LAPD: Manson tapes needed for unsolved cases

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DALLAS (AP) - A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman says investigators believe that decades-old taped conversations between a Manson family disciple and his attorney could help clear up more than a dozen unsolved homicides.

Andrew Smith told The Associated Press on Thursday that the LAPD sought to use a search warrant to obtain the tapes of conversations between Charles “Tex” Watson and his late attorney, Bill Boyd, because it urgently wants to solve any unsolved cases.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell in Texas this month blocked the LAPD from executing the search warrant for the office of a bankruptcy trustee who currently has the tapes.

He criticized the LAPD for trying to circumvent an order he issued keeping the tapes off limits while he considers Watson’s appeal of a bankruptcy court case.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

A federal judge in Texas has blocked an attempt by the Los Angeles Police Department to use a search warrant to obtain decades-old tapes of conversations between a Manson family disciple and his now-deceased trial attorney.

U.S. District Judge Richard A. Schell’s ruling stopped authorities from executing a search warrant earlier this month for the office of the bankruptcy trustee who has eight cassette tapes containing hours of conversations between Charles “Tex” Watson and attorney Bill Boyd.

Schell took the LAPD to task for what the judge called an apparent attempt to circumvent a court order making the tapes off limits until Watson’s appeal of a previous ruling in bankruptcy court can be heard.

“This court understands and respects the desire of the LAPD to seek access to the 42-year-old tapes,” Schell wrote in an Oct. 5 ruling. “However, the LAPD has provided no explanation as to why this court should shortcut the usual procedure for determining a bankruptcy appeal given that the investigation the LAPD wishes to reopen involves murders that occurred 42 years ago.”

The LAPD is seeking the tapes on the belief that Watson, serving a life sentence in California for his role in the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others, may have discussed other unsolved murders with Boyd.

Boyd, who died in 2009, represented Watson when the Manson follower fled to his home state after the murders. The tapes are now in the possession of Linda Payne, the trustee in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding involving the law firm where Boyd worked.

In May, the bankruptcy court judge ruled that the LAPD should get the tapes because Watson waived his right to attorney-client privilege when he made them available to the co-author of his 1978 book “Will You Die for Me? The Man Who Killed for Charles Manson Tells His Own Story.” The ruling by Judge Brenda Rhoades in effect supported Payne, who testified that she believed there was no reason not to give police the tapes.

Watson is appealing the decision, and Schell granted a stay until he can hear arguments from both sides. Attorneys for Watson and Payne are still preparing their briefs.

Andrew Smith, an LAPD spokesman, said Thursday he couldn’t immediately comment on the matter.

Payne sought an emergency ruling from Schell on the search warrant after law enforcement officials from Los Angeles and Fort Worth showed up at her Dallas office on Oct. 3 seeking to search the premises, court records show.

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