Prosecution Feels Witness Tells Truth in Tate Case
Saturday, August 8th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 8 – During seven days of cross-examination, defense attorney Irving Kanarek has constantly hammered the veracity of Linda Kasabian’s story of the Tate-LaBianca murders.
But during a break in Friday’s session, Assistant District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi said he was convinced of the truth of the 21-year-old blonde’s statements. He said her testimony tallied exactly with a statement given and later retracted by defendant Susan Atkins.
“I listened to the account of both girls, and Miss Atkins has recanted her story and said it isn’t true. But it turns out that Linda Kasabian tells exactly the same story. How in the world can these two girls have invented exactly the same story?” he said.
Most of the afternoon session was devoted to legal maneuvering in the chambers of Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older and, at the end of the day, the prosecution agreed to a defense request that it formally petition the court next week to grant Mrs. Kasabian immunity from prosecution for her testimony.
The defense maintained that Mrs. Kasabian’s testimony might be “tainted” in favor of the prosecution so long as she was liable to prosecution for the murders.
Bugliosi said he was satisfied she was telling the truth and would continue to do so. He said the state was agreeable to granting her immunity now, on the condition that she continue to testify in the case and in arty follow-up matters.
During the morning session, Kanarek continued to deluge Mrs. Kasabian with color photographs, taken by police, of the victims of the massacre at the Tate estate.
She burst into tears when Kanarek showed her a color picture of the body of Voityck Frykowski, who was stabbed more than 60 times and shot during the rampage last Aug. 8.
She gasped “Oh, God,” then turned to stare at the four defendants — Miss Atkins, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkle and the man accused of masterminding the slayings, Charles Manson — and silently mouthed “How could you do that?”
The four sat impassively and did not reply.
“Why are you crying now?” asked Kanarek.
“I just can’t believe it,” she replied.
“You can’t believe what?”
“I can’t believe they could do such a thing.”
“Are you sure you don’t mean that you couldn’t do such a thing?”
“I know I didn’t do it. I didn’t have it in me to do such an animalistic thing.”
When Kanarek suggested that she ran into the house with a knife but could not remember it because she was in a state of shock at the time, Mrs. Kasabian shouted at him:
“I just know I didn’t do it, Mr. Kanarek.”
Kanarek asked Mrs.Kasabian why she refused to discuss the slayings with him outside the courtroom.
“Because I don’t trust you,” she snapped.
“You think I’m dishonest?”
She also said she didn’t trust any of the defense attorneys and thought they all were dishonest.
Friday’s session also saw the first change in the jury when retired night watchman Walter Vitzelio complained of stomach trouble and was excused. He was replaced on the regular panel by Larry D. Seely, who was selected by lot from the six alternates.
Also during Friday’s session, the prosecution acquiesced to a defense request to put out a pick-up order for Harvard student James Breckinridge, who reportedly hitchhiked a ride in Mrs. Kasabian’s automobile on the way from Los Angeles to Taos, N.M., a few days after the slayings. He was seen in the courtroom during the morning session and talked with Mrs. Kasabian’s attorneys briefly during the lunch hour. He reportedly left for Dallas, Tex.
Breckinridge had told a Long Beach newspaper that Mrs. Kasabian was in a “state of excitement” during the trip, but he said she did not appear to be fearful.
The defense apparently considered him an important witness and asked the prosecution to help locate him.
By JACK V. FOX