Prosecution Ends Case in Tate-LaBianca Murders
Sunday, November 15th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 15 – The prosecution, in effect, ended its case Friday at the Tate-LaBianca murder trial.
The last prosecution witness completed his testimony and all that remains before the prosecution rests are arguments over admissibility over certain evidence.
The trial over the mass murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others has been under way for 22 weeks.
Dr. Harold C. Manuel Deering, a psychiatrist, was the 84th and final witness called by the state since the prosecution gave its opening statement against Charles Manson and three female followers last July 4.
The trial itself began on June 16, but the first few weeks were taken up selecting the seven man, five woman jury to try Manson and his co-defendants for the August 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others.
Dr. Deering, who was on the witness stand about a half a day, offered testimony that former prosecution witness, Dianne Lake, had been competent to take the witness stand.
Before the prosecution rests its case, probably sometime tomorrow, trial Judge Charles H. Older must decide which of the exhibits offered by the state will be shown to the jury.
The arguments on the exhibits, which will be in open court, were expected to be lengthy.
The defense, when it opens its case next week, is expected to call about 30 witnesses.
Lawyers for Manson and the others, had confided that they hoped to wrap up their case before Christmas, but this appeared doubtful because all estimates on the length of the trial have run far behind schedule.
Manson, the 36-year-old leader of a tribe of nomads called “the family” is expected to be called to the witness stand to testify in his own behalf.
However, he will be the final defense witness, if he testifies at all.
The defense case will be broken down into several parts, including the obvious rebuttal of prosecution witnesses who have linked Manson and the others with the slayings.
Defense lawyers reportedly will try to establish a new motive for the killings which will turn the finger of suspicion away from the defendants.
Manson’s three female codefendants — Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, both 22, and Leslie Van Houten, 20 — probably will not testify.
This holds true especially for Miss Atkins who reportedly admitted to the County Grand Jury in December that she participated in the crimes.
If Miss Atkins should take the witness stand, this would mean she could be questioned about her testimony before the Grand Jury, a subject which the defense wants kept away from the ears of the jury.
There is no real reason for Miss Van Houten to testify because the prosecution’s case against her is not particularly a strong one.
Miss Van Houten is only charged with two of the killings, both of market owner Leno LaBianca and his wife, and there have been only two state witnesses who have even remotely linked her with those deaths.
If any of the women testify, it will be Miss Krenwinkel, who was expected to say — if she took the witness stand — that she left a fingerprint at Miss Tate’s Benedict Canyon estate some weeks before the actual murders were committed.
Police found a fingerprint which they claimed is Miss Krenwinkel’s and another print allegedly belonging to 24-year-old Charles “Tex” Watson, another defendant, at the Tate estate.
Watson was not tried with the others because he was fighting extradition from Texas when the case began. Another Superior Court judge recently found Watson to be presently insane and he was committed to Atascadero State Hospital, a mental institution.
There have been unconfirmed reports that Watson might have known Miss Tate prior to the killings because of his involvement in a Hollywood wig business.
By SANDI METTETAL