The defense attorney who represented Charles Manson in the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders and continued to maintain Manson’s innocence after his conviction reportedly died last week at age 100.
Irving Kanarek was known as loud and combative in the courtroom – by the third day of testimony in the Manson murder trial he had already objected to questions 300 times, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Manson Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi said in his book, “Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders,” that reporters focused too much on Kanarek’s “bombast and missed his effectiveness,” though Bugliosi was largely critical of the lawyer.
Kanarek, born in Seattle in 1920, worked in the aerospace industry before becoming an attorney in California in 1957.
Of Manson, Kanarek said he was “personable” and continued to claim his client had “nothing” to do with the murders of actress Sharon Tate, supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary, and others.
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Still, Kanarek said, he wouldn’t avoid defending someone because they were guilty.
“I would defend a client who I knew was guilty of horrific crimes,” he said, according to the Times. “They have to be proved guilty. I’ve had cases where people were guilty as hell but they couldn’t prove it. And if they can’t prove it, he’s not guilty. That’s American justice.”
Kanarek’s daughters said they remember him as warm, adding he always had “a one-liner in his back pocket,” the Times reported.
On Aug. 9, 1969, Manson’s followers brutally murdered everyone at a gathering at Tate’s Los Angeles home at his direction, including Tate — the wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski — who was pregnant.
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The next night Manson went along with his group for a random murder. He told his followers to kill Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, who were sitting on their couch in their home.
Manson and his followers were sentenced to death in 1971 but the sentences were commuted to life in prison when California’s Supreme Court ruled against capital punishment. The ruling was later overturned.
Manson died in prison in 2017.