Tex and Charlie: The People of California v. Charles “Tex” Watson

Tex and Charlie: The People of California v. Charles “Tex” Watson
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-07-20
Unit 1Slide Deck: Tex and Charlie
Unit 2Transcript: Tex and Charlie
Unit 3Workbook: Tex and Charlie
Unit 4Recording: Tex and Charlie

Charlie Manson is notorious for bringing together a group that is responsible for a series of murders in the Los Angeles area. However, it was his first Lieutenant, Charles, “Tex” Watson that actually made these happen. This session will unpack the Tate-LaBianca murders, Tex Watson, and the Manson family’s involvement in these gruesome cases.

Back on the Justice Clearinghouse for another of his retrospective case review is Judge Brandon Birmingham. He is the Elected Judge of the 292nd Judicial District Court, a felony trial court where he is the presiding judge of the Felony Domestic Violence Court program and the presiding judge of the Criminal District Courts Dallas County.

Specifics of this session include:

  • Resources used for this case study and the key takeaways related to the value of circumstantial evidence and proving motive.
  • Digesting the case details of the 10050 Cielo Drive and the 3301 Waverly Drive murders – the victims, the weapons used, and evidence collected from the crime scene.
  • Establishing motive for the murders based on the evidence gathered and its parallels between the two cases.
  • The critical piece of evidence found in the crime scene that paved the way for identifying the perpetrators.
  • How an incarcerated Susan Atkins implicated one Charles Tex Watson for the Tate and LaBianca cases.
  • Getting to know Tex Watson – his upbringing, how he ended up in California, how he met Charlie Manson and became a part of the Manson family.
  • Charlie Manson’s aspiration to be a musician, how Terry Melcher ‘crushed’ it, and the probable beginning of his motive against Terry Melcher.
  • Manson family values: The worldview that Charlie Manson preached within the group, life in the Spahn Ranch, and Charlie Manson’s personal interpretation of songs in the Beatles’ White Album.
  • Charlie Manson’s concept of Helter Skelter where he anticipated a race war that would pave the way for his plan to take over the world.
  • Linda Kasabian’s testimony that corroborated the timeline of events and facts of the murder cases in Cielo Drive and Waverly Drive, and supported the defeat of Tex Watson’s not guilty plea.
  • Tex Watson’s attempt to evade conviction by pleading not guilty by reason of insanity and not guilty because he didn’t premeditate the crime.
  • A rundown of the circumstantial evidence that defeated the insanity defense and proved motive.
  • The court’s decision for the cases and Tex Watson.

Questions from the audience were about:

  • How Charlie Manson overpowered World War II veteran Leno LaBianca.
  • Factors that made Tex Watson Vulnerable to the ‘spell’ of Charlie Manson.
  • Selecting and researching for the cases to review.
  • Insanity defense and why didn’t it work for Tex Watson.
  • The primary lessons for law enforcement and prosecutors from the Tate-LaBianca cases.


Webinars with this Presenter:


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Old cases still fascinate. Deconstruct good, basic police work for which to lay a solid foundation for prosecution. Judge Birmingham should consider a two-hour presentation on this case due to how shocking the case was at the time and continues to be. I enjoyed this webinar.” — Celia
  • “Excellent speaker and a different approach to crime scene analysis. Loved it.” — Nathalie
  • “Ideas for presenting a trial was the best thing. The presentation was fantastic and informative. I thought I knew more about the case–I was proved wrong.” — Denise
  • “Great topic, great presentation. I had heard about this case but always from one side. It was good to hear it from a legal side and the good points that were made, for example, the evidence and the claim on insanity.”– C. Stephanie
  • “Interesting analysis.” — Henry


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