Veteran court reporter Linda Deutsch recalls covering Charles Manson trial

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Linda Deutsch was only 24 years old when she got the assignment of a lifetime - covering the murder trial of Charles Manson.

"It was truly like going to the circus every day," said Deutsch, a veteran court reporter for The Associated Press. "At an age when a lot of kids are just getting their start, I was covering the biggest trial in the country for the largest news agency in the country by myself."

Manson's murder trial started on June 15, 1970. Deutsch would go on to cover dozens of other high-profile cases but she said she'll never forget the year she spent reporting on Manson and his followers.

"From day one everybody was acting crazy," she said.

Nothing about the case was conventional, from a prosecutor who slept in his office to a juror who wore a different color wig every day of the trial to Manson's defense attorney Irvin Kanarek.

"You could see that this was not your typical member of the bar," Deutsch said. "He was very disheveled. He carried a huge briefcase with papers coming out of it and he lived in his car."

Deutsch retired last year, after a storied 48-year career with the AP. She's currently writing a book about the many trials she's covered and at least one chapter is devoted to Manson.

"The killings would have been a huge story onto themselves, but once you factored in these kids who were living under the control of basically a madman, and killed for him, the story took on a whole new dimension," she said.

Manson and three of his followers were convicted of multiple counts of murder on Jan. 25 1971. A fourth Manson family member was convicted at a later date.

Looking back, Deutsch said she knows it was a bizarre start to an auspicious career but a story where certain elements will remain unanswered.

"It was very, very sad, very tragic and very inexplicable what he was trying to accomplish and why these people followed him so absolutely," she said. "That will always remain a mystery."

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