Sunday, July 17, 2022

Mark Ross (Aesop Aquarian) Biography

The following is a detailed biography of Mark Ross written by Gary Baum for "The Hollywood Reporter" (July 15,2022). Click the Link Below to read:

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/general-news/aesop-aquarian-life-story-manson-family-1235180433/


My Review:

I was happy to see that the author (Baum) confirmed Ross' death. For weeks, I was searching for something (that I could share publicly) as proof of his passing. This article fits the bill.

Baum does a good job of recounting Ross' wealthy upbringing in Brentwood, Los Angeles. It seems Ross rubbed elbows with several celebrities. This is contrasted with Ross' dysfunctional home life. In short, "the core issue in our family was that there just wasn’t much love". Ross' younger brother explains how Mark got into "tons of trouble". He was sent to boarding school as a problem child. But again, it was a boarding school catering to rich kids. Ross had a short stint with the Marines.

Ultimately, Ross aspired to be an actor. He held mostly small roles. To quote Baum, "He was a bit player, not a leading man, making ends meet with background work, music gigs and assorted side hustles".

Ross bumps into Susan Bartell and Madeline Cottage while they are panhandling in Santa Monica. Ross invites them to stay at his house in Venice and the rest is history.

Worthy of note regarding timeline: 
Ross became involved with "The Manson Family" following the TLB murders, but before the perpetrators were charged. "The notorious Tate-LaBianca murders had occurred the previous summer, but the culprits had not yet been apprehended"

Manson was being held on auto theft charges when Ross entered the scene. According to Baum, "Ross got to know Manson only during prison visits, which were encouraged by Family members". While being held on those auto theft charges, Manson was indicted for the TLB murders.

As we know, John Philip Haught died from a gunshot wound in Ross' apartment. To his credit, Baum invests considerable time and effort discussing several reasons why Zero's death has always been considered suspicious. I think this was a classy move, because no discussion of Zero can be complete without underscoring the questionable circumstances surrounding his death. Ross on the other hand, is much more dismissive of the murder theory, simply stating: "Perhaps it had been a game of Russian roulette, or a suicide. At least those were the theories offered to me by my housemates" (paraphrased). 

Starviego mentions on a previous post that Ross was the owner of the revolver used in Zero's death. If that is indeed the case, I feel Baum should have mentioned that information in the article. That's significant information. That might also explain why Ross is so dismissive and evasive of the murder theory?

Another thing that struck me as an oversight, is that Baum never mentions that Paul Watkins was sleeping inside Ross' vehicle when it was torched. Again, I think that's significant information. And once again, Ross is dismissive: "Maybe it (the fire) was just an accident. Mercury could well have been in retrograde".

According to Baum, Ross decided to leave (The Family) when Family members asked Ross to kill Bugliosi and the Judge. This is brand new to me. I'm not making any judgements either way, except to say, I've never heard this information shared before...

And Finally, of course, we have the famous "Manson" movie. I think it's safe to say, that Ross' connection to this famous movie is his most recognizable affiliation with "The Family".

In Baum's words:
Yet before Aesop severed ties with the Family, he claims he proposed the idea for, and brokered the necessary participation required to complete "Manson", which was nominated for a best documentary feature Oscar in 1973. The co-directors, Robert Hendrickson and Laurence Merrick — respectively, a fellow student at his acting school and the teacher of their class — have both since died. 

From there, Baum does a great job of chronicling Ross' adventures and misadventures through several more decades. I will leave that to your own reading.

Best Regards, LS

Friday, June 17, 2022

The Defense Team - Ronald Hughes, Irving Kanarek, Daye Shinn, Paul Fitzgerald

Los Angeles Public Library

Ronald Hughes - Born March 1935 - Died November 1970 (aged 35)

Ronald Hughes was the first attorney Manson chose, but he was replaced by Irving Kanarek two weeks before the start of the trial. From there, he eventually represented Leslie Van Houten.

He failed the bar exam three times before passing and had never tried a case. Hughes was called "the hippie lawyer".

As attorney for Van Houten, Hughes tried to separate the interests of his client from those of Manson. He hoped to show that Van Houten was not acting independently, but instead, was completely controlled in her actions by Manson.

In November 1970, Hughes went missing following a camping trip in a remote area of Ventura County, California. When court reconvened on November 30, Hughes failed to appear. On December 2, Judge Older ordered the trial to proceed and appointed a new attorney, Maxwell Keith, for Van Houten. 

On March 29, 1971, Hughes' decomposed body was discovered by two fishermen. His body was found wedged between two boulders in a gorge. Hughes was later positively identified by dental X-rays. The cause of his death was 'undetermined'.

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Irving Kanarek - May 12, 1920 - September 2, 2020 (aged 100)

Kanarek had a reputation as an obstructionist. In the TLB trial, Kanarek objected nine times during opening statements. (Reminds me of the Depp/Heard trial).

Kanarek believed that everyone was entitled to their day in court. He once said, "I would defend a client that I knew was guilty of horrific crimes. They have to be proven 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. In that case, the person walks free. That’s American justice.”

Manson called Kanarek "the worst man in town I could pick".

Kanarek was ordered to be inactive by the California State Bar in 1990.

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Daye Shinn - Died 2006

Daye Shinn was 53 at the time of the trial. He was a former used-car salesman of Korean descent. He represented Susan Atkins.

Shinn was disbarred in 1992 for botching a trial. He represented a man (tried for the murder of a police officer) so poorly, that the conviction had to be vacated. Story below:

https://apnews.com/article/15a9dd4a3542652aa7f0069cd23d57ce

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Paul Fitzgerald - Died at 64 

Fitzgerald was 33 at the time of the trial. Technically, Fitzgerald's client was Patricia Krenwinkel, but his fellow lawyers were novices, and it fell to Mr. Fitzgerald to become the strategist for all three female defendants. He is widely considered the most polished and capable of the team.

Fitzgerald was often undercut by his colleagues. He usually cross-examined prosecution witnesses first, then had to watch in agony while Hughes and Kanarek clumsily plowed his points under.

Paul Fitzgerald died of a heart ailment at 64.

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Charles Hollopeter - Honorable Mention

Judge Keene assigned Hollopeter to Manson in the early days of the trial, and like a fool, Manson wouldn't have him. Hollopeter was considered an outstanding lawyer. Instead, Manson hand-picked Ronald Hughes (the attorney with the least experience in Los Angeles County).

Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection

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The Aftermath:

Manson devised a ploy that the girls would take the stand, confess all, and absolve him of all responsibility. In short, the girls would take the fall, and say they acted independently.

Fitzgerald realized the girls would be convicted, and Manson would damn himself by demonstrating the prosecution’s contention that he has mesmerizing power.

Hughes, Kanarek and Shinn agreed with Fitzgerald, that it was their duty to keep their clients off the stand. The Defense rested.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Mark Ross has Died

I've been told by a reliable source that Mark Ross aka "Aesop Aquarian" has died.

I don’t have any further information or details at this time, sorry…

Photo from Cielodrive.com

As you probably recall, the above photograph (of Ross) was taken the day Judge Keene appointed a lawyer for Charles Manson. The judge described Manson as being "hopelessly inadequate" to defend himself. Keene appointed Charles Hollopeter for the task.

Manson protested, exclaiming that he wouldn't take an attorney. And of course, his minions followed suit by causing a commotion. In the end, Mark Ross, Catherine Share & Sandra Good were sentenced to 5 days in jail for contempt of court for their disruption.

My condolences to his family and friends.

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Ross' significance to the Manson story (written by Starviego):

-- The Family was staying at his Venice house where Zero allegedly shot himself, and was the owner of the revolver used.

-- It was his truck Watkins was sleeping in when someone decided to torch it.

-- Ross' house was fairly close to both the Straight Satans' Venice clubhouse and to the apartment of intended victim Saladin Nader.

-- Ross reportedly attended the acting school set up by Laurence Merrick, producer of the Hendrickson documentary. Sharon was also allegedly a student at this school.

-- Ross had a role as a biker in Merrick's "The Black Angels". Filmed in Agoura before TLB, the set was visited by members of the Family.

-- Ross helped Hendrickson film the Manson documentary, and probably introduced him to the Family.

-- Mark Ross had a guest appearance on the "Starsky & Hutch" tv show, playing a very Manson-like cult leader.