The legal battle over who will receive the remains of one of the 20th century's most notorious criminals continued Wednesday in Bakersfield as the purported grandson of Charles Manson — and an attorney representing an alleged son — attended a hearing in Probate Court and afterward spoke of desires to respectfully lay the convicted murderer to rest.
The grandson, Jason Freeman, said he just wants to do his duty as a grandchild. Although he never met Manson in person, Freeman said he corresponded with him over the past eight years and got to know him as a "kind, giving person."
"I know his spirit's in heaven," Freeman said.
Manson was convicted of orchestrating the vicious murders of seven people in August 1969. He died Nov. 19 in a Bakersfield hospital at the age of 83.
Freeman said disposition of the remains is a family situation, so "the family's stepping up."
Despite his wishes, Manson's body will stay with the Kern County coroner's office for at least the near future after Court Commissioner Alisa R. Knight postponed Wednesday's hearing to March 7 to determine who will receive the remains.
Two people — the alleged son and a pen pal — have filed wills allegedly written by Manson that they say entitle them to the body.
Deputy County Counsel Bryan Walters, representing the coroner's office, said it's the county's hope the parties reach a settlement.
"I think all the relatives have the same desire," he said.
Daniel Mortensen, the attorney representing Michael Brunner, the alleged son, said his client wants the body cremated so he can scatter them at an undisclosed location in California. He said Brunner, as the closest living relative, should receive the remains.
There was a brief discussion during Wednesday's hearing as to whether Brunner is the biological or adopted son of Manson, and whether that would impact his claim. Mortensen asserted his client is a biological son of Manson.
The pen pal, Michael Channels, filed a 2002 will in Kern County that names him as executor and heir and disinherits Manson's natural born children, according to the Associated Press.
Last week, the AP reported a Los Angeles judge decided litigation over Manson's estate should stay in Los Angeles because that's where Manson was living when he was arrested and convicted in the murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and others.
The judge said the case over Manson's remains, however, belongs in either Kings County, where he was imprisoned, or Kern County, where he died.
Manson had been housed in the Protective Housing Unit at California State Prison-Corcoran since 1989, where inmates who would be at risk among the general population are kept.
He was hospitalized in Bakersfield at least twice last year, once in January and then again shortly before his death in November.