As the city recoiled at the brutality of the two murders, they were not initially connected. The Los Angeles Police Department had assigned two different teams, one for each case. It wasn't until Family member acquaintances began snitching to law enforcement that the two murders were linked and tied to Manson and his followers.
A simultaneous trial for Manson, Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten began June 5, 1970. It would become the longest trial in California history until O.J. Simpson's trial nearly 25 years later and included a bizarre string of outbursts and spectacles that dominated headlines for months.
The jurors were sequestered for an astounding nine months. Larry Sheely remembered riding the bus from the hotel to the courthouse with the windows blocked so he and other jurors wouldn't be able to read the headlines on the papers at the newsstands.
At 23, Sheely was the youngest member of the Manson jury. He was married with two children and working as a telephone repairman. Now a 63-year-old grandfather living in the Sacramento area, Sheely told ABCNews.com he believes the public fascination stems from the horror of Manson's crimes.
After Manson was denied permission to act as his own lawyer, he showed up in court with an "X" carved into his forehead, a marking he would later turn into a swastika. In a show of solidarity, the Manson women on trial and his followers who kept vigil outside the courtroom shaved their heads and carved "X's" in their foreheads as well.
Kasabian, who had been acting as a lookout during the Tate murders, told prosecutors that she went up to the house during the massacre trying to stop it. It was this action and her testimony against the others that won her immunity from prosecution.
The group became infamous for its outbursts, and at one point, Manson attacked Judge Charles Older, who began coming to court armed with a pistol. Prosecution witnesses were threatened by members on the outside.
Sheely remembered having staring contests with Manson. Sheely said Manson would alternately stare at each juror. Bugliosi said Manson pulled the same tactic on him in the judge's chambers, one going on for as long as 20 minutes.
One of Sheely's grimmest memories of the trial was seeing the crime scene photos, color images of the bloody wounds.
"It was pretty gross," he said. "It was really hard to believe somebody would go into somebody's house and tie them up and stab them so many times."
"He was just wacko," Sheely said. "How does a person get like that?"
The defense rested without calling a single witness.
Manson and his followers were found guilty in January 1971 and, three months later, sentenced to death, a punishment recommended by the jury. Watson later stood trial separately and was also sentenced to death.
"It just seemed appropriate," Sheely said of the jury's decision.
During the penalty phase, which lasted three months, the women tried to take credit for the murders in an effort to save their leader.
"It was an obvious effort to exonerate Manson," Bugliosi said. "They were literally willing to go the gas chamber to save his life."