Manson Becomes Irritated as Hearing Held About Witness
Friday, October 30th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 30 – A hearing into the competency of the final prosecution witness in the Tate LaBianca murder case continued today with the chief defendant, cult leader Charles Manson, becoming more irritated and outspoken.
As one of two court appointed psychiatrists continued to explain why he felt former Manson “family” member Diane Lake was qualified to testify Manson’s voice interrupted.
“What are you hiding now?” Manson shouted at Superior Court Judge Charles Older when the judge refused to allow the girl’s history at Patton State Hospital to be read.
As defense attorney Ronald Hughes, conducting cross examination of Dr. Harold Deering, began to close the file, Manson again shouted, “Read it anyway, Hughes.”
Manson was obviously irritated as the judge admonished him to remain silent or he would remove him from the courtroom “as I have done on earlier occasions.”
At this point a teenaged girl began laughing and crying hysterically and was removed from the room. Authorities said she had a “drug flashback.”
Witness Diane Lake was brought into the courtroom by Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi. She was dressed in a blue and white jumper and was taunted by two members of Manson’s family as she emerged from the elevator.
Shouting “you ain’t plastic and you know it — you can’t turn your back on your love,” Lyn Fromme and Sandra Good, two “family” members who have kept vigils outside the courthouse for the past month, tried to talk to the girl but were prevented by deputies.
Miss Lake was admitted to Patton State Hospital in January 1970, and diagnosed as an “incurable psychotic.” Two weeks later, the diagnosis was changed to “normal teenager.” Defense attorney contend she was kept at the hospital to help the prosecution case against Manson and his three defendants.
The first two psychiatrists to testify Thursday claimed the girl was “competent and capable” of testifying in the now 20-week-old trial.
The girl is expected to testify that she had a conversation in September 1969 with one of the three girl defendants in the case — Leslie Van Houten — in which she confessed to the killing of market owner Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary the day after the killings at the home of actress Sharon Tate.
During cross-examination by defense attorney Irving Kanarek the girl’s background was detailed briefly. Her parents, Dr. Blake Skrdla testified, gave her and their other children LSD as youngsters.
The parents apparently “dropped out” of society when Diane was 13 and began living in a bread truck, associating with hippies in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district, the doctor testified.
“The father sent her from the home because he felt that a girl of 13 should fend for herself — he shoved her out — isn’t that so?” Kanarek asked.
The doctor agreed, adding that Diane “didn’t approve” what her parents were doing and went to live with another couple with whom she had abnormal sex relations.
Despite this, Dr. Skrdla said, she had a good childhood.
Dr. Harold Deering, another court-appointed psychiatrist, also claimed the girl was competent despite her drug habit and childhood.
By MARY NEISWENDER