LOS ANGELES — The battle brewing over the estate of Charles Manson entered court Monday, though it remains unclear where it will ultimately be fought or whether others will join a pen pal and purported grandson laying claim to the cult leader’s possessions and body.
The issue of venue is clouded because Manson, 83, died at a hospital in Kern County in November but was incarcerated in Corcoran State Prison in neighboring Kings County. His body is still being held at the coroner’s office in Bakersfield.
Attorney Alan Davis, representing the proposed administrator of the estate for purported grandson Jason Freeman, said Los Angeles County is the proper venue because Manson lived there before he was imprisoned for orchestrating the 1969 killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight other people.
Judge David Cowan said it was premature to make the determination and he scheduled a hearing Jan. 26 to determine where the two separate matters — who controls his estate and who gets his remains — should be decided.
Michael Channels, who said he became friends with Manson decades ago after repeatedly writing him in prison, challenged the Freeman claim. He holds a will that he said Manson signed and sent him 16 years ago.
The two-page document said Manson disinherited two known sons and any unknown children and leaves Channels the entire estate, which includes potentially lucrative rights to his image and music he wrote and recorded.
Guns N’ Roses 1993 recorded a Manson song, “Look at Your Game, Girl,” though royalties went to victims under a court order. Manson was also an acquaintance of Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson in 1968, and the band recorded a variation of a Manson song under the title “Never Learn Not To Love.”
Channels, a contractor who said he has troves of Manson memorabilia including clothing and letters, and has sold autographed cassettes and CDs of the convict’s music, disputed there’s much value to the estate.
“I feel sorry for the other side if they do win because there’s a lot bad juju that comes along with Charles Manson,” Channels said. “It’s not all roses.”
Others have suggested Channels intends to profit off Manson’s will if he prevails.
Channels, who said he couldn’t find a lawyer willing to take the case and represents himself, said his mission is only to make sure his friend can rest in peace. He said Manson feared his body could be mutilated and tattoos put on display and ashes worn in pendants.
Court documents filed by Davis claim Freeman is the son of the late Charles Manson Jr. and the grandson of Charles Manson and his first wife, Rosalie Willis.
A man who believes Manson fathered him during a Wisconsin orgy in the late 1960s also plans to make a claim to the estate.
Matt Lentz, a Los Angeles-area musician who goes by the name Matthew Roberts, has a will Manson purportedly signed in January 2017 naming him as beneficiary, said his agent, Mike Smith. He said Manson gave the will to friend and memorabilia collector Ben Gurecki, who is named as executor.
Lentz was expected in court, but didn’t show up Monday. Smith said Lentz was also having trouble finding a lawyer to take the case.