Irving Kanarek, Lawyer Who Defended Charles Manson, Dies at 100

Irving Kanarek, Lawyer Who Defended Charles Manson, Dies at 100


A day later, the bodies of a grocery magnate, Leno LaBianca, and his wife, Rosemary, were found in their Los Angeles home. They had been killed in ferocious attacks that left little doubt they had been slain by the same people who killed Ms. Tate and her companions.

Within months, Mr. Manson and four followers were arrested and implicated by Linda Kasabian, an accomplice who admitted her role in the crimes. Ms. Kasabian was granted immunity and became the state’s star witness in a trial that began in July 1970 and lasted six months. (Charles Watson, a cult member who joined in the killings, was committed to a mental institution and not tried with the others.)

Mr. Kanarek’s courtroom tactics — a Niagara of objections, interruptions, shouting matches with the judge and witnesses, shoving incidents with two prosecutors and a scuffle with his client, who repeatedly tried to fire him — made him an outcast in some legal circles, but in others an exemplar of legal tenacity. He was jailed twice for contempt of court and vilified by much of the press and public.

The state called 84 witnesses and adduced that Mr. Manson, hoping to trigger an apocalyptic race war in America, had planned and ordered the killings, which were executed by his co-defendants, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, and by Mr. Watson. The defense rested without calling a single witness because, Mr. Kanarek said, the three women wanted to confess on the stand to “save” Mr. Manson.

In 1971, all four defendants were convicted of murder and conspiracy and sentenced to die in the gas chamber. Mr. Kanarek scoffed at the rulings and the trial.

“It was entertainment for the public,” he said.

A year later, when California’s death penalty was temporarily invalidated, the sentences were commuted to life in prison. Mr. Manson was never released. He died in 2017 at 83.



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