Chance To Deny Tate Crime Allowed To Pass
Thursday, March 12th, 1970
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Mar. 12 – Susan Atkins had the chance Wednesday to disclaim her story about the Tate-La Bianca murders but she let the opportunity pass.
Her new attorney, Daye Shinn, said Tuesday she had repudiated an account of the slayings which implicated her, cult leader Charles Manson and four other Manson “family” members.
But when asked Wednesday whether a copyrighted story appearing under her byline in newspapers around the world last December was a true account of the murders she smiled, tilted her head to one side and replied:
“There are certain things in the story that I didn’t say.”
She declined to say what the “certain things” were.
Shinn also said Tuesday that Miss Atkins had disavowed her sworn grand jury testimony — which parallels her published account — and that she would refuse to testify before a trial jury. She would not confirm or deny either statement Wednesday.
Miss Atkins’ banter with newsmen occurred in Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Laurence J. Rittenband’s courtroom here, where her trial in the murder of musician Gary Hinman was continued until April 23.
Hinman was murdered in his Los Angeles home last July, about two weeks before the murders of actress Sharon Tate, grocery executive Leno La Bianca, his wife, Rosemary, and four others, with which Miss Atkins also is charged. The grand jury testimony and the newspaper story were detailed accounts of how she said the Tate and La Blanca murders were carried out.
The continuance was granted so Shinn could familiarize himself with the Hinman case. He also plans to represent her in the Tate-La Bianca case.
Richard Caballero, Miss Atkins’ lawyer since December, formally stepped aside Wednesday because of what she and he both called a “conflict” over how the defense should be conducted.
Miss Atkins and Manson held an hour-long conference last Thursday, the first meeting since their arrests for the Tate-La Bianca killings.
As a result, said Caballero, he visited Miss Atkins, 21, Friday morning and told her he could no longer represent her unless “she proceeded my way and not Charlie’s way.” He declined to elaborate, but Miss Atkins said:
“It’s not Charlie’s way — It’s my way. I want another lawyer.”
However, she said her request to be represented by Shinn should not be construed as a reflection on Caballero’s abilities. “He’s a good lawyer,” she said, and, as if to underline that remark, she displayed a particularly friendly attitude toward him during Wednesday’s court session.