Younger Called To Stand in Manson Trial, Tells Of Deal For Susan Atkins Confession
Thursday, March 11th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 11 — The state’s attorney general and former district attorney for the County of Los Angeles today took the witness stand in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial and admitted to, among other things, a “hazy” memory.
Evelle J. Younger, who look the state office less than three months ago, was called by the defense in the marathon murder case to clarify details of a “deal” made between Susan Atkins, one of the three Manson girls convicted of murder, and the district attorney’s office.
He was also questioned and was also vague on his actions regarding the publication of Miss Atkins’ “confession” in the Los Angeles Times and a subsequent book about the killings published by a Times subsidiary.
Younger said he recalled agreeing not to seek the death penalty for Miss Atkins if she testified truthfully before the grand jury.
“I said the district attorney’s office would decide if she told the truth, and they (Miss Atkins’ attorneys, Richard Caballero and Paul Caruso) would have to abide by the integrity of the district attorney’s office,” the state official said.
Asked why he later reneged on the deal, Younger answered: “Somebody told me at some time that she was not telling the truth, or otherwise I wouldn’t have allowed them to seek the death penalty.”
He said he couldn’t remember when or where or who was involved in the decision. He admitted he did not read the entire grand jury transcript, did not hear tapes of Miss Atkins’ statements nor did he read any of the questions and answers given by the girl to his deputies preceding the grand jury session.
Questioned by chief defense counsel Paul Fitzgerald about his part in the publication of Miss Atkins’ “confession,” Younger said he did not even read the story in the newspaper and said he didn’t “believe I’ve even seen the book.”
(Following the newspaper article, the book, “The Killing of Sharon Tate,” was rushed into print. Both the newspaper article and the book, defense attorneys claim, have deprived them of a chance for a fair trial since few people have admitted not reading one or the other.)
Younger said he didn’t think he contacted attorneys for Miss Atkins after hearing of the published confession, adding that the story “neither shocked nor surprised me.”
Asked whether he attempted to find out the source of the story, Younger said he did not and “doubts” if he made any inquiries about the story.
“I can’t conceive of any reason of why I would have done so,” the attorney general said when asked if he even called the newspaper.
After being reminded that letters had been placed into evidence which linked him in some degree with the manuscript of the book, Younger said he “recalls a conversation with somebody from the Times regarding some manuscript.”
One of the letters in evidence is from the book editor of ‘the Times which refers to a previous conversation with Younger in which the county’s then district attorney agreed to review a manuscript because of “civil liberties and ethical-judicial problems” involved.
Younger, however, explained that he never read the manuscript because it was lengthy and a two-day deadline was involved.
He said he used a “poor” word when he wrote to Judge Charles Older and in a subsequent press conference when he said he had never “read or discussed” the manuscript with anyone.
Younger said he has studiously avoided reading or listening to publicity about the case.
Wednesday, a psychiatrist testified in the Los Angeles Superior Court trial that the three girls convicted of the Tate-LaBianca murders are mentally ill and without medical treatment will probably become worse.
Dr. Joel Hochman told the five-woman seven-man jury, which is to decide whether the girls and their leader Charles Manson live or die for their part in the killings, that the most severely ill is Patricia Krenwinkel, the girl who on successive nights participated in the killings at the home of actress Sharon Tate and that of market owner Leno LaBianca.
“I think that Patricia would be viewed by most psychiatrists as suffering from a definable mental illness — a relatively severe schizoid personality disorder,” the doctor said. He said the absence of emotion when he interviewed the girl in Sybil Brand Institute was the basis for his opinion.
“She can talk about love, but you don’t feel it in her.”
He said the girl would be an extremely difficult, but challenging patient but without treatment will become worse.
The psychiatrist described Miss Atkins, the girl whose confession led to the indictment of five other members of Manson’s clan for the murders, as “self destructive” because of a childhood “deprived of love.”
Hochman said both Miss Atkins and Leslie Van Houten suffer from “hysterical personality disturbances.” But with treatment, he said, they could be rehabilitated.
He said all the girls showed a conscious lack of remorse, however, he added, he did not believe this to be actual.
“Remorse is not in high fashion in their sub-culture — in fact it’s their membership card,” the doctor said
By MARY NEISWENDER