‘I Thought I Was a Witch at Time Of Killing:’ Linda
Tuesday, August 11th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 11 – Linda Kasabian, the girl whose testimony could send hippie leader Charles Manson and three of his “followers” to the gas chamber, today admitted that she thought she was a “witch” during the Tate-LaBianca killings.
The 22-year-old mother of two, under cross-examination for the seventh consecutive day and on the stand for more than two weeks, admitted telling a hitchhiker she picked up as she fled from the Manson’s “family” ranch in Chatsworth that she was a “witch.”
“I was told I was a witch,” she testified under cross-examination by Manson’s attorney, Irving Kanarek, “so I believed I was.”
She said she learned of the deaths of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, killed the night after the
five slayings at the home of actress Sharon Tate, from a newspaper story while she was in Miami a month later.
She admitted she didn’t know how she knew, the LaBiancas had been the ones killed on the second night of the murderous foray. She has repeatedly denied being in the LaBianca home.
Shown a photograph of Rosemary LaBianca, her hands tied with a leather thong and 41 stab wounds in her back, she gasped and turned her head away.
Bickering between attorneys began early as Deputy Dist. Atty. Vincent Bugliosi objected to the way Kanarek was marking the pictures he showed to Mrs. Kasabian.
Kanarek shouted, “Mr. Bugliosi is less than nitpicking.”
The shouting continued until Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Older ended it with “that’ll be enough.”
Monday, the “united front” presented by defense attorneys shattered as the chief defense counsel objected violently to Kanarek’s cross-examination of Mrs. Kasabian.
At the same time Manson, also obviously tired by the prolonged, repetitious questioning, tried to fire his attorney, complaining that the judge had “locked me into this guy.”
One of the defense attorneys labeled Kanarek — “as good for our side as a third prosecutor.”
As Kanarek continued to show Mrs. Kasabian pictures of the bloody victims at the home of actress Sharon Tate and take her again over her actions the night of the murders, Manson’s voice boomed through the courtroom.
“Your honor, I’d like to object to this attorney.”
Manson’s objections had followed several by chief defense counsel Paul Fitzgerald, all of which had been sustained by Judge Older.
Older, however, did not sustain Manson’s objection.
“Earlier in this trial, I warned you against speaking up, except through your attorney,” the stoney-faced jurist said quickly. “If you continue I have ways to enforce this. Now, I don’t want to hear anymore, sir. You’re disrupting this trial.”
Manson, however, got in the last word:
“Meanwhile, you’ve got me locked into this guy.”
Kanarek, appearing unconcerned with his client’s outburst, continued the cross-examination of the witness, getting her to admit again that she took no actions when she saw Voityck Frykowski, the Polish playboy friend of Miss Tate’s husband, Roman Polanski, and coffee heiress Abigail Folger being stabbed to death.
“I don’t know (why she didn’t help). There was nothing I could do. I just left,” she answered, keeping her gaze away from, photos of the bodies Kanarek held up to her face.
Kanarek, who got one picture — that of the front of the Tate home — introduced into evidence, met a stumbling block when he allempled to get pictures of Frykowski’s body admitted into evidence so the jury could see it.
Primary objection was from members of his own defense team, and was upheld by Judge Older.
Kanarek also had a run-in with chief prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Aaron Stovitz, who, during a shouting match, charged the Van Nuys attorney with attempting to confuse the witness.
Kanarek shouted that the prosecutor was “trying to clue the witness in to the answers by his objections.”
Defense Attorney Fitzgerald took the prosecution’s side, necessitating a bench conference and apparently a warning to all by Judge Older.
As the cross-examination continued, sporadically halted by objections from both defense and prosecution, Mrs. Kasabian’s reasons for joining Manson’s “family” at the Spahn Ranch were explored.
Denying she went to the ranch to “seek new men,” the girl admitted she told Catherine “Gypsy” Share, a family member, that her husband “didn’t satisfy me sexually.”
However, she said, when asked by Manson why she had come to the ranch, she said she told him “my husband didn’t want me anymore.”
Mrs. Kasabian, who has repeatedly admitted participating in the murders — although not physically killing the victims — was granted immunity earlier Monday, but a legal technicality
has kept her confined to Sybil Brand Institute for Women, where she has been since her arrest in December.
Although the immunity order was signed by Judge Older, the charges against her — that of seven murders and one of conspiracy to commit murder — have not been dismissed by the district attorney’s office.
She can be released from the jail if her own attorney or the district attorney petitions for the dismissal of charges. This, however, is not anticipated until she completes her testimony.
When asked by Kanarek who she believed granted her the immunity, the girl answered:
“I believe it’s the power of God…I feel it’s God’s mercy that’s given me immunity.”
She said initially she felt no gratitude to the prosecutors, but later said she did, indeed, feel grateful to them “because they’ve given me the opportunity to tell the truth.”
On trial with Manson and Miss Krenwinkel are Susan Atkins, 21, and Leslie Van Houten, 20. Miss Van Houten is charged only in the murders of Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.
By MARY NEISWENDER