Defense Sums Up Case For Tate Jurors
Tuesday, December 29th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 29 – The defense says Charles Manson and three women codefendants are innocent of the Sharon Tate murders end the real killers are still at large.
Paul Fitzgerald, head of the four-attorney defense team, also told the jury Monday that the state’s star witness, Linda Kasabian, lied under oath in order to save her own life.
In the first day of his often dramatic summation, Fitzgerald gave the jurors their first look at the defense side of the case.
The four defense attorneys had presented no witnesses or evidence, and Fitzgerald was the first to state in court that persons still unknown might have killed the blonde actress and six others in two slaying sprees in August 1969.
He cited a piece of prosecution evidence — a pair of eyeglasses found at the Tate mansion which have not been connected to an owner.
“Those glasses were introduced into the residence by the person or persons actually responsible for the deaths,” said Fitzgerald.
Mrs. Kasabian was the state’s only asserted eyewitness to any of the killings. Fitzgerald said she may have made up the whole tale to win immunity from prosecution.
“If you could save your life by making up a story, wouldn’t you?” asked the attorney.
Mrs. Kasabian, 21, mother of two, testified that she went with members of Manson’s hippie-style “family” on a murder mission to Miss Tate’s home, where five persons were slaughtered, and one the following night to kill Mr. and Mrs. Leno LaBianca, wealthy food store proprietors. She was indicted with Manson and the other women on murder-conspiracy charges but went free after she testified.
“It’s when she’s got a gun up to her head, when she sees that her life is hanging in the balance, that she decides she has to say something, folks,” Fitzgerald said.
“Her testimony might be worth something if she reported it when it might have done some good …But I submit to you that she didn’t report it because it didn’t happen the way she said it happened.”
The attorney said a shoe heelprint was found on a bloody walk at the Tate mansion but Mrs. Kasabian testified that all defendants with her at the scene were barefoot.
No flesh or hair was found under victims’ fingernails, indicating, Fitzgerald said, that they didn’t fight the assailants.
“An inference could be drawn that one or more victims knew the killer or killers,” he said.
Fitzgerald urged the panel to have “the courage to acquit.”
“We’re playing for big stakes here,” he told them. “Lives hang in the balance. If you’re going to convict someone, you’ve got to be absolutely sure. Don’t trust the testimony of a liar.”
By LINDA DEUTSCH