Susan Atkins Tells Tate Death Details
Saturday, December 6th, 1969
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 6 – A young woman told a grand jury Friday what her attorney said were “all the details” of the slaying of actress Sharon Tate hippie-style clan.
Susan Denise Atkins, 21, whose statements to a jail cellmate led to police charges in at least eight slayings, was one of a list of 22 slated for testimony.
Miss Atkins’ attorney, Richard Caballero, said that while the was present at the killings of Miss Tate and four others, and of a wealthy market owner and his wife the next day, her defense will be that she was temporarily insane while under a “hypnotic spell” of the clan’s leader.
Miss Atkins, he said, waived immunity to prosecution. As she left the morning session, the tall. soft-spoken brunette said she would “answer anything they asked me.” She wore a pink velvet dress with puffed Sleeves.
Miss Tate, 26, blonde wife of film director Roman Polanski, three jet-set friends and a young friend of the caretaker at the Polanski’s were slain by gunfire and stabbings at the Polanski home on Aug. 9.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Aaron Stovitz said he will ask the grand jury to indict the bearded cult leader, Charles M. Manson, 35, an ex-convict, on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
Stovitz said he also will seek, murder and conspiracy indictments against at least five other persons.
Under arrest in the Tate case are Patricia Krenwinkel, 21, in Mobile. Ala.; Charles D. Watson, 24, in McKinney, Tex., and Linda Louise Kasabian, 19, brought here from Concord, N.H.
Mrs. Kasabian’s attorney, Al Matthews, arrived at the grand jury rooms and said he fears for her safety. He said he has asked that she be given protection similar to that provided Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, convicted assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
“I’ve also asked that they put her in the infirmary because she is pregnant,” said Matthews.
He said he particularly fears any confrontation between Mrs. Kasabian and Manson.
“Considering the testimony by Miss Atkins concerning the hypnotic state which Manson put her in,” Matthews said, “to have him and my client see each other might act as a turnon.”
He said Mrs Kasabian has described Manson as “a very remarkable man. He had a kind of charismatic aura.”
Matthews said Mrs. Kasabian lived in the clan’s commune for about a month after her husband left her with a small child.
As witnesses assembled in the grand jury’s quarters in the Hall of Justice. Deputy Dist. Attys. Stovita and Vincent T. Bugliosi arrived carrying three large photographs showing:
– A .22-caliber, nine-shot “long ‘horn” revolver purportedly used to kill Steven Parent, 18, friend of the caretaker at the estate.
– A 43 foot nylon cord found draped over a beam and around the necks of Miss Tate and hair stylist Jay Sebring, 35, another of the victims.
– An aerial view of the home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles of Leno LaBianca, 44, wealthy market owner, and his wife Rosemary, 38, both slain in their house the night alter the Tate murders.
Another attorney for Miss Atkins. Paul Caruso, has quoted her as saying the killers picked the LaBianca home at random and stabbed the couple to show they hadn’t Iost their nerve.
In a separate case. Miss Atkins is charged with murdering Malibu musician Gary Hinman, with whom Manson is said to have lived for a time
It was Miss Atkins’ jail conversations with a cellmate about the Tate and LaBianca killings that led to arrests in the Tate case, Stovitz said.
Caballero said Miss Atkins waived rights against self-incrimination and agreed to tell the grand jury “exactly what happened” in a gamble that her voluntary testimony will save her from the gas chamber.
Also killed in the Tate slayings were Abigail Folger, 26, San Francisco coffee heiress, and Voityck Frowkowsky, 37, polish playboy.
Scheduled witnesses included producer Terry Melcher, 27, son of singer-actress Doris Day. Miss Atkins’ attorneys have said Manson, a guitar-playing, aspiring singer and songwriter, unsuccessfully sought Melcher’s help in recording songs when Melcher lived in the mansion before the Polanskis moved in.