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Ex-follower of Charles Manson tries to stop LAPD from getting audio tapes

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LOS ANGELES -- Former Manson follower and convicted murderer Charles "Tex" Watson has filed a legal motion to stop Los Angeles Police from taking possession of long unheard audio tape recordings of Watson speaking to his attorney.

The recordings were made 43 years ago, after Watson's arrest for his involvement in the Tate-LaBianca murders of seven people, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate.

Only in recent months did police learn the tapes had surfaced in a Texas bankruptcy proceeding, following the death of Watson's attorney Bill Boyd.


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LAPD’s effort to obtain the tapes was not known publicly until it was reported by NBC4 News last month.

Police want the tapes in the belief "Watson discussed additional unsolved murders committed by followers of Charles Manson," according to a letter the department sent the East Texas Bankruptcy Court.

Watson, now 66, is serving a life sentence in California's Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Amador County, outside Sacramento.

Last month, bankruptcy Judge Brenda T. Rhoades signed an order that the tapes be turned over to LAPD effective Thursday, June 14.

Last week, a legal motion signed by Watson himself asks the court to "revise" its decision.

Watson proposes that LAPD be allowed only to listen to the tape recordings, and not be given possession of them. The listening would be done "in the presence of the trustee or a court designed person," according to Watson's filing.

Such an arrangement is not adequate, according to LAPD Commander Andrew Smith.

"Just to sit down and listen with a lawyer in the room, that's not really how our detectives get into the details," Smith told NBC4 News.

In Watson's filing, he wrote of a concern that if LAPD gets the tapes, media could use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain them, and that "could be hurtful to the families of victims."

Police note that in the 1970s, Watson allowed the tapes to be released to a prison chaplain, Ray Hoekstra, for the purpose of writing a book on Watson published under the title, "Will You Die for Me?"

The book was written "to respect the victim's (sic) families...to show delicate consideration when sharing the graphic details of the crime," Watson wrote. The book did not reveal additional unsolved murders.

Watson contends he did not discuss such murders on the tapes.

"That remains to be seen," Smith said. "We've got eight hours of audio tapes to listen to. Hopefully we can solve some crimes with it."

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