Irving Kanarek

Irving Kanarek

Seattle, King County, Washington, USA
Death 2 Sep 2020 (aged 100)
Garden Grove, Orange County, California, USA
Burial Burial Details Unknown
Memorial ID 215192587 · View Source
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Folk Figure, Criminal Defense Attorney. He was a Los Angeles lawyer who defended Charles Manson in the cult killings of actress Sharon Tate and six other people, and L.A.P.D Officer Jimmy Smith, whose murder was retold in Joseph Wambaugh’s 1973 best seller 'The Onion Field.' Those killings were among the most notorious crimes of the 1960s, and the national spotlight that focused on their trials made Kanarek’s disruptive circus of courtroom tactics almost as fascinating as his clients. He earned a degree in 1956 at Loyola Law School and began his practice in 1957. His first major case arose in Los Angeles on a March night in 1963 with a routine traffic stop for a broken taillight on a car carrying Smith and Gregory Powell. As two officers, Ian Campbell and Karl Hettinger, approached their vehicle, Smith and Powell drew guns, disarmed the officers and drove them 90 miles north to a remote onion farm near Bakersfield, Calif. Powell shot Campbell four times, however Hettinger fled into the darkness and escaped. Powell and Smith were later caught, tried for murder, convicted and sentenced to death, however, their death sentences were commuted to life in prison in 1972 by a California Supreme Court ruling. Kanarek’s next — and last — famous client was Manson. On Aug. 9, 1969, a cleaning lady entering a home in Beverly Hills, Calif., found the mutilated bodies of Tate, 26, the pregnant wife of the director Roman Polanski, as well as three friends and a chance visitor. All had been stabbed and shot many times. A day later, the bodies of a grocery magnate, Leno LaBianca, and his wife, Rosemary, were found in their Los Angeles home. They had been killed in ferocious attacks that left little doubt they had been slain by the same people who killed Tate and the others. Within months, Manson and four followers were arrested and implicated by Linda Kasabian, an accomplice who admitted her role in the crimes. She was granted immunity and became the state’s star witness in a trial that began in July 1970 and lasted six months. Kanarek’s courtroom tactics of objections, interruptions, shouting matches with the judge and witnesses, shoving incidents with two prosecutors and a scuffle with his client, who repeatedly tried to fire him, made him an outcast in some legal circles, but in others an exemplar of legal tenacity. He was jailed twice for contempt of court and vilified by much of the press and public. In 1971, Manson and his co-defendants, Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, and Charles "Tex" Watson, were convicted of murder and conspiracy and sentenced to die in the gas chamber. Mr. Kanarek scoffed at the rulings and the trial. A year later, when California’s death penalty was temporarily invalidated, the sentences were commuted to life in prison. Mr. Manson died in prison in 2017 at 83. In 1989, Kanarek was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct and hospitalized for a psychiatric evaluation. He later lived in motel rooms. Kanarek, who in recent years had resided at an assisted-living facility in Garden Grove, died at 100 of natural causes.

Bio by: Louis du Mort

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Louis du Mort
  • Added: 3 Sep 2020
  • Find a Grave Memorial 215192587
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Irving Kanarek (12 May 1920–2 Sep 2020), Find a Grave Memorial no. 215192587, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Burial Details Unknown.