Linda Deutsch, the trial reporter for Associated Press who got her start in the courthouse as a fill-in covering the Charles Manson family in 1969, will retire on Monday. She plans to write a memoir, AP just announced in a story out of the Los Angeles bureau. Deutsch, 71, will have spent 48 years with the wire service, after beginning as the only woman in the LA office. "Linda leaves an incredible legacy," said Traci Carl, AP's West editor. "For five decades, she bore witness to some of the most sensational trials in U.S. history. She cherished her role as the public's eyes and ears at these events, and never wavered in her commitment to accurate and objective reporting."
From AP's John Rogers:
By the time Manson and his followers were convicted, Deutsch was the AP's trials expert. She would eventually earn the title "special correspondent" as she traveled the country reporting on the most prominent court cases of the day ? everything from the 1976 trial of newspaper heiress and kidnap-victim-turned-bank-robber Patty Hearst to the negligence trial of the captain of the tanker Exxon Valdez, which caused one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history.
After Michael Jackson was acquitted of molesting a teenage fan, he called Deutsch for an exclusive interview. When the "Night Stalker," Richard Ramirez, was sentenced to death for a series of murders that terrorized Los Angeles in the mid-1980s, Deutsch was the first reporter out of a packed courtroom, running down a hallway to corral a handful of jurors who told her the survivors' testimony of being raped and witnessing murders had given them nightmares for months.
"She's just extremely ethical, extremely professional and very, very honest," said high-profile defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, who watched Deutsch work as he successfully defended Jackson on the child molestation charge and actor Robert Blake on a murder charge. "If she tells you something is off the record you can bet your life that it is. She also has a great belief in the importance of her profession as an honorable, valuable institution in society."
Deutsch had been covering trials for 25 years when the public finally a put a face with the veteran AP reporter's byline. After one of America's most beloved sports stars, O.J. Simpson, was charged with killing his wife and her friend, Judge Lance Ito made her the pool reporter during jury selection. She went on to appear on television every day to summarize what had transpired.
Simpson tracked her down after the trial and gave Deutsch his side of the story. They have talked many times since in exclusive interviews. Last month she broke the news that Manson, now 80, planned to marry.
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