Linda Kasabian Testifies Manson Ordered Her to Kill Actor
Friday, July 31st, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Jul. 31 – Cross examination of star prosecution witness Linda Kasabian got under way yesterday after the young woman testified Charles Manson gave her direct orders to kill an actor who lived in Venice.
It was the first time in the seven-week-old trial of the cult chieftain and three female followers that anyone had testified that Manson actually ordered anyone to commit murder.
The 35-year-old Manson has been accused of masterminding the August 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others.
His three “girls” — Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, both 22, and Leslie Louise Van Houten 19 — also are accused in the Aug. 9 and 10 slayings.
Mrs. Kasabian, the 21-year-old mother of two, said Manson gave the orders to kill the actor, Saladin Nader, in the early morning hours of Aug. 10.
It was about the same time that market owner Leno La Bianca and his wife were being stabbed to death at their Los Feliz district home.
The demure blonde witness, however, said she averted the actor’s murder when she intentionally knocked on a wrong apartment door at the building in Venice where the man lived.
The end of Mrs. Kasabian’s testimony for the prosecution also included her story of how she “escaped” from the Spahn Movie Ranch near Chatsworth, stronghold of Manson’s “family” of nomads.
She had lived at the ranch about a month and said she finally made good her escape about two days after the murders.
Mrs. Kasabian said she left her daughter Tanya, then about a year and a half old, at the ranch and later hired a lawyer, Gary Fleischman, to get the child back.
Fleischman still represents Mrs. Kasabian, who has been promised immunity from prosecution for her testimony.
The young woman said after leaving the ranch, in a car she took from a ranch hand, she drove to New Mexico in search of her estranged husband Robert.
She said she found him at a commune in New Mexico and told him about the murders. She said she also told a man named Joe Sage and his friend, another man named “Jeffery,” about the killings and that Manson was involved in them.
This would mean that less than a week after Miss Tate and the others were killed, there were three persons who knew of the murders — outside of the actual killers — and who said nothing to authorities, unless any reports they made were kept secret by investigators.
Mrs. Kasabian said Sage, who owns a Zen Buddhist retreat in Taos, N.M., called the Spahn ranch and talked to Manson.
She said Sage, who gave her money to fly to Los Angeles and pay an attorney to retrieve her daughter, said Manson told him:
“…That I was flipped out and my ego wasn’t ready to die and I ran away.”
Mrs. Kasabian said although she came back to Los Angeles to get her daughter, she never went back to the Spahn ranch.
She called once, however, she testified, and Miss Krenwinkel told her, “You just couldn’t wait to open your big mouth, could you?”
Mrs. Kasabian said after she got her daughter, she went to Miami to visit her father.
“I tried to forget about all these things…but I couldn’t,” she said.
The young woman testified she never told authorities about the killings because, “I was too much afraid, I was too much pregnant…I had this thing in my head…you don’t go to the police.”
Mrs. Kasabian was about a month pregnant when she first went to the Spahn ranch. She gave birth to her son in jail last March.
She surrendered herself to authorities in New Hampshire, where she had gone to her mother’s home, last December and waived extradition to return to Los Angeles.
The bulk of Mrs. Kasabian’s cross-examination in the afternoon by Paul J. Fitzgerald, Miss Krenwinkel’s attorney, was about drugs, “witches,” sex and her life at the Spahn ranch.
She admitted taking the hallucinogenic drug LSD “approximately 50 times,” adding she also had taken other drugs, including peyote, derived from cactus; psilocybin, derived from mushrooms, and methedrine, also known as “speed.”
Mrs. Kasabian said that while on “acid trips,’ or experiences under the influence of LSD, she had vivid hallucinations involving colors, patterns, movement and music.
“My sole purpose for taking it was for…God realization,” she said, but “I realized that you don’t have to take peyote or LSD to discover God.”
Mrs. Kasabian calmly testified that she at times believed “I could see God through acid..the acid told me it was God.”
She quickly added, however, this was a false belief on her part. “The acid is just a state that it takes you to,” she said.
The witness also testified that LSD “showed me parts of myself…It has altered (my personality).”
The young woman said that when she went to the Spahn Ranch and became a member of Manson’s family, she had been “hurt” by her husband, who “rejected” her.
She said she was “impressionable” and would be easily swayed by other persons’ arguments.
Yesterday, however, “I sure am (different),” the witness testified. “I’ve come to a lot of con-clusions about reality — about right and wrong.”
She said she took LSD only once while at the ranch and it was given to her by Miss Atkins.
“Was it a bad trip?” asked Fitzgerald.
“I wanted to leave the ranch. I don’t know if it was a bad trip,” she replied.
Fitzgerald also ques-tioned Mrs. Kasabian about her calling herself “Yana the witch.”
She said she had, point-ing out when she first went to the ranch, “I was made to feel I was a witch.
“I think I tried to make myself believe I was a witch…(but) I was a good witch,” she added, smiling.
Mrs. Kasabian also said she assumed the name “Yana,” because all, or most, of the persons in the “family” were known by different names.
But she denied any claims to supersensory powers or attempts to practice witchcraft.
“I don’t even know what witchcraft is,” she said, “I know no rituals.”
Mrs. Kasabian testified she was made to feel at home at the ranch from the first day — July 4, 1969.
She said several “family” members hugged her and they “gazed” into one another’s eyes.
The witness testified she was told, “What’s ours is yours and what’s yours is ours, and I accepted it, and it was beautiful.
“They were just pure, loving people,” she added. Fitzgerald also questioned her about an incident involving about two dozen persons which co-prosecutor Vincent T. Bugliosi earlier in the week referred to as a “sexual orgy.”
Mrs Kasabian has been on the witness stand since last Monday afternoon and will resume testifying under cross-examination from Fitzgerald when court resumes this morning.
Only once has she broken down on the witness stand. That was last Tuesday, when she sobbingly described the murders of an El Monte teenager, Steven Parent, and Polish playboy Voityck Frykowsky, both killed in the early morning hours of Aug. 9 at Miss Tate’s Benedict Canyon home.
Others killed then were Miss Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger and men’s hairstylist Jay Sebring.
She said she did not see them killed, although she watched Miss Krenwinkel chase Miss Folger across the lawn with a knife.
The witness also said she did not see the killing of the La Biancas.
Her testimony, however, included the claim that Manson had gone into the La Bianca home and tied the middle-aged couple up before the murders.
She said Manson was not at the Tate estate.
A quiet walk on the beach followed Manson’s orders to kill the La Biancas, Mrs. Kasabian said.
She said Manson, who left three of his followers at the home of the market owner, then took her and two other members of his cult to the beach for a walk in the sand.
“Charley and I started walking hand-in-hand on the beach,” said the pig-tailed blonde witness. “I gave him some peanuts. He just sort of made me forget about everything…he made me feel good.”
Mrs. Kasabian said she did not know the area where they drove, but presumably it was in the South Bay because she said they passed oil fields on the way there.
This moment of solitude came during the early-morning hours of Aug. 10, apparently about the same time the La Biancas were being stabbed to death in their home.
Mrs. Kasabian said that before they drove to the beach, Manson bought milkshakes for himself, her, Miss Atkins and another cult member, Clem Tufts, also known as Steve Grogan. Grogan has not been indicted.
She said Miss Atkins and the other man were not with them when she and Manson walked down the beach. A police car stopped. and two officers asked them why they were on the beach, she added.
She said Manson told the policemen they were just walking and then asked, “Don’t you know who I am?” She said the officers said no, but it appeared as if Manson knew them.
Manson at one time reportedly lived briefly in the South Bay area.
By SANDI METTETAL