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Exhibition Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration

Bill Robles. Manson Leaping at Judge Charles H. Older! October 5, 1970. India ink and watercolor with scratching out on vellum paper mounted on board. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (025.00.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsca-51006 © Bill Robles
Gift of Tom Girardi

Helter Skelter in the Courtroom

In the more than nine months that Charles Manson was on trial for the murders of Sharon Tate and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, he grew increasingly agitated. On October 5, 1970, he quickly leaped from the defense table, pencil in hand, preparing to stab Justice Charles H. Older. Bill Robles captured Manson's frenzied energy, which seemingly required all the might of the burly bailiff to restrain him. The pencil, still in motion, flies through the air toward the judge. By all accounts, Older did not even flinch. Walter Cronkite led off CBS Evening News that night with Robles's drawing.