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Bugliosi at the North Hollywood Branch Library in 2009
|Born||(1934-08-18)August 18, 1934
Hibbing, Minnesota, US
|Died||June 6, 2015(2015-06-06) (aged 80)
Los Angeles, California, US
|Education||University of Miami (1956)
UCLA School of Law (1964)
|Genre||True Crime, History, Politics|
|Notable works||Helter Skelter (1974)
And the Sea Will Tell (1991)
Reclaiming History (2007)
The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (2008)
|Notable awards||Edgar Allan Poe Award
(1975, 1979, 2008)
Vincent T. Bugliosi Jr. (//; August 18, 1934 – June 6, 2015) was an American attorney and New York Times bestselling author. During his eight years in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, he successfully prosecuted 105 out of 106 felony jury trials, which included 21 murder convictions, and gained guilty verdicts in each case. He was best known for prosecuting Charles Manson and other defendants accused of the Tate–LaBianca murders of August 9–10, 1969. Although Manson did not physically participate in the murders, Bugliosi used circumstantial evidence to show that he had orchestrated the killings.
In 1972 Bugliosi left the District Attorney's (DA) office and started a private practice, which included defense cases for criminal trials. He twice ran for the DA's office, but was not elected. He also began his writing career, exploring notable criminal cases.
Bugliosi, with Curt Gentry, wrote the book Helter Skelter (1974), about the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of Charles Manson and the Manson Family. It won an Edgar Award and has ranked as the bestselling crime book in US history. He has written several other books, mostly dealing with well-known crimes. His works include And the Sea Will Tell (1991), which he wrote with Bruce Henderson about the murder case against Stephanie Stearns. It was a #1 New York Times bestselling book. He later wrote Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (2007), in which he debunked numerous conspiracy theories and explored the events surrounding the assassination. He also wrote The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (2008), a criticism of former president George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq.
Early life and education
Bugliosi was born on August 18, 1934, in Hibbing, Minnesota to parents of Italian descent. When he was in high school, his family moved to Los Angeles, California. Bugliosi graduated from Hollywood High School. He attended the University of Miami on a tennis scholarship and graduated in 1956. In 1964, he earned his law degree from the UCLA School of Law, where he was president of his graduating class.
Marriage and family
Bugliosi was married, and his wife Gail had two children: a daughter, Wendy and a son, Vince Jr. He has often referred to his wife in his books, acknowledging her understanding and patience. Although raised as Roman Catholic, Bugliosi said later in life that he was an agnostic, although open to the ideas of deism.
Bugliosi began his law career in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office in 1964, where he served as a deputy district attorney for eight years, through 1972. He successfully prosecuted 105 out of 106 felony jury trials, which included 21 murder convictions. Bugliosi gained guilty verdicts in 105 out of those 106 cases.
As a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney, Bugliosi came to national attention for prosecuting the seven murders that took place August 9–10, 1969, in which Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Steven Parent, and Leno and Rosemary LaBianca were killed.
Bugliosi successfully prosecuted Charles Manson, Charles "Tex" Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Leslie Van Houten for these murders, and each was convicted. He was credited especially with gaining conviction of Manson, who had not been directly involved in the murders.
In 1972, Bugliosi ran as a Democrat for Los Angeles County District Attorney against longtime incumbent Joseph Busch. Joseph Gellman was his legal counsel for this campaign. Bugliosi narrowly lost the campaign. Bugliosi ran again in 1976, after Busch died of a heart attack in 1975, but lost to interim District Attorney John Van de Kamp, who was incumbent.
After leaving the Los Angeles district attorney's office in 1972, Bugliosi turned to private practice. He represented three criminal defendants, achieving acquittals for each of them—the most famous of which was Stephanie Stearns (referred to as "Jennifer Jenkins" in his book), whom he defended for the murder of Eleanor "Muff" Graham on Palmyra Atoll, a South Pacific island.
After leaving the DA's office, Bugliosi wrote, jointly with Curt Gentry, a book about the Manson trial called Helter Skelter (1974). The book won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the best true crime book of the year.
It was adapted twice for television movies (one produced in 1976 and one in 2004). As of 2015, it is the best-selling true crime book in publishing history, with more than 7 million copies sold.
In his books, Bugliosi subsequently often used them as a forum to criticize the conduct of the media, lawyers, and judges in major trials.
O. J. Simpson case
Bugliosi wrote Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O. J. Simpson Got Away with Murder (1996), about the acquittal of O. J. Simpson for the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman. Bugliosi argues that Simpson was guilty. He criticizes the work of the district attorney, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and Judge Lance Ito. He criticized the media for characterizing Simpson's lawyers as "the Dream Team," and said that the lawyers were unremarkable and of average ability. He used his profiles to explore what he considers broader problems in American criminal justice, the media, and the political appointment of judges. His book about a sensational case that attracted international attention became a bestseller.
In the book, Bugliosi severely criticizes prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden. Bugliosi argued that a major mistake in the trial was the District Attorney's assignment of Clark and Darden as prosecutors; he considered the two to be average prosecutors who lacked the competence and skill to try such a significant murder case as Simpson's. Bugliosi noted what he thought were glaring mistakes made by the prosecution; for example, he faults prosecutors for not introducing the note Simpson had written before trying to flee, which one friend took to be a suicide note. Bugliosi writes that the note "reeked" of guilt, and the jury should have been allowed to see it. He also noted that the jury was never told that Simpson was traveling with his friend Cowlings with a change of clothing, a large amount of cash, his passport, and a disguise kit. Bugliosi criticized Clark and Darden for not allowing the jury to hear the tape of Simpson's statement to police about cutting his finger the night of the murders, in which he prevaricates over his story.
Bugliosi writes that the prosecutors should have gone into more detail about Simpson's abuse of his wife, Nicole Simpson. He writes that it should have been made clear to the mostly African-American jury that Simpson had little impact in the black community and had done nothing to help blacks less fortunate than he. Bugliosi points out that, although the prosecutors knew that Simpson's race had nothing to do with the murders, once the defense "opened the door" by trying to paint Simpson falsely as a "leader" in the black community, the evidence to the contrary should have been presented to prevent the jury from allowing it to bias their verdict.
In several books, including Helter Skelter, Til Death Us Do Part, and And the Sea Will Tell, Bugliosi stated that when preparing a case for trial, he starts with his final summation. In this book about the O.J. Simpson case, he states that if he had been prosecuting the case, he would have put at least 500 hours of preparation into his final summation. He believed that Clark and Darden did not prepare theirs until the night before.
Bugliosi writes at length about the allegations that LAPD detective Mark Fuhrman had planted a glove in order to frame Simpson. He argues that in order for Fuhrman to do this, there would have had to have been a vast conspiracy between Fuhrman and the other officers who worked on the case. Bugliosi said that it was highly improbable that Fuhrman or anyone else would have tried to frame Simpson. California law at the time provided that anyone who planted evidence in a death penalty case could have faced the death penalty themselves (though in the end, the prosecutors did not seek the death penalty out of fear of race riots similar to those resulting from the Rodney King case).
Bugliosi criticized the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Clinton v. Jones. In his book, No Island of Sanity, he argues that the right of a president to be free of a private lawsuit while in office outweighed Paula Jones's interest in having her case brought to trial immediately.
George W. Bush
Bugliosi condemned the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Bush v. Gore case that decided the 2000 presidential election. He wrote a lengthy criticism of the case for The Nation, titled "None Dare Call It Treason," which he later expanded into a book titled The Betrayal of America. Some of his criticisms were depicted in the 2004 documentary Orwell Rolls in His Grave.
He also believed that George W. Bush should have been charged with the murders of more than 4,000 American soldiers who have died in Iraq since the American-led invasion of that country, because of his belief that Bush launched the invasion under false pretenses. In his book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, he laid out his view of evidence and outlined what questions he would ask Bush at a potential murder trial. Bugliosi testified at a House Judiciary Committee meeting on July 25, 2008, at which he urged impeachment proceedings for Bush. The book formed the basis of a 2012 documentary film, The Prosecution of an American President.
Bugliosi argues that, under the felony-murder rule, the resulting deaths of over 4,000 American soldiers and 100,000 Iraqi civilians (as of spring 2008) since hostilities began can be charged against Bush as second-degree murder. He said that any of the 50 state attorneys general, as well as any district attorney in the United States, had sufficient grounds to indict Bush for the murder of any soldier or soldiers who live in their state or county
In 1986, Bugliosi played the part of prosecutor in an unscripted 21-hour mock television trial of Lee Harvey Oswald. His legal opponent, representing Oswald, was the well-known criminal defense attorney Gerry Spence. London Weekend Television sponsored the mock trial, which followed Texas criminal trial procedure. It also included a former Texas judge and a jury of U.S. citizens from the Dallas area which reviewed hundreds of exhibits and listened to witnesses who testified about the assassination. The jury found Oswald guilty. Spence remarked, "No other lawyer in America could have done what Vince did in this case."
The program required extensive preparation by Bugliosi and inspired him to later write a comprehensive book on the subject of the assassination. His 1,612-page book (with a CD-ROM containing an additional 958 pages of endnotes and 170 pages of source notes), Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, was published in May 2007. His book examined the JFK assassination in detail and drew on a variety of sources; his findings were in line with those of the Warren Report, which concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of the 35th President. He called Reclaiming History his "magnum opus." The book won the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime. A portion of the book was re-published in 2008 as Four Days in November: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which became the basis of the 2013 film Parkland.
The title of Reclaiming History derived from Bugliosi's belief that the history of the Kennedy assassination has been hijacked by conspiracy theories, the popularity of which, he asserted, has a pernicious and ongoing effect on American thought:
Unless this fraud is finally exposed, the word believe will be forgotten by future generations and John F. Kennedy will have unquestionably become the victim of a conspiracy. Belief will have become unchallenged fact, and the faith of the American people in their institutions further eroded. If that is allowed to happen, Lee Harvey Oswald, a man who hated his country and everything for which it stands, will have triumphed even beyond his intent on that fateful day in November.— Vincent Bugliosi, Reclaiming History, p.1011.
We are talking about a conspiracy to commit murder ... a conspiracy the prodigious dimensions of which would make Watergate look like a one-roach marijuana case.
Method of writing
Bugliosi did not own a computer and at one time did all his research through library microfilm archives. In his later years, he relied on his virtual secretary, Rosemary Newton, to help with these tasks. He also wrote his books entirely by hand, with Newton later transcribing his long-hand texts.
- Helter Skelter (with Curt Gentry) (1974) (Edgar Award, 1975, Best Fact Crime book)
- Till Death Us Do Part: A True Murder Mystery (with Ken Hurwitz) (1978) (Edgar Award, 1979, Best Fact Crime book)
- Shadow of Cain (with Ken Hurwitz) (1981)
- Lullaby and Good Night (with William Stadiem) (1987)
- Cleopatra: Biography (1988)
- Dinner with the Timbo: Getting to Know a Great Man (with Timothy Bishop) (1990)
- And the Sea Will Tell (with Bruce Henderson) (1991)
- Drugs in America: The Case for Victory - A Citizen's Call to Action (1991)
- The Phoenix Solution: Getting Serious About Winning America's Drug War (1996)
- Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O. J. Simpson Got Away with Murder (1996)
- No Island of Sanity: Paula Jones v. Bill Clinton—The Supreme Court on Trial (1998)
- The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President (2001)
- Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy (2007) (Edgar Award, 2008, Best Fact Crime book)
- The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder (2008)
- Divinity of Doubt: The God Question (2011)
Bugliosi has had many of his books adapted to the screen, and appears as a character in several of them.
- Helter Skelter 1976 (portrayed by George DiCenzo)
- And the Sea Will Tell 1991 TV film (portrayed by Richard Crenna)
- Till Death Us Do Part 1992 TV film (portrayed by Arliss Howard)
- Helter Skelter 2004 (portrayed by Bruno Kirby)
- No Justice, No Peace, Playboy, February, 1993.
- "None Dare Call It Treason", The Nation, February 5, 2001.
- Rebecca Trounson and Elaine Woo, "Famed Manson family prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi dies at 80," Los Angeles Times, June 9, 2015.
- David Stout, "Vincent T. Bugliosi, Manson Prosecutor and True-Crime Author, Dies at 80," New York Times, June 9, 2015.
- June 14 2011 interview on the Dennis Prager Show
- The Nation: Vince Bugliosi bio
- Bugliosi, Vincent (1996). Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 356 pgs. ISBN 978-0393040500.
- Petievich, Gerald (July 6, 1996). "Simpson Prosecution Guilty of Incompetence?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
- Bennet, James (March 11, 1998). "Testing of a President". The New York Times. Retrieved January 21, 2014.
- Bugliosi, Vincent (February 5, 2001). "None dare call it treason". The Nation.
- The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder: About The Author
- The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder ISBN 978-1-59315-481-3(2008) Acknowledgments
- "Mystery Writers of America Announces the 2008 Edgar Award Winners". May 1, 2008. Retrieved May 2, 2009.
- Turner, William W.; Christian, Jonn G. (1978). The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: a searching look at the conspiracy and cover-up, 1968–1978. Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-40273-4.
- Noyes, Jack; Goff, Kelly (June 9, 2015). "Former LA Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi Dies at 80". NBC4 Los Angeles – KNBC. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
- Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2. McFarland & Company (2016) ISBN 0786479922
- VIDEO: Bugliosi talks with Investigation Discovery about the Manson Family murders. July 2, 2008
- Vincent Bugliosi video interview with the American Book Tour on the Kennedy Assassination
- Vincent Bugliosi Interview on Democracy Now! regarding The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Vincent Bugliosi on IMDb
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