Tate LaBianca Murders
Forty Years ago, in August 1969, Charles Manson, the founder of the Manson Family, a quasi-commune that arose in California in the late 1960s, used his hypnotic powers to direct the commune members into a two-night murder rampage that terrorized the city of Los Angeles, California, in August 1969 for what he believed would be an impending race war. Among the seven people killed was the pregnant actress Sharon Tate. Her murderer, Susan Atkins held Tate down as she pleaded for mercy and stabbed the pregnant woman 16 times according to her admission of guilt. In a 1993 parole board hearing, Atkins said Tate “asked me to let her baby live. … I told her I didn’t have any mercy on her.”
One of law enforcement’s most infamous crime scene photos was made amongst this complex Tate crime scene–two bodies with multiple stab wounds and tied with rope. One [her lover and noted hairstylist Jay Sebring] appears to have had his head covered with a towel. Furniture appears to have been disturbed and there are items strewn on the floor. It became a textbook case in criminal forensics: one can clearly see ligature, synthetic and hair fibers, foot prints, finger prints, blood spatter patterns and serological analysis in the picture.
The trial was rife with theatrics; the four defendants (including Manson), who would carve X’s in their foreheads, shave their hair and routinely explode in vocal outbursts. At one point, Manson attempted to attack the judge. Meanwhile, his co-defendants tried to remove the blame from Manson by claiming that the real mastermind was an ex-Family member who had testified against them. Outside the courtroom, witnesses were intimidated and injured by Family members, and one of the defense lawyers disappeared and was later found dead. Finally, in January 1971, Manson and his co-defendants were found guilty on all counts and sentenced to death. When California outlawed the death penalty in 1972, however, their sentences were reduced to life in prison.
For more details, see the relevant pages on wikipedia.