LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A decision on whether a man who exchanged letters with Charles Manson holds a valid will in which the infamous cult leader named his pen pal the executor of his estate before his death moved closer to trial today.
In his court papers, Michael Channels maintains that a 2002 will, filed in Kern County in November 2017, names him as the executor of Manson's estate. However, Jason Freeman, a Florida man who says he is Manson's grandson, has filed a competing petition asking to be appointed the estate's permanent administrator.
Freeman has appealed an order by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Clifford L. Klein that he undergo DNA testing to determine whether his assertion of kinship to Manson is true. Today, Channels' lawyers asked the judge to set a trial date even though the appeal is still pending, and Klein set a trial-setting hearing for April 27.
Meanwhile, attorney Dale Kiken will remain in his previously appointed role as temporary special administrator over Manson's estate. Kiken originally was appointed to the role in August 2018, giving him authority to protect Freeman's interests.
Kiken was previously tasked with recovering property, on behalf of Freeman, that Manson left behind in prison when he died at age 83 on Nov. 19, 2017, at Bakersfield Mercy Hospital of heart failure triggered by colon cancer that had spread to other parts of his body.
Freeman won a significant court victory when a Kern County commissioner ruled in March 2018 that he was entitled to Manson's remains. Freeman and Kiken maintain that the 2002 Manson will Channels alleges he possesses is a forgery.
Kiken's lawyer, Alan Davis, said the Kern County order established that Freeman was Manson's grandson.
Klein, who said he was vacationing in Antarctica when he was first assigned the Manson case, told the lawyers he will retire soon and the trial will be heard by a new judge.
“When I first got the case, I didn't think I'd be near retirement when it went to trial,'' he said.
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