Susan Confesses Murder; Sobbing Halts Testimony
Tuesday, February 9th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 9 – A sobbing Susan Atkins today confessed on the witness stand that she murdered Topanga Canyon musician Gary Hinman and was “there” during the murders of actress Sharon Tate and four others.
Her testimony was cut short when she burst into tears and was unable to continue.
Giving a detailed account of her life from the time she was born in San Gabriel in 1948, the girl got to Aug. 8, 1969, the date of the Tate killings, when she began to sob.
Asked by Atty. Daye Shinn if she had a conversation with anyone on that day, the girl answered almost inaudibly, “Yes.”
“This whole thing that I’m in this courtroom for, along with Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten and Charlie Manson, and what Bobbie Beausoleil is on death row for…this whole thing started when I killed Gary Hinman because he was going to kill my love. I did it. I’ve tried to tell the truth for so long.
“I went to the grand jury and I lied. I told Mr. Caballero (her former attorney, Richard Caballero) that I lied. But he said, ‘It’s too late, baby.’ I tried to tell the truth, and now you all know.”
The girl, whose voice dropped to a whisper during much of her testimony, at this point broke into sobs, tears streaming down her face. She composed herself briefly and continued, apparently talking directly to the chief prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi.
“Can’t you see it? I couldn’t take anything I couldn’t give.
“Oh, look at it, Mr. Bugliosi. Your whole thing is gone. Your whole motive is gone. It was so silly. So dumb.”
The 22-year-old girl apparently had indicated to her attorney, late Monday night, that she wanted to confess to the murders and “tell the truth,” apparently clearing Manson of any blame in the killings.
Earlier, attorneys disclosed that Linda Kasabian, star prosecution witness in the convictions, is being called back from New Hampshire after testimony that a few days before the slayings she said she planned to kill some “pigs.”
Bugliosi said Mrs, Kasabian, 21, is scheduled to appear next Tuesday at the penalty trial of the four convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy.
The surprise testimony Monday of Catherine “Gypsy” Share, 28, brought objections from both prosecution and defense.
Distraught and sometimes weeping, Miss Share said she had decided to “snitch” because she was afraid of losing custody of her baby.
Bugliosi said he is arranging for Mis. Kasabian’s return at the request of Manson’s attorney, Irving Kanarek. She has been living in Milford, N.H., since her 18 days of testimony last August.
Her Beverly Hills attorney, Gary Fleischman, said he told her by telephone Monday night she was being called as a defense witness.
“Actually, she doesn’t consider herself a witness for either side,” Fleischman said. “She just wants to tell the truth about what happened, and if the defense wants to call her, that’s fine with her.”
Miss Share testified that when she heard about the August 1969 murders she immediately felt that Mrs. Kasabian, Leslie Van Houten and Susan Atkins were the killers.
Tragic-faced “Gypsy” Share told a startled courtroom that Manson had nothing to do with the Tate and LaBianca killings but that the state’s star witness, Mrs. Kasabian, was the mastermind.
Miss Share testified that two of the female defendants, Leslie Van Houten and Susan Atkins, were at the massacre “planning” session with Mrs. Kasabian, who was granted immunity from prosecution for her testimony against the others.
Miss Share, a dropout after attending college for three years, did not implicate the third girl family member convicted in the killings, Miss Krenwinkel. She referred to Miss Krenwinkel as “the best mother I ever had.”
The dramatic testimony, during which Miss Share continually fought for composure, came during cross-examination by Kanarek, the only attorney who seemed pleased by the statements.
Other defense attorneys were angered because her testimony damned their clients, and the prosecution was ired because her testimony tended to clear Manson.
Miss Share’s testimony also surprised courtroom spectators because she brought out a different motive for the murders – one that had been discussed before the trial but was never brought out during the eight-month-long case.
About two weeks before the Aug. 16, 1969, sheriff’s raid on the Spahn Ranch – apparently a week before the Tate-LaBianca murders – the girl said she, Miss Van Houten, Miss Atkins and Mrs. Kasabian were sitting on a couch in front of the boardwalk of the Spahn Movie Ranch.
“Linda asked me to go out and do some killings,” the girl said. “It’s hardly describable. Everything had gotten out of hand. The only thing on my mind was to go away, so I told her I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. I didn’t want to know about it. I just wanted to go away. I just walked off and kept on walking, I went into the hills and sat on a rock and tried to understand.
“I really didn’t have anywhere to go, and I loved everybody at the Ranch. I stayed there (in the mountains) a long time – a couple of weeks – and when I came back to the ranch, she (Mrs. Kasabian) was gone.”
Motive for the murders, the girl said, centered around the killing of Hinman and the arrest of family member Beausoleil for the crime. (He has subsequently been convicted and sentenced to die in San Quentin’s gas chamber.
“Linda told me that she was partly involved with getting Bobby into that situation and she’d try to find a way for getting him out of it.”
Although stopped several times from continuing by objections from both defense and prosecution attorneys, the girl told Superior Court Judge Charles Older that it was “hard to talk about this without talking about Gary (Hinman) because that’s what started the whole thing.”
(Motive offered by Bugliosi was that Manson wanted to start a black-white race war, labeled Helter Skelter, by killing whites and putting the blame on blacks. Another motive, apparently rejected by Bugliosi, was that the Tate-LaBianca killings were “copycat” killings of the Hinman murder which would lead police to release Beausoleil, thinking that the real murderers were still at large.
“Political Piggy” was written in blood on the walls of the Hinman home; “Pig” and “Death to Pigs” were written, also in blood, at the Tate and LaBianca homes.)
By MARY NEISWENDER