DA Knew of Atkins’ Confession to Paper
Tuesday, March 9th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 9 — The Los Angeles district attorney’s office knew of the impending publication of a “confession” to the Tate-LaBianca murders before the story appeared in-print, a witness testified today.
Atty. Richard Caballero, on the stand for the third day in the penalty phase of the marathon trial, said he mentioned that his former client Susan Atkins’ story was to be published to a representative of the office whom he believed to be former chief prosecutor Aaron Stovitz.
Caballero said Stovitz appeared to be angry but he didn’t know if anything was done by the district attorney’s office to halt publication of the confession. The story appeared in a Los Angeles newspaper a week after Miss Atkins testified before a grand jury.
Caballero testified Monday that other members of Charles Manson’s hippie “Family”— not only the ones convicted of the Tate-LaBianca murders — wanted to go along on murder sprees but “there wasn’t enough room in the car,” a witness testified Monday.
He also claimed on the witness stand in Los Angeles Superior Court that his ex-client does not deserve to die in the gas chamber.
The prosecution, he claims, promised to give her a prison term — and not death — if she testified before the grand jury. She did, he said, and does not now deserve what the district attorney’s office is seeking — death in the gas chamber.
The dapper young attorney said he “rushed” Miss Atkins into the grand jury because he was fearful that the longer he waited the “more chance there was that Manson and his group would get to her and get her not to testify.”
“Susan was fearful and didn’t want to testify because she didn’t know what kind of vibrations Manson would send out.”
Although Caballero, from the witness stand warned Manson’s attorney, Irving Kanarek, not to ask “certain questions,” the attorney did, eliciting testimony which damaged the cult chieftain.
Manson has not been charged with “ordering” his followers to the home of Topanga Canyon musician Gary Hinman; however, Caballero said his former client told him she was ordered to go to the house and kill Hinman.
“Susan said he (Manson) asked her to go to Gary Hinman’s home,” Caballero said under questioning by Kanarek, “to tie him up and kill him, but to get him to sign over all his (automobile) papers to her before killing him.”
Manson, the attorney added, also gave her “information and advice” about going into the Tate house. Manson had spoken to Watson (Charles “Tex” Watson, currently awaiting trial for the murders) about this and told her to go with Tex and do what he told her, Caballero said.
“When they returned she said he was upset about the messy job and he would show them how to do it right the next night,” Caballero continued.
“Others wanted to go along but there wasn’t enough room in the car,” the attorney said. “They stopped at several other houses but finally ended up at the LaBianca home. Charlie went in first…and came out and told them he’d tied them up and they should go in and kill them but not to get them upset.”
The attorney claimed his former client had always told him she never participated in any of the killings, and her “confession” to former cellmates had been misinterpreted.