“Atkins’ ‘Sickness’ Only An Act”
Thursday, September 3rd, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 3 – Susan Atkins, crying out loud and holding her stomach in apparent severe pain, held up the start of the Tate murder trial for an hour Wednesday but finally took her seat in the courtroom.
The 22-year-old Miss Atkins was leaning heavily on a woman bailiff and tears were streaming down her face as she entered the courtroom with the jury watching her hesitant steps.
Within a few minutes she was taken into the chambers of Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older who previously had received the findings of a medical examination to the effect that she was physically able to continue at the trial along with Charles Manson and two other female defendants.
Miss Atkins complained that she was in pain but decided to go on with the trial after the judge told her the alternative was to lie in a bed in an anteroom and listen to the proceedings via loudspeaker.
Deputy District Attorney Aaron Stovitz indicated that he felt Miss Atkins was overemphasizing her illness which has brought the trial to a virtual standstill since last Friday.
“She’s putting on an act worthy of Sarah Bernhardt,” Stovitz remarked to newsmen.
The first witness as the trial got under way was M. Joseph Granado, a police department blood expert, who was testifying about the findings at the Tate and LaBianca homes.