40th anniversary of Manson murders

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It was helter skelter. Forty years ago today, the bloody Manson murders happened.

Five people were slaughtered in a home in Benedict Canyon. They included 26-year-old Sharon Tate. She was eight months pregnant and married to director Roman Polanski. Coffee heiress Abigail Folger was also among the dead.

The murderers spelled out "helter skelter" in a bloody message on the walls. Manson and his followers went on trial nine months later.

Veteran Associate Press court reporter Linda Deutsch covered that trial and says it was a circus beyond anything seen since.

Linda Deutsch: "So many things happened in that trial. There was a day when Manson leaped across the council table and said to the judge 'somebody should cut your head off old man.' Deputies grabbed him. But he had launched himself by the time they got him.

"And there were the girls would get into court and jump up and sing and dance and have to be ejected. People were having LSD flashbacks in the spectator section. People were stopped at security and found with heroin in their pockets. It was a very strange time."

Manson and his followers were to get the death penalty, but in 1972 the state supreme court made capitol punishment illegal, so their sentences were commuted to life in prison.