Manson Cult Girl Reverses Grand Jury Testimony
Tuesday, March 16th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 16 — The girl whose testimony before the grand jury indicted hippie leader Charles Manson for an eighth murder took the witness stand in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial today and refused to even mention his name in connection with the crime.
Risking the death penalty for her testimony, former University of Wisconsin librarian Mary Brunner denied she was ever at the home of Topanga Canyon musician Gary Hinman, completely reversing her testimony before the grand jury.
In her earlier testimony before the grand jury she claimed she helped Susan Atkins and Robert Beausoleil kill the 34-year-old musician on orders from Manson. She said Manson had come to Hinman’s house and slashed his ear in an attempt to coerce him into signing over two of his cars to the “family.” When Hinman refused to cooperate, Manson ordered him killed.
Because of Miss Brunner’s testimony at the trial of Beausoleil, he was convicted of the crime and sentenced to die. Because of her testimony before the county group, Manson and Miss Atkins were indicted in the crime: Miss Brunner was granted immunity. Today, the long-haired Wisconsin native changed her story, claiming she was not at the Hinman home and had been told about the killing by Miss Atkins and Leslie Van Houten, who she said was also present. She said she had been told by Miss Van Houten that Miss Atkins had killed Hinman but that Miss Atkins’ stories varied slightly about the murder.
Miss Brunner testified that she had been told that Hinman’s ear had been cut before he had been killed but couldn’t remember who did the cutting.
Testifying in the penalty phase of the Tate-LaBianca murder trial, Miss Brunner denied she had been anywhere near the musician’s home when he was murdered. She earlier had been granted immunity to act as the prosecution’s star witness in the Hinman murder trial.
Monday she testified that police officers had warned her before her testimony about Hinman: “I would be arrested if I didn’t incriminate Mr. Manson.”
She testified in an attempt to save Manson and his three girl codefendants — Miss Atkins, Miss Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel — from the gas chamber for the seven Tate-LaBianca killings. She’s the mother of Manson’s child.
At the earlier trial, Miss Brunner testified that she was at Hinman’s home in July, 1969, with Miss Atkins and Beausoleil. At Manson’s telephonic command, she said, she joined in the killing of the 36-year-old UCLA student.
Miss Brunner said she met Manson in April, 1967, while she was working as a librarian at UC Berkeley. She said she had lived with him and others continually since then, until her arrest for credit card forgery a day before the Tate murders.
By MARY NEISWENDER