PLANO, Texas – Los Angeles police are entitled to audio recordings of conversations four decades ago between a Manson family member and his attorney, a Texas judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Brenda T. Rhoades of Plano granted the request allowing police to obtain the eight cassette tapes containing hours of talks between Charles "Tex" Watson and Bill Boyd, a now-deceased Texas attorney who once represented Watson.
Police want to listen to the tapes to learn whether Watson described any unsolved killings in the conversations. They have said they have no specific information on what might be in the recordings.
Officers will be able to obtain them when the court order becomes final in 14 days. "We're hoping 14 days from now we can send our guys there to pick them up," LAPD spokesman Andrew Smith said.
A law firm in McKinney where Boyd once worked has the tapes, and a trustee in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding involving the firm asked the judge to grant legal authority to give police the recordings. Boyd died in 2009.
Watson is serving a life sentence for his role in the 1969 killings of actress Sharon Tate and six other people in Los Angeles. Mass murderer Charles Manson orchestrated the slayings which are part of one of the most notorious murder cases of the 20th century.
Watson previously made the tapes of his and his lawyer's conversations available to the co-author of Watson's 1978 book, "Will You Die for Me? The Man Who Killed for Charles Manson Tells His Own Story."
The Texas judge's ruling came despite an objection from lawyers now representing Watson, who argued Watson didn't waive attorney-client privilege when making the book deal.
In the book, Watson detailed his role in the killings of Tate and the others but didn't mention any unsolved slayings.
Watson went to Texas after the murders and Boyd conducted a long fight to prevent his extradition to California.
According to court records, Watson waived his right to attorney-client privilege in his dealings with Boyd in 1976. During Tuesday's hearing, bankruptcy trustee Linda Payne said Boyd sold copies of the tapes as compensation for his legal services to the co-author of Watson's book for $49,000.
Payne said she hasn't listened to the tapes, made in either 1971 or 1972, and knows of no one else who has heard them. She said the tapes are stored in a safe and Los Angeles police will be able to obtain them when the court's order becomes final in 14 days.
The law firm also has two boxes of documents pertaining to Watson, and Payne said those materials will be turned over to his current attorney, Kendrick Jan of San Diego. Jan did not immediately return calls for comment.
Watson, now 66, was convicted of all seven murders. Watson, Manson and three other Manson followers were sentenced to death but had their sentences commuted to life when the death penalty was briefly outlawed in 1972.
Testimony at the Manson trial cast Watson as Manson's chief lieutenant, the cruel killer who confronted the pregnant Tate and her friends and announced, "I'm the devil and I'm here to do the devil's work."
The night after Tate and four others were slain, Manson followers killed again — this time taking the lives of two more victims.
Associated Press writer Linda Deutsch in Los Angeles contributed to this report.