Judge stops LAPD warrant for Manson follower tapes
DALLAS (AP) — A federal judge in Texas has blocked an effort by Los Angeles police to use a search warrant to obtain decades-old tapes of conversations between a Manson family disciple and his now-deceased trial attorney.
U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell's ruling stopped authorities from executing a search warrant earlier this month for the office of the bankruptcy trustee who has eight cassette tapes containing hours of conversations between Charles "Tex" Watson and attorney Bill Boyd.
Schell took the Los Angeles Police Department to task for what the judge called an apparent attempt to circumvent a court order making the tapes off limits until Watson's appeal of a previous ruling in bankruptcy court can be heard.
"This court understands and respects the desire of the LAPD to seek access to the 42-year-old tapes," Schell wrote in an Oct. 5 ruling. "However, the LAPD has provided no explanation as to why this court should shortcut the usual procedure for determining a bankruptcy appeal given that the investigation the LAPD wishes to reopen involves murders that occurred 42 years ago."
The LAPD is seeking the tapes on the belief that Watson, serving a life sentence in California for his role in the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others, may have discussed other unsolved murders with Boyd.
Boyd, who died in 2009, represented Watson when the Manson follower fled to his home state after the murders. The tapes are now in the possession of Linda Payne, the trustee in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding involving the law firm where Boyd worked.
In May, the bankruptcy court judge ruled that the LAPD should get the tapes because Watson waived his right to attorney-client privilege when he made them available to the co-author of his 1978 book "Will You Die for Me? The Man Who Killed for Charles Manson Tells His Own Story." The ruling by Judge Brenda Rhoades in effect supported Payne, who testified that she believed there was no reason not to give police the tapes.
Watson is appealing the decision, and Schell granted a stay until he can hear arguments from both sides. Attorneys for Watson and Payne are still preparing their briefs.
Andrew Smith, an LAPD spokesman, said Thursday he couldn't immediately comment on the matter.
Payne sought an emergency ruling from Schell on the search warrant after law enforcement officials from Los Angeles and Fort Worth showed up at her Dallas office on Oct. 3 seeking to search the premises, court records show.
Payne wrote that the intent to search her office put her "between a rock and a hard place" because, no matter how she responded, she could be considered in contempt.
"If (Payne) complies with the warrant, she risks contempt of this court's stay order," her motion stated. "If (Payne) fails to comply with the warrant, she risks being held in contempt by the state court (that issued it)."
Payne's attorney, Mark Weisbart, said he couldn't comment about the search warrant without consulting Payne, who he said was travelling abroad. Watson's attorney, Kelly Puls, said he wasn't surprised to learn that the LAPD tried to circumvent Schell's order but declined further comment.
The search warrant was signed by state District Judge Mike Snipes 45 minutes before the law enforcement officials sought to execute it. The warrant authorized the officials to seize the tapes "and any other criminal evidence associated with the offense of murder."
The search warrant affidavit, prepared by a Fort Worth police detective using information from the LAPD, has been sealed by Snipes.
In an interview, Snipes said he sealed the affidavit at the request of law enforcement officials who cited the sensitivity of the case and the fact that they believed evidence could be destroyed if the document was made public.
"They convinced me," Snipes said. "I wouldn't have done it otherwise."
Watson, a native of the small North Texas community of Copeville, was a key figure in the Tate-La Bianca murders, one of the most notorious crimes of the 20th century. He, Manson and three others were sentenced to death, but the sentences were commuted to life in prison when the death penalty was briefly outlawed in California in 1972.
According to Payne's testimony in bankruptcy court, Boyd sold copies of the tapes to the co-author of Watson's book for $49,000 to cover his legal fees after the killer waived his right to attorney-client privilege. Given those circumstances, the tapes should be made available to the LAPD, she testified.
But Watson, now 66, has argued in court documents that he waived his attorney-client privilege only for the book. He has stated that he's willing to allow the LAPD to listen to the tapes but not take possession of them because he's concerned that the media would gain access as well.
"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 in a motion filed in June.
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 21, 2013
- 7 of Rihanna's Worst Looks
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 17, 2013
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 16, 2013
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 15, 2013
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 14, 2013
- 7 Most Outrageous Gwyneth Paltrow Quotes
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 10, 2013
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 9, 2013
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 8, 2013
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 7, 2013
- 7 Best Bikini Bods
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 3, 2013
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 2, 2013
- 7 Wonders of the Wall for May 1, 2013
See how this country cutie has changed her looks over the years.Watch Video »
Robert Pattinson has moved out of the house he shared with Kristen Stewart, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
Who Am I?
Check out how Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and more stars of "Fast & Furious 6" looked when they were in high school.Watch Video »
From Kim Kardashian to Jessica Alba, see the worst celeb sunburns.Watch Video »
Check out some of Rihanna's worst wardrobe choices on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
From the Olsens to the Mowrys, see some of Hollywood's most famous twins.Watch Video »
- Party AnimalsCheck out some of Hollywood's biggest party animals.Watch Video »
- Carrie's ChangesSee how this country cutie has changed her looks over the years.Watch Video »
- Moving OutRobert Pattinson has moved out of the house he shared with Kristen Stewart, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders.Watch Video »
- Who Am I?Check out how Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and more stars of "Fast & Furious 6" looked when they were in high school.Watch Video »
- LovebirdsFind out what Jessica Alba and Cash Warren tweeted to each other on their fifth wedding anniversary on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- Worst LooksCheck out some of Rihanna's worst wardrobe choices on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- What's Sexy?Heidi Klum hangs with two comedy legends and shares what she finds most sexy in a man on today's Celebs Gone Social ...Watch Video »
- Sexy SecretsVictoria's Secret model Adriana Lima talks about the What's Sexy list, her model friends and more with Wonderwall.Watch Video »
- American TravelsGet the Prince's travel details on Replay hosted by Wonderwall's Kirby Kristen.Watch Video »
- Birthday GirlTori Spelling turns 40, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Fashion OffendersFlorence Welch, Zoe Saldana, and Ali Larter all get an F on this week's Fashion OffendersWatch Video »
- Bikini BurnsFrom Kim Kardashian to Jessica Alba, see the worst celeb sunburns.Watch Video »
- Double TroubleFrom the Olsens to the Mowrys, see some of Hollywood's most famous twins.Watch Video »
- Roasted?Lindsay Lohan refuses to be roasted, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Beach WorkoutsFrom Julianne Hough to Alessandra Ambrosio, see celebs who get their fitness on in the sand.Watch Video »
- Miley's MusicMiley Cyrus mixes music and fashion while ignoring her relationship status, on today's Celebs Gone Social.Watch Video »
- Royal AdviceSnooki gives Prince Harry some advice, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Country CutiesCheck out the hottest couples in country music.Watch Video »
- Queen's FeastBeyonce had a major feast in Dublin, plus more celeb stories on 7 Wonders, hosted by Tim Kash.Watch Video »
- Bump DebutSelena Gomez breaks some pregnancy news on Twitter on today's Celebs Gone Social.Watch Video »
- Crazy QuotesCheck out some of Gwyneth Paltrow's craziest quotes.Watch Video »
From Videos of Wonderwall
From MSN Entertainment
From Crowd Ignite