DALLAS – A Manson family member whose recorded conversations with his late attorney are part of a Texas bankruptcy proceeding says Los Angeles police should be allowed to listen to the tapes but not take possession of them.
Charles "Tex" Watson wrote in a motion filed last week that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Brenda T. Rhoades should reconsider her ruling allowing the LAPD to obtain the eight cassette tapes. The tapes made four decades ago are of conversations between Watson and attorney Bill Boyd, whose firm is now in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Giving the tapes to the LAPD outright could result in media gaining access, and that would create "a public dishonor" to those "emotionally attached" to the Manson murders, Watson wrote. He prepared the motion from the California prison where he is serving a life sentence for his role in the 1969 killings of actress Sharon Tate and six others.
"I understand these are the consequences of my crime, but there should be no more victims," Watson wrote, underlining the last three words.
Watson said allowing the LAPD to listen to the tapes should be enough to answer the question, raised by LAPD chief Charlie Beck in a letter to the court, of whether Manson and his followers were responsible for other killings.
"If this be so, and it is not, the request of the LAPD can be satisfied by listening to the tapes without taking possession of them," Watson wrote. The word "not" is underlined.
A May 29 ruling by Rhoades gave the LAPD the right to obtain the tapes, made in 1971 or 1972.
Boyd, who died in 2009, represented Watson, a native of the small North Texas town of Copeville, when the Manson disciple fled to his home state after the murders.
LAPD spokesman Andrew Smith said Monday that Watson's motion hasn't changed the department's plan to send detectives to obtain the tapes after Rhoades' order becomes final Thursday.
"We hope we can take possession and continue our investigation as soon as possible," Smith said.
Court records do not indicate whether Rhoades plans a hearing on Watson's motion.
Copies of the tapes previously were made 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."
During the May 29 hearing, bankruptcy trustee Linda Payne said Boyd sold those copies to the book's co-author for $49,000 to cover legal fees after Watson waived his right to attorney-client privilege. Because of that waiver, there was no reason for the judge to block the LAPD's request, Payne said.
But Watson argued in his motion that he waived his attorney-client privilege "for no other reason" than the book.
"In the eyes of justice, I am fully willing for the LAPD to listen to the tapes to satisfy their investigation, but not to take possession, since they are not their property," he wrote.
Watson, now 66, was convicted of all seven murders. He, Manson and three other 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 the cult leader'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."