Judge orders Manson Family tapes handed over to LA police

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - A federal judge has ordered taped conversations between Manson Family killer Charles "Tex" Watson and his now-deceased defense lawyer turned over to Los Angeles (LA) police, who are investigating the cult's possible involvement in old, unsolved murders.

The written order by United States (US) District Judge Richard Schell in Texas, which was made public on Tuesday, upholds a ruling last year by a federal bankruptcy judge that was appealed by Watson, 67, who is serving a life prison term in California.

"We're very pleased the judge ruled in our favour, we're looking forward to getting those tapes and thoroughly analysing the contents," Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Andrew Smith said.

"This Manson Family crime spree is one of most notorious and heinous in Southern California history and we, the LAPD, believe we owe it to the victims and their families to ensure that every facet of this case is thoroughly and completely investigated, and we plan to do exactly that," Mr Smith said.

He said that detectives would travel to Texas to pick up the recordings following a 30-day period in which Watson could appeal the ruling to a higher court.

A Fort Worth, Texas-based attorney representing Watson in the case could not be immediately reached for comment.

Ex-convict Charles Manson attracted a group of runaways and outcasts, including Watson, amid the hippie culture of the 1960s. In the summer of 1969, he directed his mostly young, female followers to murder seven people in what prosecutors said was part of a plan to incite a race war.

The Watson tapes contain some eight hours of discussions between the Manson follower and attorney Bill Boyd that were recorded in 1969 after his arrest for the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders in Los Angeles.

The recordings surfaced during federal bankruptcy proceedings in Texas involving Boyd's now-defunct law firm, which represented Watson.

Los Angeles police Detectives could not obtain the recordings until Watson waived his attorney-client privilege so they could be sold to satisfy unpaid legal fees. Boyd died in 2009.

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