LOS ANGELES - A probate court judge Tuesday took under submission a Florida man's assertion that he is the grandson of mass murderer Charles Manson, a claim being challenged by a former Manson pen pal as well as Manson's professed sister, who are also vying to administer the late cult leader's estate.
During Tuesday's virtual hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Ruben Garcia said he will decide by May 20 whether 45-year-old Jason Freeman of Bradenton, Florida, is indeed the son of Manson's late son, Charles Manson Jr., who was also named Charles Jay White and who committed suicide in June 1993.
Alan Davis, an attorney for Dale Kiken — a lawyer and current temporary special administrator of the Manson estate who is advocating for Freeman's kinship claim — said that two court events conclusively establish Freeman's claim to be Manson's grandson.
In February 1986, an Ohio judge found that Freeman was the son of Charles Manson Jr., who was ordered to pay child support payments to Freeman's mother, said Davis, who added that proof of Manson Jr.'s payments to the woman have been documented.
In addition, in March 2018, a Kern County commissioner ruled that Freeman was entitled to Manson's remains and that order also established that Freeman was Manson's grandson, according to Davis.
Freeman also addressed the court during the hearing, saying he was a freshman in high school when his father died and the only reason he could continue playing high school sports was because of the child support payments his mother received of more than $600 a month.
Davis said the Ohio order remained unchallenged for decades until the current challenges by former Manson pen pal Michael Channels and by Nancy Claassen of Spokane, Washington, who alleges in her court papers that she and Manson had the same mother and that she therefore is his "sole heir-at-law."
"All of a sudden we're dealing with an estate and we have all these people coming out of the woodwork," Davis said.
But attorney Timothy Lyons, on behalf of Channels, said Judge Clifford Klein, who previously presided over the case and has since retired, gave no weight to the Ohio court decision. Lawyer Dilair Nafoosi, on behalf of Claassen, said the Ohio ruling dealt with child support and not whether Freeman was a Manson heir.
Klein signed an order in 2019 directing Freeman to take a DNA test, but his ruling was reversed by a three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal in 2021. Freeman once told Klein that he would not voluntarily agree to DNA testing, but would obey a court order to do so.
Channels had asked for the DNA test of Freeman. In his court papers, Channels said Manson's 2002 will, filed in Kern County in November 2017, named him as the executor of Manson's estate.
Freeman, acting as his own attorney, has filed court papers stating that probate of the will should be denied because it was created "as a direct result of undue influence exercised by (Channels) over (Manson) and is not, and never was, the will of (Manson)."
Manson suffered from heart disease and other ailments before he died in 2017.
"Because of his weakened condition, (Channels) ... gained his confidence and easily influenced (Manson) to leave all of his estate to (Channels)," Freeman's court papers state.
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 of 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.