Lawyers for a woman who says she is the sister of the late Charles Manson told a Los Angeles judge Tuesday that their client will join two others in bidding to administer the estate of the infamous cult leader, a field which already includes a man who claims to be Manson’s grandson.
Attorneys Christopher B. Johnson and Colin T. Greene informed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Barry that their client, Nancy Claassen of Spokane, Washington, also will challenge the purported Manson will put forth by the other estate administrator contestant, longtime Manson pen pal Michael Channels. The lawyers said Claassen’s court papers will be filed soon.
Channels’ attorney, David Baldwin, said the will is currently in the possession of the Kern County Superior Court. Channels maintains the will was written in 2002, was filed in Kern County in November 2017 and names him as the executor of Manson’s estate. However, Jason Freeman, a 45-year-old Florida man who says he is Manson’s grandson, has filed a competing petition asking to be appointed the estate’s permanent administrator.
The judge told Baldwin that he will sign an order if the attorney prepares one for a transfer of the will to Los Angeles County Superior Court. Although an Ohio judge ruled in 1986 that Freeman was the son of Manson’s son, Charles Manson Jr., Barry said Judge Clifford Klein, who previously oversaw the case, ruled earlier that the Ohio ruling was not final and that the issue was not addressed by the appellate court.
Charles Manson Jr. committed suicide in June 1993. His father died at age 83 on Nov. 19, 2017, at Bakersfield Mercy Hospital of heart failure triggered by colon cancer that had spread to other parts of his body.
Barry did not set a date for trial of the issues because a judge has not yet been appointed to replace Klein, who retired in March. Barry said he is himself retired and was filling in this week.
Asked outside the courtroom after the hearing why Claassen waited so long to enter the case, Johnson said he and Greene were just hired and were trying to get the court up-to-date on the wishes of their client, who Johnson said has an interest in the case as Manson’s nearest living relative.
Both Johnson and Greene said they hoped everyone claiming a relationship to Manson will be willing to submit to DNA testing. Although Klein had ordered Freeman to undergo DNA testing to prove his claim to be Manson’s grandson, Freeman appealed and a panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal earlier this month overturned the order.
Meanwhile, attorney Dale Kiken will remain in his previously appointed role as temporary special administrator over Manson’s estate. Kiken originally was appointed to the role in August 2018, giving him authority to protect Freeman’s interests.
Freeman won a significant court victory when a Kern County commissioner ruled in March 2018 that he was entitled to Manson’s remains, which were later cremated. Freeman and Kiken maintain that the 2002 Manson will is a forgery.
Johnson said Claassen also is challenging the will’s authenticity. He said he and Green have seen the document and that it has blank spaces throughout.
Kiken has possession for now of all of the personal effects Manson gathered in prison, according to Kiken’s attorney, Alan Davis.
Manson and members of his outcast “family” of followers were convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate — who was eight months pregnant — and six other people during a bloody rampage in the Los Angeles area in August 1969.
Prosecutors said Manson and his followers were trying to incite a race war he dubbed “Helter Skelter,” taken from the Beatles song of the same name.
The Manson clan also stabbed to death grocery magnate Leno La Bianca and his wife Rosemary La Bianca the night after the Tate murders.
Manson was convicted of seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of Tate, the La Biancas, and four other people at the Tate residence — coffee heiress Abigail Ann Folger, photographer Wojciech Frykowski, hairdresser Jay Sebring and Steven Earl Parent, who was shot in his car on his way to visit an acquaintance who lived in a separate rented guest house on the Tate property.
Manson and followers Charles “Tex” Watson, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and the late Susan Atkins all were convicted and sentenced to state prisons in 1971. Manson also was convicted in December of that year for first-degree murder for the July 25, 1969, death of Gary Hinman and the August 1969 death of Donald Shea.
He and the others originally were sentenced to death, but a 1972 state Supreme Court decision caused all capital sentences in California to be commuted to life in prison. There was no life-without-parole sentence at the time.
Manson was denied parole a dozen times.