Tension Mounts as Tate Jurors Ponder Verdict
Wednesday, January 20th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 20 – Tension mounted in the Los Angeles Hall of Justice today as the Tate-LaBianca jury began its fifth day of deliberations.
Newsmen from throughout the world crowded around the eighth floor courtroom where the marathon trial of hippie leader Charles Manson and his three girl friends ended last Friday.
Two television remote units were stationed in a parking lot adjacent to the criminal courts building as networks planned live coverage of return of the verdict.
Many newspapers who had withdrawn their reporters from the trial itself reassigned crews to keep vigil on the jury. All news wire services, including Reuters, have covered the case from the beginning, along with newspapers in New York and Chicago.
Representatives from European newspapers, including two London dailies, Italy’s influential La Stampa, German newspapers and news magazines, and a French news magazine wait with American newspaper, radio and television reporters in the crowded corridor.
Meanwhile, the jury today deliberated without any request for additional information.
Three letters in which Susan Atkins “confessed” to participation in the Tate-LaBianca murders were read to the jury Tuesday.
The letters, written by the girl to former cellmates at Sybil Brand Institute, were requested by jury foreman Herman Tubick to be re-read.
Tubick also informed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Older that the jury had figured out some confusing pieces of evidence and there would be no need for the attorneys to catalogue the 297 pieces of prosecution evidence.
In the letters, Miss Atkins, who is a co-defendant with Charles Manson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, wrote to Roni Howard that she “could have slit your throat when I found out you were the informer.
“I blame no one but myself for saying anything to anyone…My attorney is going to plead insanity and I’m not going to fight it…I did not admit to being in the second house (the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca) because I wasn’t in the second house.”
In a letter written to Jo Stephenson, the girl told of being indicted for seven counts of murder and one of conspiracy “because of opening my big mouth to a cellmate.”
In the third letter, to Kit Fletcher of Long Beach, she questioned; ” – Why did I do it, or why did I open my mouth to a cellmate? To each of these questions, I did what I did because that is what I did.”
By MARY NEISWENDER