BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The battle for convicted killer Charles Manson's remains is over – at least for now.
Kern County Commissioner Alisa Knight ruled Monday that Jason Freeman is entitled to the remains, which have been held at the Kern County Coroner’s office since Manson died in Mercy Hospital Nov. 19.
None of the three men suing to get Manson’s body said exactly what they would do with it, but each promised a respectful treatment.
Jason Freeman said he is Manson's grandson. He remembered the infamous cult killer as a "kind and giving person."
Michael Brunner said he is Manson's son.
Michael Channels, said he was Manson’s long-time prison pen pal.
The body has been refrigerated at the Coroner’s Office for about three months. The Kern County Counsel’s Office asked Commissioner Knight for permission to cremate the body and preserve the ashes for whomever wins the custody case. Knight took that request into consideration on March 7.
As a court commissioner, Knight serves many of the same functions as a judge. As with decisions by a judge, her decision in this case is subject to appeal to a higher court.
During the hearings, Brunner's attorney, Daniel Mortensen, said, "We would suggest that people claiming to be related submit to DNA testing, as we will. If you're not related, you agree to drop out."
Channels claims to have Manson's will, dated Valentine's Day 2002. Mortensen asked for Channels to be dismissed from the case, stating remains could not be granted through a will.
Manson was serving a life sentence for orchestrating the infamous Beverly Hills killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight others in 1969. It was the most well-known mass killing of that era.
Manson was of being the leader of a cult that carried out the killings. He was convicted of seven counts of murder and conspiracy even though it never was proved he personally killed anyone.
He was sentenced to death in that case. That judgment was reduced to life – with the possibility of parole -- when the State Supreme Court overturned the death penalty in 1977.
He was also convicted of two separate unrelated murders in 1969. He received life terms in those cases as well.
He was housed in Corcoran State Prison, in Kings County, about 65 miles northwest of Bakersfield. He developed colon cancer and was treated at Mercy Hospital on Truxtun Avenue in Downtown Bakersfield.
He died at the age of 83 on Nov. 19, 2017.