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Charles Older, 88; Presided Over Manson Trial

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Associated Press
Saturday, June 24, 2006

Charles H. Older, 88, the Los Angeles Superior Court judge who presided over the trial of Charles Manson and his followers, died June 17 at his West Los Angeles home of complications from a fall.

Mr. Older served as a pilot with the Flying Tigers during World War II, and his family said he shot down more than 18 Japanese planes, the third highest tally of any Flying Tiger.

He had been on the bench only a few years when he was handed the Manson murder case and its circus atmosphere. Manson and three of his LSD-dropping followers, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, were tried for the 1969 cult killings of actress Sharon Tate, Leno and Rosemary La Bianca and four others.

The defendants showed up in court with shaved heads and X's on their foreheads and sometimes chanted nonsensically. Manson one day tried to attack Mr. Older.

After the trial, Mr. Older sent a Los Angeles Times reporter to jail for refusing to reveal the source for a story he wrote on the case. That move ultimately resulted in the strengthening of the state's shield law for reporters.

Charles Herman Older was born in Hanford, Calif., and graduated in 1939 from the University of California at Los Angeles. He was a graduate of the University of Southern California law school.

Survivors include his wife, Catherine Day Older; and three daughters.


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