Tate Witness Tells of Manson Threats
Tuesday, September 29th, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 29 – Although hippie leader Charles Manson admitted he was responsible for the gruesome Tate-LaBianca killings, a former Manson “family” member said today he didn’t believe him until two months later and then “got scared.”
Under cross-examination in Los Angeles Superior Court, curly haired cowhand Juan Flynn testified he started carrying a gun when he realized that his life was in danger. Flynn had testified earlier that Manson told him he was “the one doing all those killings” two days after the killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others.
Flynn today quoted Manson as also saying, “Are you going to come with me or am I gonna have to kill you,” as the cult leader held a knife to Flynn’s throat.”
“I didn’t want to believe him, at first,” Flynn said, slumping his 6-foot, 5-inch frame in the witness chair, “but I believed it two months later when we were in the desert. Then I got scared.”
He said he stayed at the Barker and Myers ranches in Inyo County with the Manson “family” for more than a month, but started carrying a “big shotgun” as soon as he got to the desert. He said he didn’t leave the family sooner because he “liked the place.”
“There was a lot of physical activity. There were a lot of places to walk to, mountains to climb — just a lot of physical stuff. It was nice.”
He said when he didn’t have the shotgun at his side, he carried a big stick, but he counted mostly on his physical prowess.
Flynn, who has admitted knowing the Manson “family” since they first arrived at the Spahn Ranch in Chatsworth in early 1968, smiled and attempted to converse with Manson and the three girl defendants, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Susan Atkins, during brief conferences between attorneys and Judge Charles Older.
Obviously enjoying himself, the Panamanian-born Flynn has been on stand for two days.
When cross-examination began Monday, Flynn admitted that although he didn’t agree with everything Mansan did, “he has a right to do whatever he does.”
He admitted also that he became aware that his life was in danger because of a “feeling in the air.”
“I became aware and precautious because of what Manson said,” the witness said. ‘”If I didn’t go along with him, he said I’d be hanging on a tree and everyone would come and stick knives in me.
“But I liked it there,” he said with a smile, “even though every time I walked around the corner, the subject of all the conversations was how many ways they could do me in.
“I finally just walked away…I went back to the Spahn Ranch.”
Arraignment of Charles “Tex” Watson, fifth defendant who is due for a separate trial in the killings, was rescheduled Monday tor Oct. 8 after he stood mute throughout an appearance before Judge George Dell.
The judge ordered the new arraignment date after noting Watson’s silence for the court record and describing the defendant’s failure to respond as “some sort of game on Mr. Watson’s part which he can play if he desires.” The judge named the public defender’s office to represent Watson.
By MARY NEISWENDER