Susan Atkins Ailing; May Delay Trial
Saturday, August 29th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 29 – Following an hour of lurid testimony regarding the death of Rosemary LaBianca, the massacre murder trial against Charles Manson and three of his girl “followers” was recessed Friday because of the illness of one of the defendants.
Susan Atkins, one of the defendants, complained of pains in her stomach and back, causing an almost two-hour delay in the start of the murder trial Friday morning.
After the lunch break, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles Older recessed the trial until Monday morning, telling jurors arrangements had been made for a medical examination of Miss Atkins later Friday.
Possibility that Atkins’ illness is a recurrence of an ovarian cyst was voiced by her attorney, Daye Shinn, following the recess. If true, Shinn said, it could delay the trial from two weeks to one month and require his client to undergo an operation.
The girl, looking pale and with her head resting on the counsel table, sat through almost an hour of testimony, however, from Dr. David M. Katsuyma, a deputy county coroner who detailed the wounds suffered by Mrs. LaBianca — one of seven persons Miss Atkins is charged with killing.
Dr. Katsuyma said Mrs. LaBianca sustained 41 stab wounds, eight of which were fatal. Fourteen of the wounds, he said, were inflicted as she was dying or after she was dead.
Cause of death was from “multiple stab wounds in the neck and trunk, causing massive hemorrhage,” he said.
Seven of the fatal wounds were in the upper back, penetrating her lungs, stomach, spleen and diaphragm and partially severing her spinal cord, he said.
Another fatal wound in her chest, also penetrated the lungs.
All the stab wounds, said Katsuyma, were caused by “some type of a knife which was sharp, pointed, quite strong and doubleedged.”
“Smaller wounds on the lower part of her back — on her hips — were inflicted after death or while she was dying,” he said.
“There was no sexual molestation or mutilation if you don’t call those small stab wounds on her buttocks mutilation.”
The doctor said he found 14 stab wounds in her lower back, 22 in her upper back, four in her chest and one in her right lower jaw. He said he also found abrasions on her back.
Police department blood expert M. Joseph Granado, who testified Wednesday regarding the blood found at the Tate home, resumed the stand Friday to detail the blood findings at the LaBianca home.
Miss Atkins’ illness, however, prevented the testimony.
By MARY NEISWENDER