Murder Victim’s Picture Shakes Up State Witness
Friday, August 7th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 7 – With a gasping cry of “Ohhh,” Linda Kasabian buried her head in her hands and sobbed after Charles Manson’s attorney thrust in front of her a color picture of actress Sharon Tate in death — her nearly nude, pregnant body bathed in blood.
Court was hastily recessed Thursday after the petite witness was led from the stand weeping.
“She was terribly distraught,” said Ronald Goldman, one of Mrs. Kasabian’s attorneys. “We took her upstairs to lie down and put a cold compress on her head to try to calm her down.”
Irving Kanarek, representing the shaggy-haired clan leader on trial in the slayings of Miss Tate and six others, pulled out the photograph while cross-examining Mrs. Kasabian, the state’s star witness.
Kanarek was asking what Mrs. Kasabian had seen when she looked into a window of Miss Tate’s home.
“I show you…” said Kanarek as he flashed the photo in front of Mrs. Kasabian. He got no further. The witness recoiled, shifting in her chair and turning her head away. Then she broke down.
The picture showed the blonde Miss Tate wearing bikini pants and a bra, lying on the living room floor in front of the couch. The prosecution said the angle of the picture was meant to show her 16 stab wounds.
The photo, part of material the prosecution said it planned to present later, had not been entered in evidence. A prosecutor told newsmen he had not shown the photo to Mrs. Kasabian because “she is a sensitive girl” and there was no reason to do so because the state says she never entered the house where Miss Tate’s body was found.
Attorneys for Mrs. Kasabian, 21-year-old mother of two, protested to the judge. In a conference with defense attorneys and prosecutors in the judge’s chambers, Goldman alleged that Kanarek had no question to ask relating to the picture, but “did it for no other purpose than to cause my client serious distress.”
Goldman said later the judge ruled that in the future, before any exhibit is shown to a witness, the state will be given the chance to object.
Asked later why he took the photo out of a folder to show it to Mrs. Kasabian, Kanarek would say only, “I believe anyone should be able to see a public record.”
Paul Fitzgerald, attorney for defendant Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel, 22, said, “I disagree that Mr. Kanarek’s sole intent was to shock the witness…It may have been that Linda Kasabian’s reaction was a shock of recognition. It may also be that it was a shock of horror or terror. We don’t know which.”
Also on trial with Manson and Miss Krenwinkel are two other women followers of Manson — Susan “Sadie” Atkins, 21, and Leslie Van Houten, 22.
The green-eyed Mrs. Kasabian, once a member of Manson’s clan, has been telling her story of the slayings after being promised immunity from prosecution. She has said she went on murder missions with Manson’s clan but remained outside the death houses the nights of the murders.
Earlier Thursday, Mrs. Kasabian, demure in a red and blue embroidered frock, choked back tears as Kanarek showed her a photo she had seen before. It showed another victim at the Tate residence, Steven Parent, 18, sprawled across the seat of his car, his head bloodied by gunshots.
In his fourth day of cross-examination, Kanarek hammered away at Mrs. Kasabian’s role. At one point the witness declared she feels responsible for the deaths of five persons at the Tate home.
“I don’t know if I felt it then,” she said, “but I feel it now.” She expressed a feeling of remorse as well, saying, “I didn’t know there were other people in the house and I didn’t know that Miss Tate was pregnant, and that really upset me.”
The comments about responsibility were ruled a legal conclusion and were stricken.