Tate Suspect Will Be Given Sanity Test
Wednesday, January 7th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 7 – A court-appointed psychiatrist will examine the youngest defendant in the Sharon Tate-LaBianca slayings to determine if she was sane at the time of the crimes and sane now.
The psychiatrist was appointed Tuesday by Superior Court Judge William B. Keene to examine Leslie Louise Van Houten, 19, and make a confidential report to her attorney.
Miss Van Houten, demure and the prettiest of the young women accused of the slayings, also was granted the services of a private investigator at public expense up to $750.
Miss Van Houten and Mrs. Linda Kasabian, 20, appeared in another of the preliminary hearings leading to the trial of the hippie cult led by Charles Manson, 35, which is accused of seven murders.
Keene denied a motion by Mrs. Kasabian’s attorney that she be freed on bail after the seven-months pregnant woman pleaded innocent to murder and conspiracy charges. Her attorney argued that the indictment naming Mrs. Kasabian did not charge her with the actual slaying of any of the victims and pointed out she had surrendered voluntarily in New Hampshire.
Mrs. Kasabian, a tiny young woman, did not change her expression during the one-hour hearing.
By contrast, Miss Van Houten was smiling and almost gay in acknowledging that she agreed with her attorney’s request that she be examined by Dr. Blake Skrdia to try to determine if she was sane at the time of the seven slayings last August.
After Mrs. Kasabian entered her plea, Keene said he would set her trial date Feb. 9, the date he had originally scheduled the trials of Miss Van Houten and Susan Denise Atkins, suspect turned informer in the case.
The judge later said he would set a new trial date for Miss Van Houton on Feb. 9 and also allow Miss Atkins, if she desired, to ask for a continuance of her trial on that date. Keene said it now appeared it would take some time for the case to go to trial.
Sheriff’s deputies, meantime, brought heavy digging equipment to the Spahn Ranch where “The Manson Family” once lived in a search for the body of Donald O’Shea, who disappeared after living with the clan for a time. Deputies said they unsuccessfully attempted to find a cave covered by a landslide which reportedly contained the former stunt actor’s body. The search ended at sundown and deputies said it would not continue.