MR. DIMARIA (Nephew):
There's no way for me to describe how Charles Watson's crimes have impacted our family or the void my uncle's murder has left, but I will start by telling you that these hearings and what is said in them is part of what haunts us today and sends us back to hell year after year. And while these hearings reopen old but very fresh wounds, I'm grateful for the opportunity to speak on behalf of a man who was a profound source of love and pride for all his family. It is crucial in any matter regarding violent crime that the victim has a voice. It is the silenced voices of Charles Watson's eight victims that brings us here today. I include Sharon's son. To be clear, our family's involvement in these hearings has nothing to do with feelings of anger, vengeance or hatred towards Mr. Watson. Rather, we come out of love, to speak for those who can't speak for themselves. I am not here for Mr. Watson. I'm here for Jay Sebring.
This is the 12th hearing that our family has attended, and over the years there has been much discussion on drug and brainwashing influences, accountability, good behavior behind bars, remorse, forgiveness and rehabilitation, and I'd like to address some of these issues. I ask the Board to deny parole to Charles Watson for reasons too many to list, so I'll focus on the following. The murder of my uncle at the hands of Mr. Watson ripped our family apart and devastated us beyond description. Dozens of our families across the nation know firsthand the hell and suffering resulting from the Manson murder spree. Though Mr. Watson is typically described as a Manson follower, he's anything but. Charles Tex Watson is a cold-blooded and the most lethal killer of the Manson murder clan. He carried out its despicable ideology, he trained his cohorts to kill, conspired, tortured, murdered and desecrated eight people. It is devastating to listen today how a college degree or involvement in self-help groups and victims outreach programs are weighed against the value of my uncle's life or with the memory of my family happy and complete until these murders. While Mr. Watson's behavior behind bars is commendable, it is merely normal for the typical law-abiding citizen. This is noteworthy because it is what he did abnormally that led to his death sentence.
As you ponder the criteria of Mr. Watson's prison record, I ask, is your mother's life or your child's life worth 30 years of NA, AA and outreach programs or a college degree? Each of Charles Watson's victims deserve more. It is imperative to recognize that Charles Watson's crimes and the Manson legacy have become a poisonous societal cancer with destructive and fatal consequences even today. I sadly call to your attention 16-year-old Jason Sweeney, who was murdered by four teenagers, ages ranging 15 to 17. During the trial, the killers admitted listening to Helter Skelter for several hours over and over before murdering the teenager. Jason Sweeney was killed with a hammer, a brick and a hatchet. Jude Conroy, the Philadelphia District Attorney who prosecuted the case, states: "It is really amazing that teenagers in Philadelphia Memorial Day Weekend and contemplating an incredibly violent and brutal murder is attuned to the whole Helter Skelter and Manson mythology. It is a sad testament to the twisted, brutal legacy the Manson murders have left behind, so much so that it attracts 15, 16, 17 year-olds 40 years later, three thousand miles across the country. It is a powerful legacy." For these teens, Charles Watson's murder rampage was exciting and an inspiration to kill. The threat of Charles Watson to society, whether immediate, symbolic or repercussive, is real and current.
Our family has never desired a letter of remorse from Charles Watson or considered forgiveness for his crimes, because frankly Mr. Watson's crimes transcend us. The authority to forgive in this case is beyond any individual or any institution, and lies solely with the eight people he massacred. When people are killed, the privilege of forgiveness from the direct victims is obliterated. It is my belief that any consideration of forgiveness on my part beyond those who have suffered directly is moot and self-serving.
Regarding Mr. Watson's attorney's statement referring to the drug influences as deviations, I respectfully would like to quote Dr. Barbara Freez, MD, Senior Examiner for the Board of Neurology and Psychiatry. "It is not defensible to say Charles Watson was influenced immediately or chronically changed by LSD or speed. No drug has ever produced a sustained psychotic state that would cause a person to carry out organized activity, e.g., as in these murders with regard to the planning, the targeting, murdering, painting messages in blood, wiping the crime scene free of fingerprints, not to mention escaping capture and hiding from authorities. Psychedelic drugs do not make people do psychotic deeds."
Part of what torments me all these years and today is the severity of Charles Watson's crimes and how horribly the victims suffered. The murders dealt seven gunshots, 170 stabbings, and 13 times a blunt object was used to bludgeon. Mr. Watson fired all seven gunshots, crushed a skull he bludgeoned 13 times, and stabbed over one hundred times with a bayonet, butcher knife or a carving fork. He butchered a full-term pregnant woman and her child even as she cried out for the life of her baby. Mr. Watson dealt fatal blows to the all the Tate-LaBianca victims. He mutilated and disfigured victims as they lay dead. It is a twisted travesty that parole could ever be mentioned for mass murderers, let alone Charles Watson's crimes, most callous and inhumane. It is incomprehensible how a man could repeatedly kick a prone man in the face as he lie dying on the ground, how a man could butcher a restrained pregnant woman and her defenseless child, how a man could riddle a teenager trapped in his car with bullets, how a man could stand before his victim tied to a chair, his hands tied behind his back, and chose to shove a carving fork or butcher knife 20 to 36 times into his victim's body, how a man could team up with another killer and stab a woman 41 times, 36 times in the back.
In stark contrast, it pains me to know my uncle's last actions as described in Mr. Watson's 1971 testimony. "All of a sudden people started coming in from other rooms. I was pacing back and forth, jumping up and down, when Sadie yelled out, 'Watch out.' I turned around I fired the gun at the man coming after me." Jay Sebring, unarmed from across the room, charged a man armed with a gun and a bayonet. That was the last thing he did.
Yet another thing about these crimes that tortures our families is how the identities and legacies of the victims have been lost in the exploitation and sensationalism resulting from these crimes. These are not faceless props to be packaged and sold to suit the agendas of parasites lining their pockets. Upon his high school graduation, Steven Parent took on two jobs to pay for his college education. Abigail Folger strove to help her friends and communities in South Central LA. Leno LaBianca served in World War II, and together with Rosemary nurtured and supported their family through a successful chain of grocery stores in their community. Wojciech Frykowski came to this country hoping to fulfill his dreams. Sharon dreamed of having a family and raising her son. Jay Sebring was an innovator who revolutionized an industry. These were people who had their lives ahead of them, who wanted to make a difference for the good acting on their own free will.
I'd like to quote from a letter that my Uncle Jay wrote on March 3rd, 1959. "Hi Dad. Thanks to a few fine people and yourself, the lease has been signed today and the ball has started its roll. I am in business for myself and I'm a very happy man. Without your help it would not have happened. I am very grateful and I will not forget. Thank you once again for sending the money and spending the time. I feel we can develop this into something that will be a credit to the family and a tremendous business success. With all my love, Tom."
Tom was Jay's birth name. The business Jay envisioned transformed barbering into men's hair care and styling. A shop in Hollywood spread to Palm Springs, Las Vegas, San Francisco, with plans to expand in London and Paris. Jay was the first ever to develop his own personal hair care product line in the early 60's. Sebring-certified shops went nationwide and some still exist today. After Jay was killed, several partners enlisted to manage and operate his business. Knowing the value of the Sebring name, some of these partners sought to take over the company by creating rumors of a family disinheritance and causing financial stress on Jay's family by not paying rent for several months. My mother and father, both stylists, felt that they could protect Jay's legacy and vision by overseeing the business, but it was my grandmother's wishes after the murders that her family stay away from Los Angeles. My parents respected her wishes. My grandparents, having no knowledge of the hair business and with strained funds felt the best way to carry on their son's legacy was to sell the shops and product line. Due to greed and inner turmoil, the shops folded less than a year after the takeover, ending Jay's empire and the family plan he worked for nearly two decades to accomplish. This is a direct result of Jay's murder.
Before Jay was killed, my grandparents saved every photo or article about their son from newspapers and magazines. We have trunks filled with them. When the lurid rumors and smut bubbled up and a media feeding frenzy, my grandmother never again picked up a newspaper or a magazine until the day she died. Most unbearable was how my grandmother's eyes would go vacant from time to time, especially on Christmas Eve, and she would leave the room for an hour or two. My mother describes it as going into a black hole. I am haunted to this day by the pain and tears of my mother's and grandmother's eyes. I have only a few memories of him.
My grandparents were visiting from Detroit and Uncle Jay drove in from LA. We were playing in the front yard chasing each other. Before he drove off to LA, he took my grandparents, but he took a picture of us. I asked that the newsfeed not capture the image of the picture that I'm about to show to the Board if that's possible. Thank you. This is the picture he took of us that afternoon, less than a year before he was killed. If you look at the expressions on our faces, you'll see the pride and love we had as a family, but in particular are the feelings we shared towards the man taking the picture. As he drove off, I couldn't wait to see him again. That was the last time I saw him. I had no idea how profoundly his life and his murder would impact me. I would like you all to know the man that Jay Sebring was, but there is not enough time and this is not a deserving forum.
Because of Jay Sebring, I know that if you live life passionately with a regard for excellence you can live your dreams. Because of Charles Watson, I know that anyone, anywhere, anyone in this room, can be caught unawares in the middle of the night and massacred with our families by a clan armed with guns, hunting knives and carving tools. I've seen for decades what that does to those left behind.
Sorry. I'll get through this. Before I conclude, my family and I would like to thank Patrick Sequeira and the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office for their care and dedication in providing the victims a legal voice. Also, the Parole Board, both Commissioners here today, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Warden William Knipp and Victims Services for their care, and for providing the opportunity to speak on behalf of our loved ones who can't speak for themselves. Charles Watson may believe he has been rehabilitated and is a changed person, but I remind the Board that Steven Parent, Jay Sebring, Wojciech Frykowski, Abigail Folger, Sharon Tate, her child, Leno LaBianca, Rosemary LaBianca remain unchanged, unrehabilitated, unparoled. Considering the severe and heinous acts of Mr. Watson, I respectfully ask the Board to deny Mr. Watson parole for the most just period of time permitted by law. Thank you.
PRESIDING COMMISSIONER PRIZMICH: Thank you, sir. Someone else? Yes, ma'am. If you could state your name again please and relationship to the victim.
MARGARGET DIMARIA (Sister):
Margaret Dimaria. I am Thomas J. Sebring's sister. And I think maybe I should have gone before my son. I hope I can get through this. I want to thank everybody first, because I don't know what shape I'll be in, but I want to thank you, Patrick, for everything you've done, and I want to thank the Commissioners and everyone, the officers, everyone in the prisons or with law enforcement handling all this, and for your service. I would like to mention that Charles Watson's attorney referred to this whole situation as tragic and horrible. I would say horrific, cold-blooded murders, calculating. It certainly, certainly way surpasses the pale of stealing a typewriter many years prior. It's the worst of the crimes.
Anyway, my parents were so relieved when they heard that the people that did these murders were captured. They were relieved, they were grateful when they were brought to justice. They had the relief of the fact that nobody else would have to encounter any of them, that justice would be served.
As we all know, Charles Watson and the others were sentenced to death. A few years later, the death sentences were revoked, then California reinstated the death penalty. They were not put back on death row. I believe this gave them a second chance. They are alive. The victims have no second chance. At that time, my parents were assured that the people who killed their son would never get out of prison. I'm extremely grateful that my parents never had to endure one of these parole hearings. I thank God for that. When it seemed that the parole hearings were a real possibility, I promised my brother, my parents, my sister, who is also not here any longer, that I would always be sure to come here and represent my brother, Jay Sebring, and never let him be forgotten, that none of the victims would be forgotten.
Over the years, my husband has protected me at work, in public, when people unknowingly say hurtful things pertaining to the murders. It's been over 40 years and it still happens. We have tried to protect our children, but we have learned that it is forever ongoing. Our youngest daughter, who is with us today, experienced in junior high school some of her classmates wearing t-shirts with the pictures of these murderers, thinking it was cool. Even worse, thinking they were cool, someone to look up to. As a young adult, she went to a concert to see a lead singer wearing a Manson Family t-shirt. My daughter had to leave the concert. This is very current, it happens. Going to movies, a comedian makes a joke. When you go to dinner, somebody says something. It just is ongoing. It's important, very important that we don't send the wrong message to our youth. Our youngest daughter, it was many, many years since the murders when she experienced it. There are still people, there are still young people lost that will be influenced easily, and we have to protect them from this. We have to shield other people from any such heinous crime or behavior and protect our public from being influenced from people like this.
Punishment will never equal the crime, especially this crime, but punishment must suit the crime. Punishment must be firm. It must be just. In my opinion, if Charles Watson has true contrition for the crimes that he has committed, I don't see how he can walk into this room and ask for parole. I do see it's good, the things that he is trying to do to be better with the remaining years of his life in prison, because it is a just punishment, but we'll never know really of his true contrition. Only he knows in his mind. Because what we see, what he has done, what all of them have done, is completely different.
I'd like to reflect back in time now to the first time I met Sharon Tate, and it was in Las Vegas. My brother and she had come to Las Vegas. I was expecting our son Anthony. And when I first met her, I thought, she is so beautiful. She was an absolutely beautiful woman. But in talking with her and being with her, she was a sweet person, a sensitive person, a regular person, as you would say. Someone that was as beautiful as she was could be very full of themselves. She was not. She was just like anyone else. When my brother was leaving Las Vegas, he came by where I was working and he had a wrapped box. And I said, what is this? He said, this isn't from me. He said, when I took Sharon to the airport, because she had an appointment or an interview or something and she had to leave early, he said, she wanted me to take her to a store to bring you something because you're expecting. I opened it up and it was a very, very lightweight poncho. Being in Las Vegas, you're always too hot. It's 120 a lot of the year. She put such thought behind it. She wanted me to feel good. And that was how I knew her. At the times of the murders, her baby was murdered. I was expecting at the time. I never had that baby. After that, I had several miscarriages, and it was just the way it was.
Now today at this parole hearing our daughter Christy was planning on being here, and it was very important to her to be here and represent her uncle. She's expecting right now. It's a pregnancy that she has to be very cautious. My husband and I and other kids had talked to Christy and said we know how bad you want to be here, but it's very important, and it would be extremely difficult to be here today. And we asked her to stay in Vegas. My husband stayed with her. They're just kind of maintaining work. But these are things that happen in your life. It's a wonderful thing and it's a tough thing too because it's very sensitive and we just have to deal with it the way we do.
All of the memories of my brother, of his life, his many achievements, I see this good looking, well dressed, talented guy that lived life to the fullest. He wanted to bring out the best in people. He wanted to encourage people to go for what they wanted. And he would ask anybody, he asked my husband and I, you know, what did we want to do if we could do it, which at the time he was talking to us we had no money and we couldn't do it. That was important to him. It was important to himself with his life, but with other people that he encountered.
The last time I saw him, the nightmare in my head is looking at him in the casket, swollen, really not recognizable for who he was. My mother had requested if at all possible that the casket be open because of all the horrendous rumors about being bludgeoned and people were cut up, and horrible, horrible things that the press sent out. She wanted that to be set aside. Of course, we found out she could not do anything about many lies and rumors and everything else that followed. But to think that my parents were going to see my brother like this, I just wanted to reach out and change it and fix him. You can't do it. His hands were stiff and in a position to where I could see him fighting for his life the last few minutes, trying to fight for Sharon and her unborn baby and all the others. My last memories of him is that he barely resembled himself. Because of the horrendousness of these crimes, I ask that Charles Watson gets a just, fair, as long as possible until the next time we have to come back. Thank you.