• Tate Case Defendant Labeled State Witness

Tate Case Defendant Labeled State Witness

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 19 – A Los Angeles attorney retained to defend one of six persons accused of the murder of grocery chain executive Leno LaBianca and his wife said Wednesday he views another defendant in the case as a witness for the prosecution — not as a defendant.

The attorney, Ira K. Reiner, became the defense counsel two weeks ago for Leslie Van Houten, 19, of Monrovia, an alleged former member of Charles Manson’s hippie family, who is charged in the murder of the LaBiancas last Aug. 10.

Manson and four others are accused both in the killing of the LaBiancas and with the slaying of actress Sharon Tate and four friends at Miss Tate’s Benedict Canyon home the night before the grocer and his wife were slain.

Reiner said he views Susan Denise Atkins, 21, a defendant, as a witness and declared “in no way” would he represent her.

The attorney said he had received a letter from Patricia Krenwinkel, 22, a member of the hippie group also accused in the multiple killings, stating she was not represented by any attorney and desired to retain Reiner as her defense counsel.

He said Miss Krenwinkel indicated she expected to arrive in Los Angeles today from Mobile. Ala., and wished to consult with Reiner as soon as possible after she reaches the city.

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