Police want to review audio recordings of conversations between a Manson family member and his attorney as detectives search for information about unsolved killings.
Los Angeles detectives seeking the material are merely practicing due diligence after receiving a tip that the recordings and other items in the estate of now-deceased lawyer Bill Boyd, who once represented Charles "Tex" Watson, were becoming available, LAPD spokesman Andrew Smith said.
"This whole thing has gotten totally blown out of proportion," Smith said, commenting on a report that first appeared on KNBC-TV.
Homicide detective Dan Jenks and Lt. Yana Horvatich, who made the request, have no specific information on what might be in the recordings, but they want to examine them, Smith said.
In their letter, they said they believed Watson discussed unsolved murders with his lawyer.
The audio recordings were previously made available by Watson to the co-author of his book, "Will You Die for Me? The Man Who Killed for Charles Manson Tells His Own Story." The book contains no information on unsolved murders.
The book features gruesome, detailed account of Watson's role in the killings of actress Sharon Tate and six other people. It also discusses Manson's murderous plans for those killings and includes sections on the formation of the Manson Family cult, Watson's family history in Texas, and his complete devotion to Manson.
He said he agreed to murder for Manson without question and felt no remorse afterward. He also noted that he was under the influence of LSD during most of the time he was with Manson.
Boyd, a lawyer hired to represent Watson by his parents, conducted a long fight to prevent his extradition to California from Texas, where Watson went after the murders.
By the time Watson arrived, he was not speaking and was ruled to be insane. He was committed to a mental institution for a year before he was found fit to stand trial separately from Manson and three women followers.
Watson, now 65, was convicted of the seven murders. All four defendants were sentenced to death but saw their sentences commuted to life when the death penalty was briefly outlawed in 1972.
Testimony at the Manson trial cast Watson as Manson's chief lieutenant, the cruel killer who confronted the pregnant Tate and her friends and announced, "'I'm the devil and I'm here to do the devil's work."
Police requested about eight hours of recordings of Boyd and' Watson that were made when Watson returned to Texas after the killings, according to KNBC-TV. The request was made in a letter dated March 19 and was included in a U.S. bankruptcy filing involving Boyd's law firm in Texas, the station said.
"The LAPD has information that Mr. Watson discussed additional unsolved murders committed by followers of Charles Manson," said the letter written to a bankruptcy court trustee in Tyler, Texas. "It is requested that the original recordings be given to the LAPD in order to determine if information regarding unsolved murders was included in the recordings."
A hearing on the request is scheduled Tuesday in Texas. Smith said Los Angeles detectives will not be attending the hearing.
"They've made the request," he said. "If it is granted, they will examine the materials."
KNBC says the audio remained private until Watson authorized its sale to his co-author to help cover unpaid legal fees.
In November, Watson was denied parole from for the 16th time and ordered to continue serving his life sentence. He married and divorced in prison and has four children from conjugal visits.