Charles Manson prosecutor dies at 80, 'proud of his Iron Range roots'


Hibbing, Minn. native Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor in the Charles Manson trial that turned him into an acclaimed author, died at 80 years old after a struggle with cancer.

His son, Vincent Bugliosi Jr., told the Associated Press he died Saturday night at a Los Angeles hospital.

Bugliosi rose to fame after the trial and his 1974 bestselling novel about the Manson Family, "Helter Skelter," which recounted the 1969 killing of actress Sharon Tate and 6 others by 3 female followers of cult leader, Charles Manson. He theorized that the Beatles song with his book's namesake inspired the violence.

During Bugliosi's career, he successfully prosecuted 105 out of 106 felony jury trials, 21 murder convictions included. The 9 1/2 –month trial of Manson and his followers, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten cost Los Angeles County $1 million.

Proud of his Iron Range roots

"I think the characteristic of being humble has a lot to do with his Iron Range roots," fellow attorney and friend Mike Padden said.

Padden says the man who prosecuted Manson while only 35 years old always stayed modest and always approached juries with Upper Midwestern sensibilities.

"He was very cut to the chase. He did not like lawyers using the tactic of trying to ingratiate themselves with juries. He wanted his skills in mastering the evidence to take the day," Padden said.

He would go on to write "Reclaiming History," one of the definitive books on the Kennedy assassination, as well on books about the OJ Simpson trial, President Bush, Clinton, even God.

"He always called himself a trial attorney who happened to be a writer," Padden said.

In 2003, Padden invited Bugliosi to speak at Hamline Law School.

"When you compare the people and the culture of Minnesota with California, there's no comparison. Minnesota wins hands down. On issue of weather, well, there's a problem," he said during the lecture.

Living in Southern California for decades, still complaining about the weather, a Minnesota man, indeed.

"This is the point I really want to make: He's a Minnesotan. We should embrace him. I embrace him, the fact this great lawyer is from the state of Minnesota. And very proud of his Iron Range roots," Padden said.

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