Manson Murder Trial Delayed by Illness of Juror
Friday, November 6th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 6 – The illness of a woman juror today delayed resumption of the Tate-LaBianca murder trial.
Mrs. Thelma McKenzie, a county employe, complained of being ill Thursday night and was examined at County-USC Medical Center.
Doctors recommended she rest this morning.
Meanwhile, Manson “family” dropout Dianne Lake has decided to continue her testimony despite threats by defense attorneys that she may he cited for perjury. She has refused to accept the advice of her court-appointed attorney, George Vaughn, that she not give further testimony.
Vaughn was appointed to represent the 17-year-old Miss Lake by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Older during a closed-door session in the jurist’s chambers Thursday.
Miss Lake’s testimony was halted abruptly Thursday when she was asked where she was on the nights of the murders at the homes of actress Sharon Tate and market owner Leno LaBianca — Aug. 8-9, 1969.
“I was at the Spahn Movie Ranch,” she answered, indicating the Charles Manson “family” home during the summer of 1969.
“Are you telling the truth?” chief defense counsel Paul Fitzgerald asked quickly.
“Yes,” the teenager answered.
“Isn’t it true that when you went before the county grand jury in December of 1969, you said…”
Fitzgerald’s question was never finished because of an objection by prosecutors, who requested an at the bench conference with the judge. It was during this secret session that Vaughn was appointed to represent the girl.
(The girl allegedly testified before the grand jury that she was not at the Spahn Ranch in August, and knew nothing about the murders.)
Miss Lake’s testimony, especially as relating to Leslie Van Houten’s alleged “confession” to the LaBianca killings, is the only evidence presented to corroborate star prosecution witness Linda Kasabian’s story of Ihe crimes. Since Mrs. Kasabian is considered an accomplice, corroborating testimony is required by law for conviction.
Direct examination of Miss Lake brought out that Manson had claimed he was “going to have to start the black revolution.” Prosecutors claim the killings at the homes of actress Sharon Tate and market owner Leno LaBianca were to foment the black-white race war.
Miss Lake, who now lives with the family of an Inyo County district attorney’s investigator, told the jury that Manson talked about the race war from the time she joined his “family” in 1967 until she left shortly after his arrest on the murder charges.
“In the summer of 1969, Charlie began speaking more about ‘helter skelter’,” she said. “Then in mid-summer he said it was getting nearer.”
“Helter skelter” referred to the race war, she said.
“Did Mr. Manson ever say anything about killing people?” Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi asked.
“Yes,” Miss Lake said. “We had to be willing to kill ‘pigs’ to help the black people to start the revolution. ‘Pigs’, Charlie said, were people with lots of money who belonged to the establishment.”
By MARY NEISWENDER