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Exhibition Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration

Bill Robles. [Charles Manson on the witness stand], November 1970. India ink and watercolor with scratching out on vellum paper mounted on board. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (024.00.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsca-51005 © Bill Robles
Gift of Tom Girardi

Charles Manson on the Stand

In the summer of 1969, Charles Manson brainwashed his followers, whom he called "the family," into committing gruesome murders, including Roman Polanski's pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate, as well as several others in the Los Angeles area. Courtroom illustrator Bill Robles captured Manson's vacant stare in November 1970, several months after the defendant had carved an "x" into his forehead: People v. Charles Manson, 61 Cal. App. 3d 102 (1976). Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi later wrote Helter Skelter, a true crime account of Manson and "the family."