The prosecutor who helped jail members of Charles Manson’s murderous cult said surviving members of the gang should never be released.
“The crime was simply too heinous,” said Stephen Kay, who was a young prosecutor – aged just 27 – when 50 years ago he joined one of America’s most notorious cases.
Mr Kay, now 76, has attended around 60 parole hearings since then and his view that the perpetrators should remain in jail has not changed.
The case came to define Mr Kay’s career and lead to death threats that he still worries a Manson sycophant may try to carry out.
“I don’t dwell on it, but I’m careful. I always look around to see if I’m being followed or anything,” he told the AP news agency.
Manson, whose crimes in the summer of 1969 shocked America, died in 2017 at age 83. He had spent more than four decades behind bars.
Manson led a cult known as the Manson Family in the late 1960s in which he instructed followers to kill in a bid to initiate a race war. His followers committed nine murders at four locations.
They were committed by Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Linda Kasabian – who brought a knife but did not participate in the killings – and Patricia Krenwinkl.
Atkins died in jail from natural causes aged 61, and Kasabian was granted immunity for her testimony.
In the early hour s of 9 August 1969, members of the cult repeatedly stabbed actress Sharon Tate, the heavily pregnant wife of Hollywood director Roman Polanski, and then stabbed or shot to death four other people at her home.
Supposedly inspired by Manson’s reading of the Beatles song Helter Skelter, the killers scrawled such phrases as “Pigs” and “Healter Skelter” (sic) in blood at the crime scenes.
The following night, Manson’s group entered the home of grocery store chain owner Leno LaBianca and his wife, and stabbed the couple to death.
Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Manson maintained during his trial in 1970 that he was innocent, blaming society instead.
“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,” he said in courtroom.
In 1971 Manson was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people.
Mr Kay said the Manson trial was “definitely the most bizarre” case he ever tried, adding: “It was almost a circus”.
Manson and his followers carved Xs into their foreheads to show disdain for society.
At one point, the cult leader leapt over the defence table with a pencil in hand and shouted at the judge that someone should cut off his head.
Outside the courthouse, Manson followers gathered daily to sing songs and even threaten to set themselves on fire.
Mr Kay said two young female followers sneaked up alongside him in the courthouse parking lot.
“They said they were going to do to my house what was done at the Tate house,” he said.
He added that Manson, who died in jail in 2017, threatened to kill him from behind bars.
Mr Kay, who has been retired for several years, is still in contact with Sharon Tate’s younger sister, Debra, after growing close to the family during the trials and numerous parole hearings.
He said despite new books and films about Manson coming out every year, the public should not expect one from him.
“It would be nice if it would just go away,” he said of the public’s continuing fascination with Manson.
“But, it’s the case that never goes away.”
Source: SKY NEWS