Enter Evidence Linking Manson to Tate Murder Gun
Friday, September 11th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 11 – Evidence linking Charles Manson to the Tate-La Bianca murder gun was introduced yesterday at the cult chief’s trial.
The evidence came from prosecution witness Thomas Walleman, a bearded, long-haired man in his late 20s who said he lived at the Spahn Ranch near Chatsworth the month before actress Sharon Tate and six others were killed last year.
The Spahn Ranch was the stronghold for Manson’s so-called “family” of nomads at the time of the August 1969 murders.
Walleman testified he saw Manson with a .22-caliber revolver, which he said was similar to the weapon the prosecution has alleged was used to shoot three of the seven victims.
The witness, wearing blue jeans, moccasins and a blue and white “tie-dyed” shirt, said Manson took the revolver with him on a trip to a Hollywood apartment early in July 1969.
Walleman said the late night visit to the Franklin Ave. apartment came after someone telephoned the Spahn Ranch and talked to both him and the 35-year-oId Manson.
Manson, he testified, “said that there was a guy that was going to come over and do the ranch in.”
Walleman explained Manson had said the caller claimed there was a “girl” living at the ranch who “stole some money and he was going to do the whole ranch in.”
The witness testified Manson got a .22-caIibre revolver and he and the cult chief got into a car and drove to the Hollywood apartment.
When they arrived, Walleman said he put the revolver in his belt, but Manson asked for it and he gave him the weapon.
Prosecutor Vincent T. Bugliosi showed Walleman a .22-caliber longhorn revolver, also known as a “Buntline Special,” and asked him if that was the weapon he gave Manson.
“It looks like it,” the witness replied, but added he was not sure.
The prosecution has claimed the revolver was used to shoot 18-year-old Steven Parent, 37-year-old Voityck Frykowsky and 35-year-old Jay Sebring, all killed at the Benedict Canyon home of actress Sharon Tate.
Miss Tate and coffee heiress Abigail Folger, both 26, also were killed, but didn’t die of gunshot wounds.
The rest of the victims, including market, owner Leno LaBianca and his wife, were stabbed to death.
Police ballistics experts have been unable to positively match the bullets found in Parent and Frykowsky with the alleged murder weapon.
They have testified, however, that the bullet found in Sebring, a well known hair stylist, matched sings fired from the revolvers.
Walleman never testified what happened in the apartment, in fact, no one — including Bugliosi — even asked.
Newsmen covering the trial attempted to elicit the story of what happened in the apartment from Walleman after he finished testifying.
He said nothing, however, except that he was “seven million years old” and “I can’t make him (Manson) out a bad man.”
Walleman, who said he didn’t do “much of anything” but was an optical technician by trade, testified he had lived at the Spahn Ranch on and off for about four years.
He came to the courtroom with two members of Manson’s “family,” both young women.
Earlier, firearms expert Edward C. Lomax testified that pieces of a walnut hand grip found in the hallway and living room of Miss Tate’s home after the murders matched the left grip on the alleged murder weapon.
The right grip of the revolver is missing and the prosecution has alleged it was broken when the killers beat Frykowsky over the head with the gun butt.
Lomax for several vears worked for Hi-Standard Firearms Co., which was the sole manufacturer of the Longhorn revolver. He also testified before the County Grand Jury which indicted Manson and other “family” members last December.
The witness said the walnut grip on the revolver was only manufactured for that make of weapon.
He fitted together the three pieces of broken grip and said they appeared “similar” to the intact left grip.
Lomax also testified the weapon, patterned after the gun Ned Buntline made for one-time Dodge City, Kan., Marshal Wyatt Earp, was “rather unique” because of its 9 ½ inch barrel.
He said about 2700 have been sold in the past 10 to 12 years they have been manufactured by Hi-Standard.
On trial with Manson are three female followers — Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, both 22, and Leslie Van Houten 20.
The young women were excited and all smiles when Walleman walked into to testify and all waved at him.
The morning session of the trial, held outside the presence of the seven-man, five-woman jury, resembled a scene right out of the accounts of fictional attorney Perry Mason when the defense called Bugliosi as a witness at an evidentiary hearing.
The defense is trying to suppress introduction of .22-caliber shells found at the ranch on grounds they were unlawfully seized.
Trial Judge Charles H. Older was expected to rule on the matter next Thursday.
The shells were taken by police officers during two visits to the ranch, once last Nov. 19 and once April 15.
Officer testified each time they searched the ranch, they were given permission by 83-year-old blind owner George Spahn, who lives there.
The defense claims Spahn gave his permission because he was not told he had the alternative of refusing to allow the police to search the ranch.
Bugliosi was called to the witness stand by Irving A. Kanarek, attorney for the 35-year-old Manson.
“Go easy on me now, Irving,” quipped the prosecutor as he sat down in the witness box.
Bugliosi admitted under questioning by Kanarek that he did not seek a search warrant before going to the ranch because he did not feel it was necessary.
“I believe…that this man did not obtain a search warrant…in order to prevent the law of consent…so he could go willy nilly on the ranch,” Kanarek told Judge Older.
The questioning of Bugliosi by Kanarek was odd in another respect because both men have been at each other’s throats since the trial began 13 weeks ago.
Their tempers remained calm, however, during Bugliosi’s brief stint as a defense witness.
The hearing, which was to have been brief, was drawn out until the afternoon session, at which time Judge Older was expected to make his ruling.
The judge finally postponed ruling on the matter until next Thursday to give Sgt. Calkins a chance to find a tape recording of the discussion with Spahn.
Sgt. Calkins testified earlier that he had recorded Spahn when the ranch owner gave his consent for the search.
The morning session of the trial got under way about 45 minutes late due to a closed-door conference among the attorneys and the judge.
The jury was led out of the courtroom after Judge Older introduced two new prosecutors, Dep. Dist. Attys. Donald A. Musich and Stephen R. Kay.
Musich and Kay replaced former chief prosecutor Aaron H. Stovitz, who was pulled off the case last Friday by Dist. Atty. Evelle J. Younger.
Younger claimed Stovitz was taken off the trial because he was needed in his administrative position as chief of the trials division for the district attorney’s office.
Speculation was, however, Stovitz was taken off the case because of out-of-courtroom comments he made to reporters covering the trial.
Bugliosi and his two new assistants had no comment on the switch, other than they had been working hard during the long holiday, ordered by the judge due to Labor and Admittance Days.
Neither Musich nor Kay had been involved in the case before.
By SANDI METTETAL