How Could You? Linda Gasps at Manson Clan
Friday, August 7th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 7 – “Oh God…How could You do that?'”
Sobbing, and her face contorted in horror, Linda Kasabian today gasped out the question to hippie leader Charles Manson and three of his girl followers as she viewed “nightmarish” pictures of bodies at the home of actress Sharon Tate in her Benedict Canyon home a year ago today.
Testifying for the 10th straight day in the Los Angeles Superior Court murder trial, the former member of Manson’s “family” broke down again as she had each time she discussed or saw pictures of the massacre murder scene at the Tate home.
Despite her tears, defense attorney Irving Kanarek continued his questioning.
“Why are you crying, Mrs. Kasabian?”
“I’m crying because I just can’t believe it. I can’t believe that they’d do it.”
Asked if she had not participated in the murders themselves, she shouted into the microphone: “I know I didn’t.
“I know it’s not in me to do such an animalistic thing. I just know I didn’t do it, Mr. Kanarek.”
First shown a picture of coffee heiress Abigail Folger’s body on the lawn of the Tate home, the girl glanced at it briefly and looked away. When she was shown a picture of victim Voityck Frykowski, she broke down completely.
She testified she had started running to the house when she heard the screams.
“I stopped short because I heard a man at the door. He stood at a post for a minute, then he fell in the bushes.
“I knew for sure what was happening at that point,” she said, fighting back tears. “I just said, ‘Oh God. I’m so sorry.’ I was praying to God. Everything just stood still. I just couldn’t do anything.”
The mother 22-year-old mother of two said that when she first heard screams coming from the house she “had a feeling” that the screams weren’t from her friends.
“I felt they were killing those people like they killed the guy in the car.” Under questioning she said she didn’t pray for Steven Parent, the 18-year-old youth who had been killed in the driveway of the estate, because “it didn’t seem real.”
She said she ran from the scene, claiming it was the “only thing I could do…I didn’t want to kill anyone.”
She testified she ran down the hill leading from the Tate home and lay on the ground for a few seconds.
“I was thinking trying to get my thoughts together. My first thought was to go to the police and get help.”
She said she had not gone to the police from the time of the murders until her arrest four months later because she was afraid.
“I was pregnant — had my baby with me — I didn’t know how to go about it,” she testified.
“When you found out the police wanted you, then you knew what to do?” Kanarek asked.
“I went to my mother and asked her what to do,” she replied, adding, “I thought if I came forward they would say I was crazy. Like you’re trying to say now.”
Thursday the “nightmarish” picture of Miss Tate, stab wounds all over her body and bathed in blood, brought the Tate-LaBianca murder trial to an abrupt halt and the chief prosecution witness, Mrs. Kasabian, to the edge of hysteria.
Surprise showing of the color, photograph of the eight-months pregnant actress, lying in a river of blood in the living room of her home, came at the close of Mrs. Kasabian’s ninth, day on the witness stand.
The pale-faced former member of Manson’s family, whose testimony could send the hippie leader and three of his girls to the gas chamber, half gasped and half moaned a long “Oh!” as she turned her eyes and her head away from the photo.
She pushed the microphone away from her face, bursting into muffled sobs and refused to turn her head back to look at either the picture or Kanarek who continued to hold the picture in front of her.
Mrs. Kasabian, had just answered “yes” to Kanarek’s question of whether she had looked through the window of the Tate house as she scouted for open windows or doors. Her surveillance, had preceded the actual entry of the home.
At this point the burly attorney shoved the picture in front of her face.
“Now, Mrs. Kasabian, I ask…” but he could not finish his question as the girl almost collapsed in the chair, and prosecutors and her own attorneys rose to shout objections and rush to her aid.
The picture was described by prosecutors as “nightmarish” but not the most grotesque expected to be introduced into evidence during the trial. Another photograph defense attorneys are expected to submit for her to see — include what has been described as “the most gruesome” — that of market owner Leno LaBianca, a barbecue fork protruding from his stomach and a butcher knife in his throat.
Earlier, during direct examination by Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi, the girl had been shown a picture of the body of Parent, the casual visitor to the Tate home. She glanced at the picture of the youth, slumped over the wheel of his car only briefly, pushed it away, saying: “I don’t have to look at it, it’s imprinted on my mind.”
The attorney had been questioning her about the actual murders at the Tate home — something he had studiously avoided during the first three days of his cross-examination. She began to show signs of stress when he questioned her about seeing Frykowski, the Polish playboy friend of Miss Tate’s husband Roman Polanski.
“You saw a man standing at the door injured?” Kanarek asked.
“And he was bleeding?”
“Did you render any first aid?”
“No, I did not,” she answered, tears beginning to form in her eyes.
“And, Mrs. Kasabian, why didn’t you?” the attorney pushed.
“I don’t know — I guess I was in shock.”
Then as the attorney continued to question how far she was standing from the dying Frykowski, how much of him she saw and it she spoke to him, she began to cry.
“I’m telling you,” she almost shouted, “I don’t know…I know I didn’t speak to him.”
Earlier, under direct examination, she said she and Frykowski’s eyes had met briefly and she had said, “Oh my God. I’m so sorry. Please make it stop.”
Court was recessed after the picture incident when the girl shook her head as Judge Charles Older asked if she could continue. She was taken into an adjacent room by deputies, where, her attorneys later said, cold compresses were applied to her head.
The cross-examination will be preceded by a motion by defense attorney Paul Fitzgerald that the sheriff’s office release all “statements and confessions” reportedly made by a prisoner. The prisoner, Fitzgerald contends, confessed to the Tate-LaBianca murders to a cellmate, and the information is being withheld from defense attorneys. Prosecutors claim all similar “confession-leads” had been checked out by investigators and dismissed as frauds.
Mrs. Kasabian, whose composure has broken only when she talks of the killings themselves, still must undergo cross-examination by a fourth defense attorney, Ronald Hughes. The prosecution also indicated it would return her to the stand for rebuttal.
By MARY NEISWENDER