Vincent Bugliosi, perhaps the most impressive prosecutor in U. S. history, died of cancer in a Los Angeles Hospital on June 6, 2015. Bugliosi was noted for successfully prosecuting 105 of 106 felony trials, including 21 murder trials.
I never met Bugliosi but remember him well, particularly due to the “Manson Family” murders of 1969 and Bugliosi’s successful prosecution of Charles Manson and several of Manson’s followers.
Charles Manson gloried in being a murderous “guru” who was/is nuttier than squirrel cheeks. His followers, basically young spiritually lost people, brutally murdered at his behest to bring on “Helter Skelter.” In Manson’s screwy mind, the deliberately gory murders at the Roman Polanski/Sharon Tate residence and the LaBianca residence in the Los Angeles area would incite “Helter Skelter” – a bloody revolution by black people who would magically turn to white Charles Manson to lead them.
Bugliosi was famously unimpressed with Manson’s histrionics and successfully prosecuted Manson and his followers, gaining death sentences for all of them. The death sentences were eventually commuted to life sentences with the abolishment of California’s death penalty in 1972. Reinstatement of California’s death penalty did not affect their sentences.
Bugliosi retired from the prosecutor’s office and wrote a “true crime” best seller called “Helter Skelter,” an absorbing analysis of the entire Manson situation. Bugliosi later wrote other “true crime” best sellers, including: “And the Sea Will Tell,” about the murders of a married couple in the Pacific; “Outrage,” ab out the O.J. Simpson evidence and trial; “Reclaiming History” about John F. Kennedy’s assassination; and “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder,” about the Iraqi War. Whether or not the reader agrees with his conclusions, Bugliosi’s exhaustive analyses are fascinating.
Bugliosi also continued working as a criminal defense attorney, gaining the acquittal of one of two suspects in the “And the Sea Will Tell” murders. Bugliosi’s work as a defense attorney was necessarily limited by his refusal to represent anyone he believed to be guilty as charged.
Bugliosi was an admirable lawyer with a razor-sharp mind. He will be missed.
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