‘Killings Ain’t No Big Thing,’ Susan Testifies
Friday, February 12th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 12 – The killing of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in two nights of wanton slaughter “ain’t no big thing,” confessed murderess Susan Atkins told a startled courtroom Thursday.
“I didn’t relate to Sharon Tate as being anything but a store mannequin,” the Manson “family” member said with a slip of “her long hair. “She sounded like an IBM machine — words came out of her mouth but it didn’t make any sense to me.
“She kept begging and pleading and begging and pleading until I got sick of it. So I stabbed her.”
The 22-year-old girl’s testimony since Tuesday when she “confessed” to the Tate-LaBianca killings and the murder of Topanga Canyon musician Gary Hinman has made spectators and jurors gasp.
The following day, when she showed no remorse — claiming she “felt no guilt” — again stunned the courtroom. Thursday’s testimony by the former topless go-go dancer went even further.
Under cross-examination by Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi the girl said she didn’t tell the Family’s leader Charles Manson about the murders at the Tate home because in my mind, I knew he “knew.” She had denied that the cult chieftain participated in either the Tate or LaBianca murders.
“If Charlie had been there when we left on the murder spree – which he wasn’t – there would have been room in the car for him, but the car was pretty crowded,” she replied as Bugliosi attempted to show she was lying on the stand to protect Manson.
“But seven murders — seven bodies…to you ain’t no big thing?” the prosecutor asked.
“It wasn’t at the time,” she answered quickly. “It was just there to do.”
Bugliosi asked if she didn’t tell a cellmate her words to the dying actress were: “Look Bitch, I don’t have any mercy for you?”
“Yeh, That’s what I said and I meant it — I still do. Everything was moving fast but everything was crystal clear to me at the time of the murders. It was there to do and I did it. I didn’t know what I was doing in your world, but there was nothing to it in my mind.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time. It just happened and it was right,” she said of the murders. “It was a good idea at the time because my brother was in jail for something I did, and it would have worked if I hadn’t talked to Virginia Graham and Roni Howard (cellmates who reported her confession to police). It would have worked if you just look at it.”
The girl referred to what she claims was motive for the murders — copycat killings in an attempt to take the blame off another “family” member Robert Beausoleil who had been jailed for the Hinman murder.
Bugliosi continued to push the theory that Miss Atkins — along with the rest of the girls in the Manson Family — thought the cult leader was God.
“To me in my head he was God. He was so beautiful. I would do anything for God. I would commit anything for the God I believe in.”
“And Manson is your God,” Bugliosi shouted.
“I murdered them for my God — Bobby Beausoleil,” she replied.
“Then you’ve got two Gods?” the prosecutor shouted. But before the girl could answer defense attorney’s objected to the prosecutor “yelling at a witness.”
Earlier, her testimony about the killing of the Topanga Canyon musician a week before the Tate killings chilled the courtroom. She told how, after Manson had cut Hinman’s ear with a sword, she jumped on the musician and stabbed him. She said he fell to the floor and she hit him with the butt of his own gun then ordered him to the living room. She said she stitched the ear together with dental floss but killed him after he refused to stop talking about getting even with Manson.
“He took a long time to die, Vince,” the girl told the prosecutor. “I didn’t want to kill him, I wanted to talk to him.
“Gary (Hinman) was mumbling. He said ‘I’ll kill him for this.’ I wiped blood off and fixed his ear. I didn’t want to kill him. He kept saying ‘I’ll kill him.’ I didn’t want to…but I couldn’t let him hurt Charlie. I remember killing him, but I don’t remember anything else. I never struck out at anyone before.”
Asked how many times she stabbed Hinman, the girl claimed she didn’t know, adding: “I haven’t seen the autopsy report yet…I haven’t been to trial yet on that, case.”
By MARY NEISWENDER