Susan To Repudiate Tate Death Story
Wednesday, March 11th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 11 – Susan Denise Atkins, Manson clan informer who sang the song of slaughter that broke the Tate-LaBianca mass murder cases to a grand jury, won’t let out a peep during the forthcoming trial.
This reversal of form for the 21-year-old defendant against murder-conspiracy charges was revealed Tuesday by attorney Daye Shinn, who expects to formally become her new lawyer today.
“She will deny all previous statements,” said Shinn, a 53-year-old Los Angeles attorney. He said this would include a repudiation of her grand jury testimony that resulted in indictments against herself, hippie cult leader Charles Manson, and four others.
Miss Atkins filed a motion Tuesday asking a substitution for attorney Richard Caballero, who originally advised her to make a full confession before the grand jury.
Caballero, who filed the notice of substitution in Superior Court at Los Angeles, said he and Miss Atkins disagreed on how the case should be conducted.
The move was not entirely unexpected. Miss Atkins visited with Manson in county jail last week and later indicated she was having second thoughts about repeating her accusations against the man she previously described as being the mastermind of the cult killings.
Superior Court Judge William B. Keene set a hearing on the motion for today.
The judge ordered both Miss Atkins and Manson to appear at the hearing to ascertain if there would be a conflict of interest in Shinn’s representation of the girl. Shinn has filed legal motions for Manson and visited with him several times a week during the two months Manson acted as his own attorney.
Shinn told newsmen he talked briefly with Miss Atkins and she wanted him as her attorney because he was “close to the family.”
He said he would be “ready to go to trial March 30,” the date set for a joint trial for Miss Atkins, Manson and three others.
Shinn said he was confident the change will be accepted and asserted there was no conflict of interest in his advising both Miss Atkins and Manson.
“There is no conflict because there will be a common defense,” he said.
Court observers predicted, however, that there will be defense requests for a postponement of the March 30 trial date because of the court’s appointment of Pasadena attorney Charles Hollopeter — over Manson’s objections — to represent the 35-year-old cult leader.
Judge Keene appointed Hollopeter Friday after ruling Manson was incapable of handling his own defense.
Hollopeter said after his first meeting with Manson he would plead his client innocent, and added: “He didn’t do it…that’s the position.”
Both Shinn and Caballero are scheduled to appear with Miss Atkins today in Santa Monica Superior Court, where she is slated to stand trial on a separate murder charge in the slaying of musician Gary Hinman. Shinn said he would ask to take over the defense and would request a postponement of the trial.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Aaron Stovitz, chief prosecutor in the Tate-LaBianca trial, claimed Tuesday the prosecution is not perturbed by the news that Miss Atkins will not be a prosecution witness.
“Her repudiation will not stand up, because most of what she has said has been corroborated by other witnesses and other evidence,” said Stovitz.
His co-prosecutor, Vincent T. Buglosi, said the request for a substitution of attorneys came as no surprise, adding: “After she talked with Manson, it was only a question of time.”
Two other defendants in the Tate-LaBianca slayings – 20-year-old Linda Kasabian and 22-year-old Patricia Krenwinkel — Tuesday received postponements until March 24 on their motions for a change of venue.
Mrs. Kasabian was unable to appear at the hearing because she gave birth to a baby boy Monday. Miss Krenwinkel’s attorney, deputy defender Paul Fitzgerald, asked for more time to accumulate evidence.
Charles D. (Tex) Watson, the only defendant not in custody in Los Angeles, is fighting extradition from a Texas jail and it may take some time before all his legal moves are exhausted.
Shinn’s indication that Miss Atkins hopes establish a joint defense with Manson and the others in Southland custody caused some observers to believe this joint defense might include an attempt to place all the blame for the slayings on Watson.
By Stan Leppard