Expert Changes Mind On Manson Role
Wednesday, March 10th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 10 — A psychiatrist testifying in the penalty phase of the Tate-LaBianca murder trial today reversed himself, claiming hippie leader Charles Manson had a “very important influence” on the three girls convicted with him of murder.
Meanwhile, it was learned Manson has agreed to talk to the psychiatrist, Dr. Joel Hochman. Up to this point the cult chieftain has refused to talk to any psychiatrist.
The 30-year-old psychiatrist said on Tuesday he felt Manson’s influence on the girls, especially Leslie Van Houten, whom he had interviewed earlier, was not great.
Tuesday night, after the court session, Dr. Hochman interviewed the other two girl defendants, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel. He told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury which will decide whether they live or die for their part in the slayings, that it was now his opinion the cult chieftain had a very important influence on them.
He cited the fact the girls quote Manson directly and frequently, repeating his phrases and his praises over and over again.
“All the girls have a history of persistently searching for something or someone to fulfill their psychological needs,” the doctor said. “And Mr. Manson seems to fill that need. Whether this was intentional I don’t know and I don’t want to be the indicter of anyone.
“It is clear from history that Manson encountered thousands of girls…but only a limited number followed him. All found external gratification…acceptance…a sense of total freedom from guilt found a sense of communication not found elsewhere…found a sense of honesty among themselves and found order in a world otherwise meaningless.”
Dr. Hochman claimed Mr. Manson was the “core…the central figure” and that Charles “Tex” Watson, now awaiting trial for the murders, and believed to be the “leader” in the murders themselves, was not important to the girls.
Dr. Hochman testified Tuesday that the killings would not have been committed without the use of LSD.
Dr. Hochman, a research fellow at UCLA and a drug abuse consultant for the county, interviewed Miss Van Houten in Sybil Brand Institute last Saturday.
Although hedging noticeably, Dr. Hochman said if the girl was on LSD at the time of the murders — which she has claimed she was — “it facilitated the act.”
He added that he felt she would not have killed without LSD, but claimed the opinion is only speculation because of his limited exposure to the girl.
Describing her “problemless existence,” Dr. Hochman said Miss Van Houten “went into drugs with a vengeance.” He said he has seen only one other case in his lengthy career where the patient began using drugs so violently.
“She loves Mr. Manson and thought him to be a wonderful person,” he said. “But her feelings toward Robert Beausoleil (a family member now on death row for his part in the murder of musician Gary Hinman) were much stronger sexually. Manson was short and turned her off. Bobby was beautiful and physically attractive.”
The psychiatrist claimed Miss Van Houten was a chronic user of psychedelic drugs who now trusts no one because of the “confession” of her fellow murderess Susan Atkins.
He claimed she used the LaBianca murders “clinically.”
“Leslie said she didn’t feel anything when stabbing Mrs. LaBianca. It was like a shark killing another fish. It was an animal thing. At the time it horrified her that the killing was part of her, but now she accepts it. It’s a matter of factual.”
He said that if he had seen the girl before the murders he would have thought she would. never kill anything. He later almost reversed his position when he said she had inner hostility toward her parents and LSD and the influence of Manson brought it out.
Manson not only ordered his followers to kill the five people in the Tate home but also told them to go next door and do the same thing, an attorney testified earlier Tuesday.
Richard Caballero, formerly representing Miss Atkins, told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury which is to decide whether Manson and his three girl friends are to live or die for the brutal Tate-LaBianca murders, that his former client “never questioned what Charlie did — just did it.”
As Caballero continued to damage Manson through his testimony, the cult chieftain interrupted the questioning.
“Your honor, is it proper for two district attorneys to be questioning each other in my behalf?” he said, apparently referring to the fact that Caballero is a former district attorney.
Manson interrupted two more times, with similar comments, before Judge Charles Older’s warning silenced him.
Under cross examination by Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi, Caballero said his client never told him that the murders were committed to free Beausoleil. Miss Atkins, on the witness stand, claimed that was the motive for the killings.
Caballero told the jury that Miss Atkins had said the motive was to begin a black-white race war.
“She said the reason Manson picked the Tate house was to instill fear into Terry Melcher. (Melcher, the son of movie star Doris Day, had rejected Manson’s musical talents.)
“Charlie also told them to go to the next-door neighbor’s house and do the same thing,” Caballero said.
“I never questioned what Charlie did,” he quoted his client as saying.
Caballero also said Manson told his followers the day after the Tate murders: “Now, last time you blew it — you panicked the people. This time let the people (Rosemary and Leno LaBianca) go in peace.”
Miss Atkins, Caballero said, never admitted to him that she killed anyone.
“She said she had a knife at the Tate house and was holding Sharon Tate when Tex (Watson) said ‘kill her.”
“She said she couldn’t do it…so she just held her down while Tex killed her and Sharon Tate begged for her baby and herself.”
By MARY NEISWENDER