Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Obituary: Vincent Bugliosi

Famed prosecutor and later writer Vincent Bugliosi, 80, died Saturday night after battling cancer for some time. In his career as a prosecutor, he is best remembered for his successful conviction of killer Charles Manson and various members of the "Manson family." He parlayed that success into a best-selling book, Helter Skelter, which in turn launched a highly successful career as a writer, mostly of nonfiction works, and mostly of books relating to the legal field or crime.

I always enjoyed his books and found him to be one of the smartest, most astute observers around. In addition to Helter Skelter, Bugliosi wrote books critical of the O.J. Simpson case, Bush v. Gore, the Paula Jones USSC decision, and, the book he was most proud of, the massive Reclaiming History. The last title was more a reference work than simply a work of nonfiction, but Bugliosi spent years writing in long hand debunking every single JFK assassination conspiracy claim. He painstakingly researched what appears to be every single thing known about the murder. A section of the book was issued as a separate book and published in time of the 50-year anniversary of the assassination in 2013. It documented all of the events leading up to the murder, and the following three or four days afterwards.

Snip from the NYT obit:

Mr. Bugliosi was a 35-year-old deputy district attorney in Los Angeles in 1970, when he was chosen to lead the prosecution. In six years as a prosecutor, he had won convictions in 21 murder cases, without a loss.

One of his challenges was to convince the jury that Mr. Manson was just as guilty as the knife-wielders and shooters — even though he did not physically participate — since he had inspired them and sent them on their missions. The other defendants were Ms. Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, all in their early 20s.

“I hadn’t realized how small he was,” Mr. Bugliosi wrote of seeing the 5-foot-2 Mr. Manson for the first time. “I could not believe that this little guy had done all the things it was said he had. He was not only capable of committing murder himself, he also possessed the incredible power to command others to kill for him.”

As Mr. Bugliosi recalled later, the trial transformed life not only for him but for his wife, Gail, and their young children, Vincent Jr. and Wendy, as Mr. Bugliosi worked 100 hours a week and was accompanied by a bodyguard everywhere he went.

I for one will miss his commentaries. He had what I call a steel trap mind.

The obit mentioned the death last year of Helter Skelter co-author Curt Gentry. Here is that article.

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