Motion for Mistrial Denied on ‘Confession’ in Tate Case
Friday, October 9th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 9 – A motion for a mistrial in the Tate-LaBianca murder trial, based on publication of a “confession” of one of the defendants, was denied today in a 2 ½ hour in-chambers secret session.
A motion for severance from the three other defendants in the case and subsequently another motion for a mistrial was expected to be made later today, also based on the admission of the “confession” into evidence.
Defense attorneys, together with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Older and the prosecutors, for the past three days have attempted to censor the “confession” so that it relates only to Susan Atkins, the girl who allegedly “talked” to two cellmates.
However, defense attorneys maintain that because of the prior testimony which linked Miss Atkins with not only the “family” leader Charles Manson but the other two defendants — Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel — the “confession” could not be limited.
The first motion for a mistrial made today was based on the publication of an uncensored statement by Mrs. Virginia Graham, Miss Atkins’ cellmate at Sybil Brand Institute, to investigators. The statement implicated not only Miss Atkins but other members of the “family.” Chief defense counsel Paul Fitzgerald claimed the publication would reach the jury despite the fact that the 17 people are sequestered.
“The story concerns some of the most sensationally famous people in the world,” Fitzgerald told newsmen. “It is so sensational it will leak its way to the jury via headlines, hotel personnel or through conjugal visits with their spouses on weekends. It’s impossible to insulate the jury against this.”
By MARY NEISWENDER