location apparently when Mr. Watson and the others went in.
MR. KAY: Yes.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: What mode of transportation did they have when they left?
MR. KAY: When they left the location they went to the Griffith Park area and hitchhiked back to the Spahn Ranch. They were picked up -- I think they got a couple of different rides, but they ended up back in Spahn Ranch. The last ride they got, according to the testimony, asked them if they lived at Spahn Ranch, because he dropped them off somewhere near there at the bottom of the hill. And Mr. Watson said no, that they didn't. And then when they got back to the ranch, the testimony by Miss Van Houten was that Mr. Watson told her that if she ever said anything about what they had done, that he would kill her.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: I have nothing else.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. Del Pesco?
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: I have nothing further at this time.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Let me state here for the record that as far as the priors, the probation officer's report lists two arrests but no convictions. And so that will be all I have in that area. Back then to Mr. Kay with items immediately prior to the offenses themselves. And unless -- go ahead, and I'll then turn it over to Mr. Olpin after you get through, Mr. Kay.
MR. KAY: Mr. Watson came out to California from Texas. Apparently he was somewhat bored with life in Texas and wanted kind of the Hollywood scene out here. He came into contact with Charles Manson and the girls, the different girls that were members of the family, and apparently liked Mr. Manson and stayed with him. The -- you get a number of different descriptions of Mr. Watson before the murders. Those people that were not members of the family that saw Mr. Watson before described him as a real nice guy, just, you know, the last person in the world that they would have expected to be seen participating in these murders. Members of the family give different descriptions of him. He had the reputation as kind of the big lover boy of the family. Linda Kasabian, when she first joined the family, her first night there, Mr. Watson got her and took her into some cabin and made love to her right off the bat. And he always had the girls around him.
At the time of the murders, Leslie Van Houten was his girlfriend, and they spent a considerable amount of time together. Mr. Watson, by the evidence, would -- had threatened different girls on different occasions that if they ever left that he would kill them. He told that to Cathy Gillies, at one time one of the family members, who was not involved in the murders, that it would be very easy for him -- she had left one time without telling him that she was going. I don't know where she went, to the beach or something like that. And when she got back, Mr. Watson told her that he could kill her very easily if she ever did that again. Mr. -- it was an unusual group of people that Mr. Manson drew. None of them were dumb. I have not, in all the cases that I have had with members of the Manson family, met one of the Manson family members that I think was not fairly bright, at least intellectually speaking. But they were -- there was also something different about each one of them. Because you have to understand that Mr. Manson was not preaching sweetness and light. As a matter of fact, the evidence was that Mr. Manson used to lecture members of the family about Adolph Hitler, that Adolph Hitler was his hero. And he used to tell members of the family what a genius Hitler was for what he did to the Jews. And that Mr. Manson and members of the family wanted to create a master race, a white race, I mean. No minorities were allowed in the family, for sure. You just were sent packing if you were a minority.
Mr. Manson was -- followed Nietzsche, a German philosopher who talked about the master race, and Hitler. And he thought that this was the thing to do. And, of course, these murders were kind of a -- Manson hoped that there would be a black/white confrontation and that in the end the blacks would kill the whites except for Manson and the family. But since the blacks were so stupid, that they would have to turn over the power to Manson, and this became -- when you first hear this thing, you say, "Well, gee, anybody that believed something like that must be nuts." But the testimony at the trial was that "Yeah, if one person believed it, sure you'd say that they were nuts." But there are so many different religions and different offshoots that people believe. And I'm not talking about major religions. I'm talking about some far out minor religions. And this was a religion to the family. I mean, they justified the murders based on Revelation 9 in the Bible.
Most of the people were very religious. I find it not at all unusual that Mr. Watson is religious now. Susan Atkins is religious. Bruce Davis is religious. It is not something new on the part of these people. This was something that they had in the beginning. A lot of them thought that Manson was Jesus Christ and that whatever he said was the word of God. And they quote the Bible and twist it to mean what they wanted it to mean.
Mr. Watson was very robust at the time of the murders. He is much thinner now. He was a very powerful man. He was a top athlete, I guess, in Texas when he was there. And the pictures show that he was -- you know, looked to be at least over 200 pounds at the time, or close to it, very powerfully built. And what he did with the victims, especially -- Frykowski was not a little weakling at all, and he just tore him apart literally at the Tate house.
Mr. Watson, about a month before the murders, was involved in a marijuana burn where he tricked a black fellow, who goes by the street name of Lots of Papa -- he is a big fat black fellow, and the people on the street call him Lots of Papa. And Mr. Watson offered to sell him $2,000 worth of marijuana. And Mr. Watson got the money and went inside the residence and out the back door with the $2,000. And Lots of Papa had nothing.
Mr. Watson, while a member of the family, worked on the dune buggies a lot. He was apparently the most talented mechanic in the family and spent a lot of his time building dune buggies and fixing them up. The family had a number of dune buggies which they were going to use in the desert. They went to the desert after the murders to hide out. Basically they were running from the police.
But Mr. Watson -- Mr. Watson was a follower of Mr. Manson. But he was not completely devoted to him, because when the going to tough out there, he just split and went back to Texas. And we had the testimony at the trial from a young girl that he picked up out there that they went to motels, made love, and smoked marijuana, and just had a gay old time of it.
And Mr. Watson, when he was first back in jail back there, apparently his uncle -- I believe it was a relative, his uncle -- is the sheriff of the local town. So they kept him in jail, but he didn't eat the regular prisoners' meals. His mother brought him home cooked meals. He had his meals during the day; he had a stereo in his cell and it was just all hunky-dory until he fought extradition and finally got out here. And when he faced the death penalty he apparently didn't like that too much. He was found temporarily insane in the first trial and sent to Atascadero. As soon as he got up to Atascadero, Dr. Owre, who I understand is the chief psychiatrist here now, said that he was just playing games, that he didn't have any mental problems, that he was just putting on an act.
When he stayed down in L.A. he was mute, didn't talk to anybody, wouldn't eat, lost a lot of weight, got down to about 112 pounds. When he got up to Atascadero, Dr. Owre said that it was just a game, sent him back.
And then he had his trial where he was given the death penalty.
I don't really have anything more to add.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Let me poll the panel and see if there are any questions of you, Mr. Kay. And if not, we'll go to Mr. Del Pesco.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: Yes. On the conviction, now, Mr. Watson was convicted of --
MR. KAY: Seven counts of first degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: And he was given the death penalty at the time. Were there any other circumstances of sentencing other than what would be expected of any sentencing death penalty under these circumstances?
MR. KAY: Well, that's the only sentence he got. The trial was in three parts. See, Mr. Watson pled not guilty by reason of insanity. So we had the guilt phase of the trial where he was convicted as charged. Then we had the sanity phase, and the jury found he was sane at the time of the murders. Then we had the death penalty phase where the jury came back and gave Mr. Watson the death penalty. And Judge Alexander imposed the death penalty on Mr. Watson, and he was sentenced accordingly. And then in 1972 that penalty was overturned by the California Supreme Court, and his sentence was automatically commuted to life. This conviction was upheld on appeal. And so that's pretty much where we are.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: He was tried alone?
MR. KAY: Yes. He fought extradition at the first trial, so we couldn't try him with the other defendants. Had he been out here, we would have tried him with the other defendants. But he fought extradition in Texas, and we didn't get him out here until the middle of the first trial.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: I have nothing further.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: I have nothing further.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. Olpin, to you, then, sir. You can cover both areas. Mr Kay covered both areas, the priors and the --
MR. OLPIN: Before we get into that, I have a question. A gentlemen entered the room. I wasn't introduced to him. I don't have any idea who he is.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: This is Mr. Taugher, Chief Legal Counsel for the CRB, sir.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: And I think we should put it on the record that he is here as an observer only. He will not contribute or make any comments during the hearing here.
MR. OLPIN: I welcome him. I just wondered who he was.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: I'm sorry. I should have -- Mr. Taugher told me before the hearing that he was going to be here, and I saw him walk in and sit down very quietly and -- go ahead, Mr. Olpin.
MR. OLPIN: All right. Now, we have now discussed the offense or offenses and some of Mr. Watson's earlier life. And so with the panel's permission, I would like to go into that a little bit, mostly with my client. And in that connection, I would like to ask Mr. Watson -- first of all, Mr. Watson, Mr. Pizarro, a few moments ago, indicated that your record shows two prior arrests and no convictions. And I think that's a good starting point for you if you could explain to the panel what these two arrests involved.
INMATE WATSON: When I was in college I joined a fraternity called Pi Kappa Alpha. And there was a scavenger hunt one time, and we had a list of things that we were supposed to get. So we drove all over the country or the county there in Texas around Dallas getting the things that we were supposed to get. And on that list was to get typewriters. And I guess some of the guys needed typewriters or something. So we stole some typewriters, which wasn't right. I'm aware of that. And I turned myself in for it. I didn't fight it, just accepted that I was guilty. And the DA decided to drop the charges.
The other time I was arrested was right before the crimes themselves, about approximately four months, in April or May, I guess, of 1969. I was picked up; I was in the back seat of someone's car, and I was passed out. I was on Belladonna, a drug, and I was arrested under the influence of drugs. And, of course, I went to the county jail there and stayed overnight. And when I was brought to the judge the next morning, they just dropped the case. That's when the bad picture you see of me all the time, the beard and all that kind of stuff, the one that the press used so much -- that's the one they used there. I was really messed up on drugs. And that's the two times I was arrested.
MR. OLPIN: Mr. Kay has gone into some of the information that he has, and I assume received most of that from the trials, as far as your earlier activity prior to the crime. And I think that's rather important to this panel. Could you maybe just very briefly explain a little bit of your -- who your family is and what your earlier years were like with your family.
INMATE WATSON: Right. I came from a very good home, fine dad and mother and sister and brother. I grew up in a very small town of about 150 people, just a regular kid of the neighborhood, and I never got in any trouble or anything. And went on to, of course, grade school and high school and was always a honor student, always on the honor roll of the classes. And also I had -- I was a campus kid, in other words, as far as my schooling went, and kind of an all-star athlete, basketball and football and track. But I still -- you know, like most kids do today, they will go along with the crowd. And, of course, I was drinking a little beer at that time. So I really wasn't no angel. I'm not trying to present myself as an angel.
And I went on to college and, of course, got into a fraternity and got in with what they were doing and partying and going to school. I majored in business. And, of course, my family --
MR. OLPIN: North Texas State?
INMATE WATSON: Yeah. North Texas State. Today they are behind me one hundred percent. We have a family visit every year. And they love me, and I love them. I've got a brother and sister, and they're both married and have kids. And, you know, they are very much victims of this crime themselves. So, you know, it's kind of hard, because I did come from a good background. It was perfect except for the things that kids do. And that's kind of my past up to that point.
MR. OLPIN: Let me ask you this about your brother and sister. They're both older than you; is that right?
INMATE WATSON: My sister is ten years older than I am; and my brother is five years older.
MR. OLPIN: You indicated you came from a town of 150 people. What is the name of that town?
INMATE WATSON: Copeville.
MR. OLPIN: And what is that near?
INMATE WATSON: It's near Farmersville and McKinney in the county of Collin, about 35 miles north of Dallas.
MR. OLPIN: Now, Mr. Kay also alluded to some of your earlier contacts with the family. And I have no way of testing the accuracy of that. Would you care to make any comments about your earlier contact?
INMATE WATSON: Well, in my college years I went -- I graduated my junior year. Then I was going into my senior year. And at that time I kind of needed money, so I went to work for Braniff International Airlines and began to work for them as their crew driver from the terminal where the pilots stay over to the airport itself.
MR. OLPIN: This was in Dallas?
INMATE WATSON: In Dallas. And I began to travel a lot, like to Mexico and different places, like California mostly, too. And I began coming out to see an old fraternity friend of mine in Los Angeles here. And I liked it in California; I liked it in Los Angeles. So I talked to my mother and my dad and my friends and let them know that I was thinking about moving to Los Angeles and transferring my schooling out there. So I did; I moved to Los Angeles, Cal State out on the freeway, San Bernardino Freeway. And I did; I transferred all my credits out, and I started to school. And I got a job selling wigs. I was a wig salesman.
And my life got to be pretty full. I was traveling to school early in the morning and getting off and going to work, dating and studying a little bit at night. And so eventually I just dropped out of school, and I was just living too fast a life. Whereas I needed to work to go to school, I just couldn't do it all. And that's the way I justified not going to school my senior year. So I continued selling wigs, and it seems like I just started downhill from there. I began smoking marijuana and different drugs such as that. No pills or no hallucinogens or anything like that. But I just started downhill and started moving into higher class districts. Then I ended up out on Malibu Beach.
And one day I was traveling from my job in Beverly Hills there and down into Malibu, and I picked up Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. And he took me home with him. And that's where I met Charlie Manson. And I wasn't -- I didn't fall for the guy or anything like that, you know. I thought the guy could play guitar well. But I did get deceived into being taken into a higher class district, I guess you could say, and kind of falling for the upper class people.
And eventually I just kind of quit selling wigs and started kind of managing the home of Dennis Wilson there. And eventually he dropped the lease on his house, and I was just kind of left without a place to go. So I ended up going out to Charlie there in the ranch and living with them. And that's the way I kind of got locked into living there. And, of course, I wish I had never picked up a hitchhiker. But I don't want to give anyone the impression that I'm trying to blame the crime on anyone, because I do take full responsibility of being deceived to fall into the group of people and the culture that I did fall into, the drug culture.
And when I got out to the ranch, that's where I first -- and over at Dennis', too -- that's when I began taking hallucinogenic type drugs. Again, I don't mean to be blaming the crime on drugs or on Charlie Manson. I want to let you know that. I gave myself to drugs, and I gave myself to Charlie Manson. And it was my fault. I'm not trying to relieve the responsibility by the drugs or by Charlie Manson. But I do feel that the drugs made me submissive to his teachings, and I do feel that I became submissive to him, his way of life and his orders and -- but I do take full responsibility for my actions.
I was not a leader by any means in the family. I'm not trying to defend myself in any way. I really felt lower than the girls even because I came into the family after they did. And I always felt, my true feelings at the time was that I was not accepted even as much as the girls were, even though I did become one or together with Charlie Manson in being totally submissive to him and his way of live and his thoughts and things that we are a body and as a unit were involved in at that time, which got to be pretty crazy as we began to give ourselves more to hallucinogenic drugs and him. And I became under control of not myself; even though I could have said no at any time, I just didn't have the power to say no.
MR. OLPIN: Okay. Thank you. Now, you heard Mr. Kay relate the facts of these two nights of crimes. Is there anything that you would like to -- is there anything you would like to add to that or correct?
INMATE WATSON: Well, again, I'm up here at your mercy. I'm not trying to defend myself. I really don't want you to -- give the impression that I'm trying to defend myself, because I'm not. But the crimes are true. I mean, Mr. Kay, he actually told them very well. He did, you know, tell it from a prosecutor's standpoint, and there was a few errors that just for the record's sake that I would like to correct, because I have went over the crime several times, and I did ninety percent of what he said I did. I did -- things that I would like to correct, I'll bring them out now and just from memory kind of what he said.
Number one, the instructions that we all received at the time of the crime, they were directly from Manson, from Charles Manson. And I believe I did have the initiative to act upon my own, and I did make decisions during the time of the crimes themselves; and Charles Manson had no way of knowing everything that would happen. But I was told what to do, and I was told in the order to do it and the steps to do it. And I don't know if really you can understand what kind of relationship that we had together. But we had a close relationship to where I was willing to lay down my life for Charles Manson, and I was willing to do anything that he wanted me to do, the way he wanted it done. And there was a pleasing aspect there, that I was willing to please everything that he said or everything that he wanted me to do. And that's the way the people in the family are, at least the people involved in the crime, that he picked to go on the crime, were this type of people. They were people that wanted to please what he wanted done. So the things that he told me to do before we left the ranch there, such as giving me the knife and gun and telling me to go in and kill the people as brutally as possible, etc. And he had already told the girls what to d, which is writing on the wall and things like that, and that I didn't have to worry about that. These things were told to me; and when I went into the crime itself, it was just like a tape recording going over in my mind of the things that he had told me to do.
And, of course, again I don't want to blame the crime on him, because I was giving myself to it.
One other thing: We were a drug culture. We took drugs constantly. And again, I don't want to blame the crime on drugs. What I feel that the hallucinogenic drugs did to me was make me submissive to what he wanted me to do. If you do any study on drugs, you'll find out that they do make you submissive to other individuals. They take your thought away; and therefore you're looking for what to do. That's the whole peace trip. The whole peace movement of that era was that you take LSD, you take drugs. And therefore it takes all your thoughts away and you come to a Nirvana type peace state of mind.
And when we got into those crimes, I had been with Charlie Manson for approximately a year. And for about three months of that time I wasn't there. I did go into Hollywood. And we had come to a Nirvana type state of mind where we weren't thinking necessarily for ourselves, but we were thinking as a whole. We were thinking as a body; we were thinking as a unit. And we were very much programmed, as Mr. Kay says, to not only caring not only for our own life, but for lives of others. I had no care for myself. I had no care for the lives of others. And I thought the world was coming to an end. I didn't think there would be a today. We were living in a state of paranoia.
And I would go down-- we were living a very secluded life. And I would go down into the city, and I would look at the people. And I would think that they were just going into hysterics. I was kind of like an animal. I didn't even -- I recognized that I had parents, but I had no relationship anymore with my parents. I didn't care about my parents. I didn't care about anything. I didn't care about myself. I was just -- you know, I was totally --
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Do you want to take a few seconds to compose yourself? There is some water over there, Mr. Watson.
INMATE WATSON: No, that's okay.
Well, the crimes themselves, he's explained them pretty much the way they are.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: We are willing to take a two- or three-minute or five-minute break here if Mr. Watson feels that maybe by composing himself he will still have something to present. Do you want to do that?
INMATE WATSON: We could do that if you want.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: I want to make sure that you, Mr. Watson, get a feeling when you leave this room that whatever decision is made that you had a fair shot. This is exactly what we are driving at right now. So why don't we take five minutes to let you compose yourself, let you talk to Mr. Olpin kind of in private to yourselves, and then come back.
The time now is approximately one minute after ten, and we are having a short five-minute recess.
(Thereupon a brief recess was taken.)
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: We are resuming the hearing of Charles Watson. Let the record first indicate that the time is now approximately nine minutes after ten a.m. Secondly, let it indicate that all of the people that were in the hearing room immediately prior to the recess are back in the hearing room. That, of course, includes Mr. Watson; his attorney, Mr. Olpin; and Mr. Kay of the District Attorney's office; and members of the panel.
Would you continue then with your presentation Mr. Olpin.
MR. OLPIN: Yes. Mr. Watson, you heard Mr. Kay's review of the facts of these incidents. Is there anything about those facts that you would like to comment on or clear up in any way?
INMATE WATSON: Just for the record, without presenting myself really as a defendant, I would like to just state that at the time of the crime when I was leading up to the drugs, that we were involved in -- we were involved in drugs at the time of the crime. We were -- about a month before the crime we had acquired secretly a bottle of speed, and we were sniffing speed pretty heavy; as a matter of fact, all day long. We were really -- we had really got into speed right before the crimes. And what effect that has upon, you know, a person and the strength and the madness that it takes you into, I think I could only know and the people that have taken it or that have did studies on it.
At the time of the crime, just for the record's sake, when I got back to Texas after the crime, I weighed 138 pounds. The most I have ever weighed in my life was 160 pounds when I was left halfback in high school just -- I have always been presented as, you know, by the prosecution, to weigh about 200 pounds at the time of the crime. I'm just not that size of a man.
Also the other areas of the crime, Mr. Kay summed them up very well. I try to present the truth, the total truth as I recall. I did have control of myself at the time of the crime, and I did climb the telephone pole with the bolt cutters. They did not weigh 40 pounds. They -- you know, they weighted about ten, ten pounds. I guess. And other parts of the crime: I was the male figure at the crime and more or less the leader of the crime. The girls, their participation in it was very lightweight actually. They didn't participate that much. And I take full responsibility for what did happen.
I cannot recall -- I know it has been said of me teaching people to kill out in the desert after the crime. That was something that was put on me by someone else. That I never did. I wasn't -- I wasn't a karate man; I wasn't a fighter. I was a maniac driven by drugs and by what I considered as an evil spirit. And when I spoke that I was the devil and I was there to do the devil's work, I feel that I was driven by the devil. And not to say by any means that the devil made me do it, as the old saying goes. I take full responsibility. I was the killer there at the crime, and I don't like it. You know, I'd give anything if it hadn't happened. But it did happen. And I have feeling for the victims of the crime and the families of the victims of the crime. I believe that I have total remorse of what has taken place now, whereas I didn't have the sense to at the time of the crime because of my total lack of care for myself and for the care of others. I feel that I am not the same person now as I was at the time of the crime. I feel that I am a completely different person, and I feel that -- when I hear about the crime and when I hear Mr. Kay talk about the crime, I feel that is just wasn't me. But I know that I was there. I do know -- I remember it all, and I know that it was me in this body. But as far as the person, I am just a completely different person. And I believe that I am today a new person, a changed man, and -- but I do want to take -- want you to know that I do take full responsibility without trying to transfer the blame onto anyone else or any other thing.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Might I ask you a question, Mr. Watson? It concerns activity immediately prior to -- well, sometime prior to the offense Now there is so much information here, and I don't know just exactly where I found it. First of all, I'll tell you what I found, and you tell me whether it's true and I read it right.
INMATE WATSON: Sure.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: I read there that you moved in with the Mansons but then left for a while. I believe I got a note there that says December of '68. And then you came back February of '69 or thereabouts. The question is something like this: What caused you to leave, and what brought you back?
INMATE WATSON: That's a very good point. I'm glad you brought it out. When I went into the family, I was a clean cut guy. I had just dropped out of college. I had just walked out of my own business, which was a wig business that I had started. And I had just -- in other words, I was a very society driven person. In other words, I had not dropped out of society yet, as the old saying goes back at that time. And I began taking hallucinogenic drugs when I started with the family. And what hallucinogenic drugs do. They take you, the individual, the individual himself -- and I was that individual -- it takes you away from you. It takes the individuality away from you. The drugs begin to deprogram and as the thoughts come to your mind and the hang-ups that you have in your life come to mind, what we consider hang-ups, at the time they begin to vanish; and you begin to come to a nothingness type state.
On December 1st, 1968, I was to take my army physical to go into the army. And I had a knee operation earlier that year, and I did get turned down at that time. But I was in town to take the physical about three days before, and I called up my friend that I knew had to take the physical around the same time. And I found out he did, and I told him, I said, "Dave, I'm losing my mind." I said, "I just don't know who I am anymore." And in other words, I just couldn't give everything the family wanted me to give. I was still a worldly person to them. I was still a mama's boy. And I still hadn't given everything to the family. I said, "Dave, I got to get out of this situation that I'm in." He says, "Well, I'll tell you what. I'll pick you up on Topanga Canyon Boulevard." And I went up and he picked me up. And I went to live with him.
I was running. I didn't let Charlie know I was going or anything. And I ran from him at that time. And I stayed gone for about three months. And that's when I started living in Hollywood, and I started living the Hollywood life. And this is where I began to live with David until he went into the army. And then I started living with some more of his friends. We shared an apartment together. And I continued to feel like I was just -- that I was running from Charlie Manson, that I was running from things that I needed out of my life. He had a hold on me; it was like a magnet that pulled me back out there.
And I called him up one day, and I told him that I was in Hollywood and I was going to come out just to visit them. And when I got back out there, they were on a completely different trip than they were when I left them. When I was out there the first time, it was a completely love trip, like the flower children of that day. And when I got back, it was a helter skelter, dune buggy, black and white racial war, and also heavier hallucinogenic type drugs. And I was willing to come back to the family because it seemed that everything that I had been told by Charlie Manson when I was living with him and the things that he had told me, that I needed to get out of my life, I felt myself right back into the things that he told me, that I needed out of my life. And I say that they didn't bring any happiness either to my life. And I went back to him and the family and began to live there. And it was just like a pull, like a magnet that pulled me back. And, of course, I wish that I had never gone back. But I did, and --
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Thank you. You have answered my question. Let me poll the panel and see if they have anything further.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: I have only one. What is there now, Mr. Watson, today, 1978 -- you have lots of years. I have gone through your entire package with all the letters, all the comments, psych reports, counselors' reports. I want to ask you what is there today in your mind that would make the incidents that occurred back in those cases, totally nonrepetitive? In other words, if you were to have that -- to be faced with these situations again and all the causal factors that occurred, then what would be different now in your mind?
INMATE WATSON: Okay. Today I'm an individual. And I, as an individual, have been able to see the difference in wrong and right and what is bad and what is the garbage side of life, is what I'm trying to say. And now I have been able to see the good side of life. And on that bad side of life I see the things that are against God and love. I'm talking about true love. I myself, today, I have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. And I have asked him to come into my life, and he has changed my life. ANd I have been a Christian now for three and a half years. I do not want to come up direct with you today to try to use Christianity or try to use Christ or try to use religion in any way to justify the crime that I have committed. But I do know the truth today. I do have my feet on the ground today. And I have anger inside of me that is an anger that is directly from God against all that sin and all that garbage that destroyed my life. Does that make sense?
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: Yes.
INMATE WATSON: I have an anger against it. And today as a Christian and as a minister for Jesus Christ, that is what I am fighting. And I am constantly fighting it all day long, as I see it, as I see this wrong, and as I see this sin, and as I see this garbage of life, as I see it having eighty percent of the inmate population entangled and maybe even ninety percent of the inmate population. I see them living in it; I see them thriving in it; I see them getting their kicks in it. I see them looking for something that they haven't found. I see blind people out there; and over here I see myself, and I see a person that cares for those people over there. And I want to be able to show them a better way in life. And this side of life, the bad side of life, the side of life that I will never go back into again is the side of life that today I am fighting against. It will never have another hold on me again. I am a man of faith, and I am not a man to be easily deceived, because I am not ignorant of the things that got me into my past live. And I am not ignorant to being entangled in all that stuff again.
Through my years of incarceration here I have became a very aware person. I have became a person that can counsel people and that can talk to them and let them see my life and let them see where my life took me and where my life as living, living in all that, where it took me, and what was created from that. And I am able to relate to them the immensity of my fall in hopes that they will see that they don't want to fall the same way, that they see that they don't need all that bad stuff in life. I see myself today as an inmate, okay, but also I see myself as a helper to the work that I am involved in, which I think we'll go into a little later. But I find myself more as a helper of trying to show to others a way to keep themselves from getting back into it. And I think I'm very beneficial and very -- I can't think of the word, but productive, say, in the ministry that I'm involved in at this time.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: Very good. Thank you.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. Del Pesco?
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: I have nothing further.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. Olpin, anything else in this area, sir?
MR. OLPIN: Not in these areas, sir.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: All right. Then are we ready to proceed into the post-conviction, the in-prison conduct, so to speak? And as you will recall, I said Mr. Del Pesco is going to chair this portion of the hearing.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: All right. Mr. Watson, I have broken your period of confinement down by year by year. I do this in the event we find you suitable for release on parole. By Board policy we look at each year; and, if we do find you suitable to give you a total period of confinement, then from that period of confinement we may deduct anything from a guideline of zero to four months from each year, depending on whether you have done something above and beyond what is expected, such as being disciplinary free and working as assigned and so forth.
Now, unfortunately we have here a rather stripped file. As you may be aware, the director put out a directive not too long ago to purge file material beyond a certain time period. And yours was one of them. So you will have to bear with me, and maybe you can add to what I have.
I see as an example your work reports start in December '76. That's five years after you got here. But I'll tell you what I have got, and then we'll discuss your institutional stay in general. And you might add or may have chronos yourself that you can give me.
Between the period of 11/17/71, your date of commitment, to 11/17/72, we find that you are disciplinary free. And the main point of significance here is that you began group therapy on 10/4/72. And I think that was with Dr. Bill Barkley, Ph.D., who was here at that time. And I don't find anything else of significance in that period. You may have had favorable work reports, which, as I indicated, we don't have.
And incidentally, you can interrupt me at any time, because, as I told you, we don't have all the chronos we'd like to have at this time.
Then in 11/17/72 to 11/17/73, we find the only CDC 115 disciplinary report in your file. That was dated 6/8/73, which was for contraband and securing favors. That's when an MTA brought you some foodstuffs.
INMATE WATSON: He brought me a cantaloupe and loaf of bread.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: I guess he got the equivalent of a 115.
INMATE WATSON: He got fired.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: Then you continued in group therapy during this period.
And the period of 11/17/73 to 11/17/74, you again were disciplinary free, and you advanced to the -- this is a new one on me. Dr. Barkley referred to a Thia, T-h-i-a.
INMATE WATSON: I went into another phase of group therapy.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: I'm not familiar with these initials. But still with Dr. Barkley.
Then 11/17/74 to 11/17/75, you remained disciplinary free and continued in therapy with Dr. Barkley.
11/17/75 to 11/17/76, you remained disciplinary free. And now we start to pick up some work reports, which were all above average with some very high grades. And on a scale of one to five, I believe most of y0ur reports are closer to one, around the one range. Now, at this point you dropped group therapy. And that's confirmed by the CDC 128(c) of 10/12/76, submitted by Dr. Barkley, indicating you had lost interest. And I believe this is probably where you started to work more actively on your religious pursuits.
INMATE WATSON: I started Yoke Fellows.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: At this time you were into Yoke Fellows, which proceeded -- continued into the next period, November '76 and November '77. And you again were receiving above average work reports. And there is one and only one CDC 128(a), which is a disciplinary-type chrono, of 11/24/77, for contraband. And in reading the report, I see that you had numerous books, a book shelf and so forth and in fact I guess you had close to a hundred books and you looked like you were an extension of the CMC library.But anyway, they gave you a week to get rid of them. And this was nothing in the sense of contraband or weapons or anything like that. That's the only 128(a) you got. Still in Yoke Fellows, did I mention.
And the last period, which bring us to date, from 11/77 to today. You again are disciplinary free and getting average -- I put down average work reports. I thought you had above average. I didn't add the word "above". And you have been acting, since at least last year, from a chrono from Dr. Stan McGuire, we not that you are an associate pastor and director of the Yoke Fellows Program. And I might add that he doesn't have anything but praise for you. And I personally know of Dr. McGuire's program in Yoke Fellows, and he's a hard taskmaster. And he's quite convinced of your religious commitment.
We note from the psychiatric evaluations, primarily the last two, the one of 8/15/78, submitted by Dr. Owre, he refers us to -- mentions that this is the third psychiatric evaluation for the Board and indicates that you should remain on psychiatric referral, of course. And he indicates no significant psychiatric change, which would refer us back to your psychiatric evaluation that he also did, very complete, seven-page report, submitted on the date of 6/13/77. And I will just take excerpts and paraphrases.
INMATE WATSON: I'm going to say the conclusions are pretty good. It's a good report.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: From a psychiatric point of view, right, very thorough. I won't repeat what he indicates about the offense. That has all been covered. There is an awful lot of history, social history, and references to the offense. But he does mention the commitment to Atascadero State Hospital, and there were varying opinions as to what your mental status may or may not have been. And in fact he mentions that Dr. Seymour Pollack had seen you in the L.A. County Jail before Atascadero. I believe he does all the psychiatric for county jail prisoners. And at the time his diagnosis was schizophrenia catatonic type. But then, of course, there were varying psychiatric opinions as to just what your condition was.
And then let me jump to the end of the report which indicates that both aat Atascadero through their testing and CMC's, no psychopathology was noted to be present at the time of testing.
On 4/11/73, I noticed that an EEG, electroencephalogram was done, which showed -- I don't think this is significant to get all the medical terms -- but it shows some sort of abnormal EEG and -- however, he goes on to say that "This is an extraneous finding. It is not truly pathological", which in lay terms means this is no serious or treatable disorder. I don't know if there has been a follow-up on that.
INMATE WATSON: No.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: Apparently it didn't present a problem. Anyway, he didn't ask for further follow-up.
Then he goes on to the bottom of page 6 to day that your religious conversion is felt by the Psychiatric Council to be genuine, which is in concert with what Reverend McGuire states later, or earlier rather. And he says that it is also self-serving, but this is not unusual. "And it serves as a strength for him in his present position."
And then in the psychiatric conclusions he indicates that the Psychiatric Council concurred in the opinion that you were able to work through your psychotic conflicts about the murders and that the Council concluded that retention or correction ought to be on ground other than psychiatric ones, which is a method of saying that you don't have any psychiatric disorders or any treatable psychiatric disorders.
Your counselor submitted a report indicating that -- Mr. Grant, that is, R. A. Grant -- indicating that you were assigned and may be still assigned to clerk and typist in the medical department, I believe psychiatric department.
INMATE WATSON: When I first got here, for two and a half years I was their chief clerk for the psychiatric department.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: Did you have total job assignment?
INMATE WATSON: Right. I have been assigned there for over three and a half years.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: That was my impression, but I couldn't gather that from the files.
INMATE WATSON: I have had two jobs since I have been here. And I was two and a half years psychiatric and three and a half years at the chapel.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: Okay. Now, I notice, of course, that you are very active with your religious pursuits. We have already touched on that. And actually we were already getting into this area in your reply to Mr. DeLeon. And the panel has noted that your file is replete with letters from the outside, from your family. You have tremendous contact and family support, from your parents, you sister and brother-in-law, and your brother, and also from many individuals, especially from the religious field. And I refer to the chaplin in Texas, who is probably your closest contact on the outside.
INMATE WATSON: We work together.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: And we note close contact and visitations. Is there -- Now, at this point I'd like to ask you if there is anything that I have omitted and especially some possible chronos or information that might be of a positive nature that I might not have mentioned. I know it's very brief, but it's just a summary.
INMATE WATSON: I think being brief is good in this case. I have had a perfect record as far as I can see. All my work reports with all my -- with my two jobs since I have been in the institution have all been perfect as far as I can see, nothing derogatory. My work habits are also great. And I don't give nobody no problem. That's about all I have to add really unless you want to go into finer detail of my job and my growth since I have been in the chapel.
When I was with the psychiatric department I kind of came to a point where I was no longer growing, and I felt that I just kind of got a dry state. I didn't feel that I was really getting that much out of psychiatric group therapy with Dr. Barkley. And I really didn't feel my job had anything to offer other than to do my duties. So I felt when I went to the chapel -- I didn't know it, of course at the time of how much I was still lacking in my completion of a man or an individual. So I got involved in chapel program as a clerk, and I became an usher at the chapel. And we have a very unique chapel program here that we are now pushing to get it involved throughout the United States as a form of rehabilitation. And I became involved and gave my heart completely, of course, to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the ministry there. And I advanced from the usher into the acting deacon program. And I also began to advance in duties in the chapel, became the deacon, senior deacon, went into the student chaplain program where we take theological studies of all types from Reverend McGuire. And this is kind of like schooling in itself in that we do reports and testing and things like that, many different types of studying. And I advanced up to being the senior student chaplain and on in to assistant pastor level. And now I'm directly under the Reverend as an associate pastor. So over a period of three and a half years I have advanced to the very top in what we have to offer, and also very beneficial in establishing the program on paper so that men like yourselves can see it and see the benefit of it in prison today. Also we have did about seven hours of videotape plus put the entire program in a book form to cover the entire United States through Chaplain Ray, who has a very well established prison ministry that reaches all over.
So in that three and a half years with the chapel, I feel I have matured spiritually and matured in a very great way to where I have my head on my shoulders, so to speak. I have been preaching for about two years to the inmates here and also been talking a Bible study for two years. That came after I was a Christian for about a year and a half and had got established and knowledgeable about the Bible and things like that. Today I'm just continuing in that program.
That's about all I have to add unless somebody else has something.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: Let me -- All right. I have one question. This -- I would have held this for later, but I think I will ask it now because it has to do with your reply to Mr. DeLeon and what you have been telling us about your activities in prison. And I don't want to present it as a Catch-22, which I may be accused of doing. But it has to do with your own statement about your total commitment/submission to Manson and the way you were doing Manson's bidding. ANd you had referred to yourself in your own past as a clean cut guy. And your sister in one of her letters mentions how you were the all-American boy type. And apparently you were from all we read about you in the past.
Now, this total commitment took you to the offenses that we have discussed in great detail. And now you are into this other total commitment. And though it's possible one of the, if not the, best total commitments ordinarily we could think of, without your past history, but to remove your past history, for anyone else in your case, this is the second total commitment now. And, now, this type of commitment in and for itself doesn't lead to the type of killings we were talking about, obviously. But what assurance do you feel that this commitment will maintain "normal" direction and not give way to another total commitment, and God knows what that one might be, the third one.
INMATE WATSON: I think I pretty well answered that when I answered Mr. DeLeon. But -- I had my thought there, and I forgot.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: Take your time. I heard your answer to him, and I think this is a little different question. I don't think you answered it for my own benefit when you answered him. That's why in fairness to you I'm asking it in this manner, because we are obviously considering all along in this hearing suitability.
INMATE WATSON: Of course, we can see that everyone is committed to something. And on one side we can see that men that you come into contact with every day and that I come in contact with every day, they are committed to the wrong side of life in one way or another. They are either giving themselves wholeheartedly to that side or they are hung some way up in the middle. I was talking to a guy last night and I was witnessing to him. And I find that every man has to come to the point in their life to where they have to decide they have to make the decision: Am I going to serve people like Charlie Manson? Am I going to serve sin itself? Am I going to serve the wrong, the negative side of life? Or am I going to come over here on the good side of life and receive the answer. And every person has to come to the place in their life to where they come to this decision. Many of you may be Christians perhaps, and for some reason or the other you decided that -- you made the decision yourself that you weren't going to do a certain thing because it is wrong. And I have made that decision. And I made that decision in faith and have grown spiritually in boldness and in goodness to be able to completely overcome and conquer the wrong side of the world and to also not only conquer it in my own life, but to be beneficial in aiding men to see that they too need to conquer the thing that's destroying their life. And, of course, we can classify that thing as wrong of all the sins this world has to offer, such as murder, or we can say it's evil spirits of the world. Today my life is controlled not by evil, but it is controlled by goodness; and that goodness comes from God, and that goodness comes for the Holy Spirit. And my life each day is growing towards God and toward living a more holy and complete life.
And I do not see in my whole life of ever turning to go back in the other direction. There is no possibility. I can stand and I can say it in that kind of faith, that there is no possibility because of the maturity that I am now in Christ. And this is about the only assurance that I can give you. And I can understand your question because I have no pat answer for it, and I have no way to prove it. I have nothing you can see, in other words, to say that I won't.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: Well, I can appreciate that. If you have a pat answer, we wouldn't have to be talking to you today.
INMATE WATSON: So therefore you kind of have to go on faith.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: All right. I wanted to give you the opportunity to speak to that.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Yes. I have one comment that sounds kind of strange coming now, but it does branch off what Mr. Del Pesco is saying. Regardless of where or what paths you are pursuing, you have got three years of a college education. Did you ever stop to think about getting the fourth one and getting your BA or BS. And if not, why not?
INMATE WATSON: Yes, I have. And I could very well do that in my remainder of time in prison.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: I gather you haven't pursued it yet?
INMATE WATSON: No, I haven't. And I have been thinking about pursuing it, but I never have yet got to a comfortable place to where I can do the things that I'm trying to do here now and still have time for it. I think that it would be very beneficial. And my plans in the future, if not before, at least when and if I do get paroled, that part of my parole plans would be continue my education in the Dallas Theological School. Those are my plans, to go out of state and to work there.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Do you see yourself, say, driving toward a degree while you are in the institution?
INMATE WATSON: Possibly.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: What would cause you to do it or not do it? What decisions are involved here?
INMATE WATSON: Well, okay. As far as --
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: I don't mean to be cruel, but you've got a lot of time left.
INMATE WATSON: As far as the position that I'm in right now and the work that I'm involved in, it has been taking so much of my time to mature up to a point to where I can comfortably have my sermon ready for Sunday morning or Sunday night and being the director of Yoke Fellows, involved heavily with all the group sponsors who are free men from the outside and being as heavily involved right now as a more or less public Christian, so to speak, or whether or not I'm for real or whether I'm not for real. I just haven't been able to branch off into that area. I would not pursue the business degree or marketing which I had, but I would try to change my credits around into a correspondence-type school to where I could get my degree in religion rather than -- towards the ministry rather than toward business.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: You answered my question, Mr. Watson. It boils down to you feel like you don't have the time.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: No. You have answered my questions. You know, you have a very bright normal reading result of your testing, and you have a very high grade in arithmetic as far as aptitude is concerned, mathematics. And that was going to be my question earlier, you know. But insofar as preparation and preparing yourself in the field, in other vocations, other skills, as alternatives to support or ensure your success, you know, on parole. But since then I have come to the conclusion that you're totally committed to theological studies in the religious field. And I think that is very admirable, and I think that's very positive, and I think it's a great benefit from positive commitment in that sense.
So I have no other questions.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: All right. Counsel, is there anything in this area that you want to bring up, direct to Mr. Watson?
MR. OLPIN: I don't believe so. I think it has been covered very thoroughly.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: Mr. Kay, did you have any comments or questions in this area?
MR. KAY: No.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: All right then. This puts a close to this phase of the hearing on post-conviction factors.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: I think that as we talked earlier, we realize it's hard to plan without a date. But Mr. DeLeon will lead this part of the discussion and --
MR. OLPIN: I hesitate to interrupt. There is one comment I wanted to make. I had circled it, and I forget to go back to it. Reference was made to a 115, I believe in 1972; about the fruit. Or was it '73?
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: June '73.
MR. OLPIN: I would very briefly like to ask my client if he could explain in a nutshell what took place on that occasion.
INMATE WATSON: Well --
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: If it would help Counsel, please feel free to answer the question. We are not concerned with it. I think it was more or a serious matter with staff than Mr. Watson.
MR. OLPIN: Well, my client didn't know about it until it happened.
INMATE WATSON: I will be just very brief. I really don't want to pose it as being anything important really to talk about either. We have to realize that when you work with MTA's and when you work with free men, if you're mature enough, you have to be protective for them in care and concern. Like today -- I work with many visiting clergymen who come in. I have to say, well, you know, "Don't get conned and don't do anything for an inmate," for instance. At that particular time I didn't have those type of morals, and it was very normal for MTA's to bring their lunch in and share it with me at work. And he came up and brought something to my room one day without me knowing it. And you have to realize that inmates do form relationships with free people that come in.
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: Over-identification with inmates. And that's why we understand. That occurs from time to time.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. DeLeon, please.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: I think we have already covered a great deal of or the majority of what we would cover normally in parole plans. You have already mentioned that you intend, or one of your wishes is to go into Dallas Theological School. And you have tremendous amounts of, a number of letters of support in your package. And I read them all, and they are all positive. There are no negative letters from the community. You have letters from different ministers in this area, Paso Robles, Santa Maria, everywhere. And there are letters from people who have apparently seen you on television on a program with which I am familiar. Apparently they had a tape of you or some such thing, because they responded with positive letters, favorable letters. So you obviously made a very favorable impression there. And letters of support from your family, letters of support from Reverend Ray, who -- I believe it was Reverend Ray who mentioned in his letter the fact that your plans to parole to Texas might alleviate some of the deep concerns of people in this community about your release.
All the letter from your family, from friends, from people in that community within which you would live, apparently in Texas, are totally supportive, none negative at all.
Now, it would seem apparent that with the reputation, the name that you have, the notoriety attached to these particular charges, that one could exploit that or to where financially one would benefit. And I am sure -- and the only reason I mention it -- I don't have that impression at all. But I think that is a point to address insofar as your parole plans are concerned, because even though you are totally sincere, and I believe you are, there is no question in my mind insofar as that is concerned. But the influence of others may be a factor. And other than that, I see nothing negative in your documentation or in your letters of opportunities to work with different churches, opportunities for school. Would you like to enlighten the panel on those issues?
INMATE WATSON: Of course, I haven't went out of my way to plan because it's really hard to plan what you're going to do when things are so uncertain. But I have developed many working relationships through the notoriety of my crime, the crime itself. And as far as financially letting it be beneficial to me, I have been super careful not to do that, because I don't believe that that should ever be. I believe that any money that I would ever get as far as a book or anything to that state -- which you may be aware that I do have a book out. The funds from that book, of course, are already being handled, to go in Chaplain Ray's prison ministry. And hopefully fifty percent to the families of the victims of the crime. Because that money is actually blood money any way you look at it.
As far as when I do get out, of course, I do plan on being heavily involved in the ministry and, of course, at that time will be the deciding factor if I go to Dallas Theological Seminary. I will possibly challenge several of the courses that they offer by just taking examination, if that's possible, to challenge courses. And I will try to get my degree at that time, if not before. I would be working with Chaplain Ray in his ministry, employed by him, which is without a doubt the largest prison ministry in the United States. And hopefully my life, my testimony, plus the 200,000 books that are going to prisons in December will be beneficial in testifying to them a better way of life for themselves. Of course, we cannot push Christianity. We cannot push programming or anything upon people, only by offering them a shorter sentence if they do it or something like that. There has got to be some kind of initiative. But I find that the ministry which I have been given by the Lord can be beneficial to others, and that's why I'm going into the ministry when I do get out. And that will be a full commitment with Him, Chaplin Ray, and with the International Prison Ministry.
Also I would like to bring this point up. I recognize the immensity of the crimes themselves, and there is no way that I would ever want to try to look at them upon a superficial level because they are very bad, and I have lost many tears and nights of sleep upon the crimes themselves. So therefore I am very hurt by them. And I also have feeling for the victims and the families, and so therefore I don't want to overlook this part in any way. And I don't want to overlook that part in any way. I know that you are not. But I want to work with you is the point I'm trying to make. And I recognize the fact that we have a problem as citizens of the United States, and we have a problem with the teenagers; we have a problem with inmates. We have a problem with criminals in general. And I feel that my life now can be of benefit in the future to reach those people that are actually worshipping Charlie Manson, and there are people in the Youth Authority, whether you know it or not, that have actually got gangs and cliques that worship Charlie Manson. Paso Robles School for Boys. You can call out there right now and ask how the Manson gang is doing, and they'll be able to tell you that they are hook, line, and sinker sold out of him.
I feel that my life now, if we could just work together some way to do something good, to allow something good to come out of this crime without looking upon the crime itself as heavily as we are. And I say that lightly because I do recognize the immensity of that crime. But I would like, regardless of what happens today and what your thoughts are today, to think over the next time that we do see one another, of the way that we together can work to be a benefit to others out of this crime. Let's let something good come out of it is what I'm trying to say. Let's try to create something or be open enough to be used from this moment forward for the good. We can stay hung up in these crimes all day long, and we can cry over them all night long. And I'd do anything if I could bring those lives back. I would even give my own life if I could. But we can't do it. And I think we are going to have to look at what good now that I as a person can benefit society and to the ones that are lost, to the ones that I myself personally might be able to speak to and say, "Wake up. That's not where it is at." And being able to come out and let them see me and what I represent, not me as a person, but what I represent, who I am. I am a killer and also a person's life that has changed.
And that's my parole plans.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: Very well. I have nothing further.
Mr. Del Pesco, do you have anything on parole plans?
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: No, I have nothing.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: Then that concludes our parole plans. And if you would, Counsel, would you like to address that particular issue?
MR. OLPIN: As far as parole plans?
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: As are as parole plans.
MR. OLPIN: I think that my client has expressed that as eloquently as I possibly could.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: I think we are in the stage in the proceedings now where we will entertain some closing comments. And as we discussed with counsel immediately prior to the hearing, the panel will appreciate it if the thrust of these closing comments was directed toward suitability and to the length of confinement if you feel suitability exists. I don't want, of course, to tell you how to present your case, but as you know, these are the two issues that are before the panel today.
We will start then with Mr. Kay, and then we'll give Mr. Olpin an opportunity to close.
MR. KAY: Thank you. I have just jotted down a few observations I have here about why I feel Mr. Watson is unsuitable for parole and should be found such by the Board.
I think there are certain factors that the Board should take into consideration, and I know that you gentlemen have probably all thought of all of them. But at least I'm going to say them. The gravity of the offense in this case. This has by some people been called the crime of the century. I don't know if it really is the crime of the century, but at least in my lifetime it is the most heinous crime that I'm aware of. And I think that weighs heavily against Mr. Watson. I think Mr. Watson, from his own point of view, is right to try and see what good he can bring out of it for his own life and helping others. And I commend him for it. It might be that his calling so to speak, is to remain in prison and help prisoners out for the rest of his life. I mean, as far as this case was concerned, Mr. Watson wasn't even to have a life. He was to be executed. And he only got out of the execution because the death penalty was overturned as to all people on death row. His case wasn't specifically overturned. There was no error I found in his trial. He was a beneficiary of that general decision by the Supreme Court. So that might be Mr. Watson's one break in life, maybe even a break that he didn't even deserve. But he seems to be doing a good job in prison, and that might be just where he should stay.
The actions of the defendant during the commission of the crimes, I think, should be taken into consideration. One would find it hard to imagine a more vicious killer, more hardhearted vicious acting killer than Mr. Watson during the course of these seven murders. I have gone through the facts before; I don't need to repeat them again. But I think that you have to agree with me.
The third point is I think we will have to take into consideration the community and the public. How do they view this crime? It is clear that this crime is at the top of the spectrum of all crimes, that people always ask, "Well, do you think that Manson or Watson will ever get paroled? Will we ever have to see them out on the streets for these horrible offenses that they have committed?" The community is very concerned about that. And, of course, one thing that we are all concerned with is if Mr. Watson was paroled, then we would have to say that that would be a message to every murderer from here on out that everybody is going to be paroled. I mean, if Manson or Watson get paroled, it's hard to imagine circumstances where we would not parole anybody at some point in time. You would just have to say, "Well, okay. Everybody sooner or later is going to get paroled no matter how heinous the crime was, no matter what they did."
Of course, one thing that I guess you could include under the gravity of the offense was the excessive mutilation of the victims -- 102 stab wounds. And I would say, based on my knowledge of the case, that Mr. Watson inflicted at least between 80 and 90 of those wounds himself on the victims. And that's just at the Tate house. And at the LaBianca house Mrs. LaBianca stabbed 42 times, Mr. LaBianca, 12. And Mr. Watson inflicted most of those wounds. Didn't know any of the victims. That has to be taken into consideration; wasn't a crime of passion. And he consumed a meal after the LaBianca murders while in the house, taking a shower and eating a meal. And then telling the people back at the ranch that he had no remorse. And I think Mr. Watson was correct on that. I don't think he denies that he didn't have any remorse at the time. Also the bizarre nature of the offenses. It is -- can we risk letting Mr. Watson out on parole? I mean, can we sit here today and say that if Mr. Watson gets out on parole that he really will lead a life of religion the way he has been acting here in prison and that he won't be led astray? I just don't see how we can take a chance on Mr. Watson.
Mr. Watson says that his life now is controlled by goodness, and before he said his life was controlled by Charlie Manson. Well, the problem is that Mr. Watson should control his own life. It's always outside forces controlling his life. I commend him for turning to a religion. Again, as I said earlier, I don't find that unusual at all for a member of the Manson family to turn to religion, because they were really never turned off of religion. They were religious before, and Susan Atkins and Bruce Davis are religious now. Mr. Manson was religious. Mr. Manson is a follower of Scientology and was trying to persuade many members of his family into certain aspects of Scientology. As a matter of fact, I think Bruce Davis was almost a minister of Scientology. The people believe that Mr. Watson is sincere now. I certainly hope he is.
I always have a bit of skepticism as to Mr. Watson, because Mr. Watson is an extremely good actor. He fooled a number of people he dealt with in court until he got up to Atascadero. And the people at Atascadero -- Dr. Owre said, "Well, this guy is just playing games. He doesn't have any mental problems." Dr. Owre, who wrote that big report that you have, said that Mr. Watson doesn't have any mental problem now. Well, he didn't have any mental problems at the time. He knew exactly what he was doing. He just liked the way of life that he had: the drugs, the free sex whenever he wanted it, and create this master race and start their race war in society.
He had an overzealous commitment to Manson and the family. He has a very zealous commitment to religion. Should he be out, what happens if something goes wrong? What happens if Chaplain Ray sets him adrift saying, "Well, we can't use you right now in our program. What's going to happen? Who's he going to turn to? This man who has always been controlled by outsiders, who is going to control him? He doesn't seem to be able to put his own feet on the ground, say, "I'm Tex Watson. I'm going to control myself, and I'm a religious person. And I believe in God and Jesus, and I'm going to make my way in this world on my own and not be controlled by outside forces."
He said that -- at one point in this hearing, he said he's not a man to be easily deceived. And yet he told us even earlier in the hearing how he was deceived by Mr. Manson and fell into this trap of drug culture and the Manson family. One thing that he said about his book, he said, well, that fifty percent of the funds were going to Chaplain Ray, and the other fifty percent to the victims.
Just having finished the Van Houten trial, I have been in contact with a number of the family members of victims. They have never seen one penny of anything from Mr. Watson. I don't know if Mr. Watson has any control over that or if Chaplain Ray is taking a hundred percent of that or where it's going. But they haven't seen a penny of it. I know that Mr. Frykowski has two children over in Poland. The LaBianca children, one lives in Colorado; one lives in Northern California. They just haven't seen anything. I'm not saying that is Mr. Watson's fault. I really don't know what the true financial earnings are. I'm just saying they haven't seen any of it.
I think we owe it to society to keep Mr. Watson behind bars. I'm not at all sure that that's not the best thing for Mr. Watson, too, because he seems to be doing some good things here in prison. I sincerely hope that he is -- keeps that up. I commend him for it. He has spent barely over the minimum for a life termer in prison. And, of course, as we know, everybody is eligible for parole consideration after seven years. Mr. Watson was taken into custody in December of 1969. So that's not much time over the minimum. I think -- and just to say that our local community is concerned with this crime is not exactly the case, because this case, as we all know, has received national attention. And there are members of the press from all over the United States -- I know when I just finished the Van Houten trial, I would get calls from all over the world about that case, the Van Houten trial, what was happening? What is the status of Mr. Watson, the other family members? This is a crime that has truly shocked the conscience of the public. And I think that we owe it to them to keep Mr. Watson right where he is and find him unsuitable for parole.
I don't have anything further.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. Olpin, do you recall that I said to you that you and Mr. Watson would close? Do you want Mr. Watson to address the panel now, and then I will --
MR. OLPIN: I propose to summarize my thoughts very briefly at this time, and then if he wants to add something to that --
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: All right. Mr. Watson, if there is anything that hasn't be covered so far that you think is important to the panel to consider, that will be your opportunity. All right. Mr. Olpin, please.
MR. OLPIN: Thank you. I intend to be brief. I do want to highlight a couple points I think might be important that may be some guidance to the panel.
First of all, in reference to what Mr. Kay said, I, first of all, commend him for his objectivity throughout this hearing. I do disagree, however, in one aspect of his comments. And that is the fact that this is a notorious case. The fact that the community out there is asking or is aware of it, I think that factor is not what this Board is looking at. That's not one of the guidelines that we are looking at. But whether it's a secret case, people know about it, or it's a notorious case, I think that has nothing to do with this Board's objectively looking at the facts, looking at this man and deciding whether he is suitable.
I intended in talking to you today to not mention much, if anything, about my client's religious conversion; and I still intend not to. He has covered that quite well. Just one thing that came to my mind and I jotted down when he was talking and as some of the panel were asking him questions about his conversion. And I think -- I don't profess to be a religious person or person who knows a lot about religion. But in his describing his current situation and comparing that to his past situation at or near the time of these crimes, I was reminded it was in the New Testament. If I might paraphrase, it says something to the effect that if you lose your life for my sake, you shall find it. And Mr. Watson very eloquently explained what he felt was the difference between his past situation and present situation. Well, I think maybe that scripture might summarize that.
His involvement with the family, so-called family was completely a self-centered type of a thing, as I understand the facts and apparently Mr. Kay understands them. And that was the circumstances, the drugs, the very selfish pleasure seeking situation. Mr. Watson's present commitment, to use a word we have been using this morning, is the opposite of that. And that is losing his life or not worrying about his pleasures or his immediate happiness or thrills, or whatever it might be. But he has concerned himself with others in his work here in the institution, trying to help other people find the way, help other people realize the wrongs of their ways and maybe find a better life. So I think maybe that scripture might explain the difference between his prior commitment to the family, Mr. Manson, and his commitment now to a different situation. Okay. Enough on that.
Now, I don't intend to in any way condone or diminish the nature of the crime that took place. We have discussed that in great detail, so I'm not going to try to do that. However, I think rather than emphasize so much what happened, which we all are very well aware, it is more important to understand why it happened, which is also hard to answer. But I think the psychological report in the file dated June 13, I believe, 1977, addresses itself to that. And I'd like to point out one aspect of that report which you have all read. And that is the Psychiatric Council, who apparently all had input into this report. It was actually written by Dr. Owre, but he refers to it as the Council report.
They apparently came to the conclusion, most, if not all of them, that part of the reasoning for this thing happening was this share psychosis situation, which they use the French phrase folie a deux, where a dominant person has a psychosis or a delusion and that delusion is shared with a submissive part of that relationship. And obviously in the case we're referring to, Mr. Manson is the dominant personality, and Mr. Watson the submissive personality. And that is this folie a deux relationship that the submissive person actually accepts or believes, comes to believe or share this psychosis or delusion of the dominant party. And it seems to me what little I know, and I don't profess to be a psychiatric expert or anything, but in reading about the case and studying the case and reading that report, that makes a lot of sense. And I think the Psychiatric Council is correct in their evaluation. That is exactly the kind of relation we have here. And it's interesting to see what the Psychiatric Council said about the cure for this folie a deux. They comment that the cure is rather simple. You separate the two, the dominant and the submissive person, and the submissive party invariably gets better. In this case, the submissive party, Mr. Watson, has been separated from the dominant party, that is, Mr. Manson, for, I think, nine years or in the vicinity of nine years. And in that time Mr. Watson has shed those delusions.
He has told us here today how he doesn't believe in that lifestyle and how he realizes the terrible wrong which resulted.
Also the Psychiatric Council report refers in passing or very briefly to the group situation or pressure which also had something to do with the crimes that were committed. And this, I think, is the mob mentality, go along with the crowd or go along with the mob crowd, the frenzy of the moment, and so on.
In relationship with all of this -- and this isn't really discussed in the Psychiatric Council report, but I think it is implied between the lines as part of the psychiatric reason for the thing happening. And I believe Mr. Watson referred to this today, is the conditioning or the programming. My client spent a large amount of time with Mr. Manson in this folie a deux relationship the Psychiatric Council discusses. During this time Mr. Watson and other members of the family apparently were conditioned or programmed to believe certain things, to accept certain things, and to do certain things. And once again, I don't mean to condone what happened.
But historically there are some sort of analogous situations that happened to people. We have situations such as the witch hunts were people are allegedly witches; and therefore persons or groups of persons think that society is better off without these people, and they kill them. We have lynchings of blacks and other where people have operated under some psychosis or delusion, thinking that some people are either subhuman or less important than others. And therefore in the furtherance of a more important, bigger cause, the end justifies the means. And it's okay to wipe out these subhumans or unimportant people. One striking example of this is the Mai Lai massacre which took place in Viet Nam not that many years ago, where some people under stress situations, having been programmed to kill under that situation, actually slaughtered innocent women and children for the cause of their nation or for the cause of mankind or for whatever reason. I think it's part of this program they were taught or believed these victims were gooks or something less important than them.
So anyway, once again, I don't want to act like I'm condoning those acts or those actions, but I'm just saying that this psychological thing which causes something like this to happen is not necessarily a unique situation. Human beings innocently have been killed throughout history because of some delusion or some programming situation which happened similar to these incidents.
My client is here on a commitment involving multiple victims, and that is a fact. There were eight counts alleged and apparently he was found guilty of all eight counts. Seven lives were taken. But I would ask the panel consider this as really one crime or maybe possibly two because maybe it happened over a two-night period, rather than seven or eight separate crimes. And I think that's justified by what I just said about the psychological thing, the programming, the shared psychosis, and so forth, that it really was all one crime really, even though there were multiple victims.
Now, except for the fact that there were multiple victims and except for the fact, which has been pointed out, of the notoriety of these crimes, few, if any, of the usual factors tending to show unsuitability are present in this case. On the other hand, almost all of the circumstances tending to show suitability for parole are present. And let me just very briefly run down the list I have written down to illustrate this. Mr. Watson has no juvenile record, no prior record of violence, no significant history of criminal conduct, as we discussed this morning. The only prior trouble with the law he'd ever had prior to this was one college fraternity prank for which he was never convicted; apparently the case was dismissed. And number two, he was arrested for being under the influence of drugs. And that was not that far away from the time of these crimes. He was still in the same basic time scheme of the drugs. Other than those two incidents, no run with the law at all.
Mr. Watson came from a good home, excellent student, well liked and respected by everyone in his community, as has been pointed out by the letters of support and son on.
The crime was the result of significant stress factors which had gone on for some time. I have already dwelt upon this. I think the stress factors involved are the relationship with the Manson family, the programming, the conditioning, the drugs and so forth, and indoctrination and that these types of stresses which caused that crime are very, very unlikely to ever recur. I say that because I don't believe Mr. Watson, regardless of where he or Mr. Manson end up, will have anything to do with this man or anyone of that type.
The next point is Mr. Watson's institutional behavior, which has been exemplary. I think everyone would agree that it has been exemplary. All his work reports have been above average. Mr. Grant's report that we all have, dated 9/25/78, indicated that he has made an excellent institutional adjustment, that he worked as a clerk typist for the medical staff with excellent grades, CMC chapel for two years, and is now assistant pastor, the director of the Yoke Fellow Program. All reports reflect that he is liked and respected by staff and inmates alike. As I say, it has been an exemplary performance.
He has also attended group therapy. Reverend McGuire, in a chrono of 1978, said that he believes Mr. Watson is rehabilitated for parole consideration. That's the reverend that Mr. Watson works with I think almost daily within this institution.
The post-parole plans have been discussed in some detail as to what Mr. Watson hopes to do if and when he is released. And the letters in the file indicate the support he has from the outside from family to live in their homes, from Chaplain Ray to work with him, and so on and so forth. I think that has been covered sufficiently.
Now, the last thing I want to discuss very briefly is the psychological factors involved in this case. We have the report dated 8/15/78 from Dr. Owre, which really doesn't say much except refer back to the '77 report and says all things are still applicable there. This is the same Dr. Owre that Mr. Kay indicated had enough insight and lack of gullibility to say, "This guy is not really insane", when he went to Atascadero before his trial, that he is playing games with us or whatever. It was the same doctor with this insight, able to diagnose when a person is faking, when a person isn't. The doctor, writing a report of the Psychiatric Council, dated 6/13/77, indicates that it is their feeling that the religious conversion of Mr. Watson is felt to be genuine. It is felt that he is not presently dangerous for prospective release and seems unlikely to return to the use of hallucinogens and that retention and correction would have to be on grounds other than psychiatric.
The major issue, as I see it, in this case is as to whether Mr. Watson is suitable for parole. In answering the question, will he pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society if released -- and that question was asked and answered in the report and by Dr. Owre in the report and by Psychiatric Council. And that is that he is not presently dangerous for prospective releases.
Just to conclude then, Mr. Watson realizes and accepts the fact that he cannot realistically expect to be released from this institution right away. He understands that. But on his behalf as his counsel, I would very respectfully request this panel to give some very serious thought and consideration to the CRB guidelines on suitability and unsuitability, compare all of these guidelines to my client and consider very carefully at least setting a date for him so that he has something to look forward to as far as when he might be released from the institution.
I thank you very much on behalf of my client for your attention.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. Watson, at the beginning of the hearing or sometime during the hearing -- you are the reason we are here. And this involves not only your life, but the life of so many people in society in general. But since it is your hearing and since I want you to make sure that you have got a fair shake, I told you I was going to give you an opportunity if you had something to say. Do you have something to say?
INMATE WATSON: I think I have said about everything I can. I am happy with what has been said.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: All right then. Let's then, if there is nothing further from the panel members, no questions or comments, recess this hearing for the purpose of letting the panel discuss this matter and make a decision. I am going to ask, first of all, that the tape be turned off and the hearing room be cleared. The time now is 11:35 a.m.
(Thereupon the room was cleared, and the hearing of the Community Release Board recessed for deliberation by the Board.)
RESUMPTION OF PROCEEDINGS
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: We are resuming the hearing of Charles Watson, B-37999. First of all, let me state that the time now is approximately 12:17 p.m., that all of the people that were in the hearing room immediately prior to the recess are back in the hearing room for the decision of this panel.
The decision is as follows, and I am going to read it because we spent quite a bit of time. Panel unanimously finds Charles Watson unsuitable for parole and further finds that he poses an unreasonable risk of danger to society if released. The reasons are as follows: One, the manner in which death was inflicted upon the seven victims was brutal, excessive, bizarre, without provocation by the victims, and without normal comprehension. The inmate personally, or through his leadership or direction, abused, defiled, and mutilated several of the corpses in these seven murders. There were over 150 stab wounds, the majority of them being inflicted by the inmate. The bizarre conduct immediately following the LaBianca killings, such as showering in the victims' home, eating the victims' food, behavior completely incomprehensible.
Second, the panel recognizes that Mr. Watson has made considerable effort and change toward positive behavior. But the scope and the gravity and the brutal nature of the attack, when weighed against the institution accomplishments necessitates a longer period of incarceration.
CRB is directed to give suggestions to Mr. Watson of what he can do to improve his opportunities to get a date. And we have three: One is to continue disciplinary free, two, that you continue your religious pursuits, if that is your choosing; thirdly, that you discuss with your counselor a possibility of expanding on self-help programs.
That is the decision that this panel has made. I'm going to poll the panel and see if there is anything they would like to say or any comments they'd like to make.
BOARD MEMBER DeLEON: I have nothing further.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. Del Pesco?
HEARING REPRESENTATIVE DEL PESCO: Nothing further.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: To you, Mr. Kay.
MR. KAY: No comments.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. Olpin?
MR. OLPIN: Nothing further.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: Mr. Watson?
INMATE WATSON: No comments.
PRESIDING MEMBER PIZARRO: All right. The hearing is concluded. The time now is approximately 12:20 p.m.
Thank you very much. You will come back in a year, Mr. Watson, for another hearing.
MR. OLPIN: Thank you.
(Thereupon the hearing before the Community Release Board was adjourned at 12:20 p.m.)