Tate Trial Witness ‘Threatened’
Tuesday, November 3rd, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 3 – A key state witness at the Tate murder trial has admitted that police raised the prospect she might face the gas chamber or life in prison if she did not tell them all she knew about the slayings.
Dianne Lake, 17, a tiny girl who spent two years with the “Manson family,” had been summoned Tuesday by the prosecution as their final witness in the 21-week old trial.
Defense attorneys immediately challenged the admissibility of her story and in a session held outside the presense of the jury, brought out claims that she was appearing under duress and out of fear.
Miss Lake first testified that defendant Leslie Van Houten told her of being present at the Leno LaBianca home the night of the slayings there.
“What did Leslie tell you?” asked Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi.
“She said she stabbed someone who was already dead and the more she did it, the more fun it was,” Miss Lake replied.
The girl conceded under cross examination that she was grilled in a tiny room at the women’s jail by Detective Sgt. Manuel Gutierrez. Manson’s attorney, Irving Kanarek, read a transcript of the conversation.
It showed that at one point Gutierrez said; “Somebody is going down the pipe, somebody is going to get the pill in the gas chamber for these murders of which you are a part.”
The transcript also showed that Gutierrez asked the girl if she would like to spend her life in prison and added:
“We’re not interested in you. We’re interested in the big guy and you know who we’re talking about, honey.” Without Miss Lake’s testimony, the state case against Miss Van Houten is relatively weak. Prosecution witness Linda Kasabian has placed Miss Van Houten outside the LaBianca home but has admitted she did not see her enter.
The trial was in recess today for the elections.
If Miss Lake is permitted to testify before the jury Wednesday, she may be on the stand much of the day. The state is expected to rest its case once she has concluded her testimony.