In June 1970, just two weeks before the start of the Tate-LaBianca murder trial, Judge Older approved Manson's request to substitute as his attorney Irving Kanarek for Ronald Hughes. Noting that Manson had made a very disparaging comment about Kanarek, Judge Older asked Manson if he was sure that he wanted a change of lawyers. Manson replied:
"In a lot of respects, [Kanarek] he would be the worst attorney I could take....I don't think there is any attorney that can represent me as well as I can represent myself. I am smart enough to realize I am not an attorney, and I will sit behind these men and I won't make a scene. I am not here to make trouble...
"There is a lot involved here that does not meet the eye. A person is born, he goes to school, he learns what he is told in a book, and he lives his life by what he knows. The only thing he knows is what someone has told him. He is educated; he does what an educated person does.
"But go out of this realm, you go into a generation gap, a free-love society, you get into insane drugs or smoking marijuana....There is no way that you can know the taste of water unless you drink it or unless it has rained on you or unless you jump in the river."
JUDGE OLDER: "All I want to do, Mr. Manson, is find out if you are happy with Mr. Kanarek or if you have second thoughts."
MANSON: "I thought I explained that. I would not be happy with anyone but myself. No man can represent me....."
JUDGE OLDER: "It would be a miscarriage of justice to permit you to represent yourself in a case having the complications this case has....Are you affirming Mr. Kanarek as your attorney?"
MANSON: "I am forced into a situation. My second alternative is to cause you as much trouble as possible."
On November 20, 1970, Charles Manson announced in court that he wished to testify. Rather than be questioned by his attorney, Irving Kanarek, Manson asked permission to make a statement. Judge Older granted his request. His statement, made outside the presence of the jury, lasted over an hour. The following are excerpts from Manson's statement, followed by Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's brief cross-examination:
There has been a lot of charges and a lot of things said about me and brought against the co-defendants in this case, of which a lot could be cleared up and clarified. . . .
I never went to school, so I never growed up to read and write too good, so I have stayed in jail and I have stayed stupid, and I have stayed a child while I have watched your world grow up, and then I look at the things that you do and I don't understand. . . .
You eat meat and you kill things that are better than you are, and then you say how bad, and even killers, your children are. You made your children what they are. . . .
These children that come at you with knives. they are your children. You taught them. I didn't teach them. I just tried to help them stand up. . . .
Most of the people at the ranch that you call the Family were just people that you did not want, people that were alongside the road, that their parents had kicked out, that did not want to go to Juvenile Hall. So I did the best I could and I took them up on my garbage dump and I told them this: that in love there is no wrong. . . .
I told them that anything they do for their brothers and sisters is good if they do it with a good thought. . . .
I was working at cleaning up my house, something that Nixon should have been doing. He should have been on the side of the road, picking up his children, but he wasn't. He was in the White House, sending them off to war. . . .
I don't understand you, but I don't try. I don't try to judge nobody. I know that the only person I can judge is me . . . But I know this: that in your hearts and your own souls, you are as much responsible for the Vietnam war as I am for killing these people. . . .
I can't judge any of you. I have no malice against you and no ribbons for you. But I think that it is high time that you all start looking at yourselves, and judging the lie that you live in.
I can't dislike you, but I will say this to you: you haven't got long before you are all going to kill yourselves, because you are all crazy. And you can project it back at me . . . but I am only what lives inside each and everyone of you.
My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system. . . I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you.
I have ate out of your garbage cans to stay out of jail. I have wore your second-hand clothes. . . I have done my best to get along in your world and now you want to kill me, and I look at you, and then I say to myself, You want to kill me? Ha! I'm already dead, have been all my life. I've spent twenty-three years in tombs that you built.
Sometimes I think about giving it back to you; sometimes I think about just jumping on you and letting you shoot me . . . If I could, I would jerk this microphone off and beat your brains out with it, because that is what you deserve, that is what you deserve. . . .
If I could get angry at you, I would try to kill everyone of you. If that's guilt, I accept it . . .These children, everything they done, they done for the love of their brother. . . .
If I showed them that I would do anything for my brother--including giving my life for my brother on the battlefield--and then they pick up their banner, and they go off and do what they do, that is not my responsibility. I don't tell people
what to do . . . .
These children [indicating the female defendants] were finding themselves. What they did, if they did whatever they did, is up to them. They will have to explain that to you. . . .
It's all your fear. You look for something to project it on, and you pick out a little old scroungy nobody that eats out of a garbage can, and that nobody wants, that was kicked out of the penitentiary, that has been dragged through every hellhole that you can think of, and you drag him and put him in a courtroom.
You expect to break me? Impossible! You broke me years ago. You killed me years ago. . . .
[Judge Older asked Manson if he had anything further to say.]
I have killed no one and I have ordered no one to be killed. I may have implied on several different occasions to several different people that I may have been Jesus Christ, but I haven't decided yet what I am or who I am. Some called him Christ, Manson said. In prison his name was a number. Some now want a sadistic fiend, and so they see him as that. So be it. Guilty. Not guilty. They are only words. You can do anything you want with me, but you cannot touch me because I am only my love. . . If you put me in the penitentiary, that means nothing because you kicked me out of the last one. I didn't ask to get released. I liked it in there because I like myself.
[ Judge Older told Manson, "You seem to be getting far afield." He told Manson to stick to the issue raised in the trial.]
The issues? . . . Mr. Bugliosi is a hard-driving prosecutor, polished education, a master of words, semantics. He is a genius. He has got everything that every lawyer would want to have except one thing: a case. He doesn't have a case. Were I allowed to defend myself, I could have proven this to you. . .The evidence in this case is a gun. There was a gun that laid around the ranch. It belonged to everybody. Anybody could have picked that gun up and done anything they wanted to do with it. I don't deny having that gun. That gun has been in my possession many times. Like the rope was there because you need rope on a ranch. . . .It is really convenient that Mr. Baggot found those clothes. I imagine he got a little taste of money for that. . . .They put the hideous bodies on [photographic] display and they imply: If he gets out, see what will happen to you. . . .[Helter Skelter] means confusion, literally. It doesn't mean any war with anyone. It doesn't mean that some people are going to kill other people. . . Helter Skelter is confusion. Confusion is coming down around you fast. If you can't see the confusion coming down around you fast, you can call it what you wish. . Is it a conspiracy that the music is telling the youth to rise up against the establishment because the establishment is rapidly destroying things? Is that a conspiracy? The music speaks to you every day, but you are too deaf, dumb, and blind to even listen to the music. . . It is not my conspiracy. It is not my music. I hear what it relates. It says "Rise," it says "Kill." Why blame it on me? I didn't write the music. . . .
Danny DeCarlo. . .said that I hate black men, and he said that we thought alike. . . But actually all I ever did with Danny DeCarlo or any other human being was reflect him back at himself. If he said he did not like the black man, I would say 'O.K.' So consequently he would drink another beer and walk off and say 'Charlie thinks like I do.' But actually he does not know how Charlie thinks because Charlie has never projected himself. I don't think like you people. You people put importance on your lives. Well, my life has never been important to anyone. . . .
[Linda Kasabian] gets on the stand and she says when she looked in that man's eyes that was dying, she knew that it was my fault. She knew it was my fault because she couldn't face death. And if she can't face death, that is not my fault. I can face death. I have all the time. In the penitentiary you live with it, with constant fear of death, because it is a violent world in there, and you have to be on your toes constantly. . . .
[I taught the Family] not to be weak and not to lean on me. . . .I told [Paul Watkins],"To be a man, boy, you have to stand up and be your own father." So he goes off to the desert and finds a father image in Paul Crockett. . . .
I do feel some responsibility. I feel a responsibility for the pollution. I feel a responsibility for the whole thing. . . .To be honest with you, I don't recall ever saying "Get a knife and a change of clothes and go do what Tex says." Or I don't recall saying "Get a knife and go kill the sheriff." In fact, it makes me mad when someone kills snakes or dogs or cats or horses.
I don't even like to eat meat-that is how much I am against killing. . . .
I haven't got any guilt about anything because I have never been able to see any wrong. . . I have always said: Do what your love tells you, and I do what my love tells me . . . Is it my fault that your children do what you do? What about your children? You say there are just a few? There are many, many more, coming in the same direction. They are running in the streets-and they are coming right at you!
Cross-examination by Vincent Bugliosi:
Q. You say you are already dead, is that right, Charlie?
A. Dead in your mind or dead in my mind?
Q. Define it any way you want to.
A. As any child will tell you, dead is when you are no more. It is just when you are not there. If you weren't there, you would be dead.
Q. How long have you been dead? . . To be precise about it, you think you have been dead for close to 2,000
years, don't you?
A. Mr. Bugliosi, 2,000 years is relative to the second we live in.
Q. Suffice it to say, Department 104 is a long way from Calvary, isn't that true?...
Q. The jury in this case never heard a single, solitary word you said. . .Mr. Manson, are you willing to testify in front of the jury and tell them the same things that you have testified to here in open court today?
[ Kanarek objected and Judge Older sustained the objection. Older asked Manson if he now wished to testify before the jury. He replied, "I have already relieved all the pressure I had." Manson left the stand. As he walked by the counsel table, he told his three co-defendants, "You don't have to testify now."]
In 1986, Manson sent the California Parole Board a lengthy statement. The following is an excerpt from that statement:
All of the judgments and the blame that is pushed off on me will be reflected back in the fires of the Holy War that call crime....I did invoke a balance for life on Earth. From behind the time locks of courtrooms and from the worlds of darkness, I did let loose devils and demons with the power of scorpions to torment. I did unseal seven seals and seven jars in accord with the judgments placed upon me...You've drugged me for years, dragging me up and down prison hallways, laying my head on every chopping block you've got, chained me, burnt me, but you cannot defeat me...In all that was said about me, it was not me saying it, and if you see a false prophet, it is only a reflection of your own judgments."
In March 1997, the California Parole Board, for the ninth consecutive time, announced that it would deny parole to Charles Manson. The Board gave as its reason that Manson "would pose an unreasonable risk and danger tosociety and a threat to public safety if released from prison." Manson responded briefly to the Board's announcement:
I accept this decision. That's cool. What I'd like for you to do in your own minds personally, everybody that has a personal mind of their own, could possibly consider that the longer that you let this conviction stand, and this little Helter Skelter scheme of the District Attorney to give his particular reality over into the play, that's going to be the reality that they're perpetuating. That's not the reality that I'm perpetuating. I'm not saying that I wasn't involved. I'm saying that I did not break man's law nor did I break God's law. Consider that in the judgments that you have for yourselves. Good day. Thank you.