Testimony About Fingerprints Abruptly Halts Manson Trial
Thursday, September 3rd, 1970
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 3 – Fingerprints found at the home of slain actress Sharon Tate today brought the trial of hippie cult leader Charles Manson and three of his girls to an abrupt halt in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Los Angeles Police Department fingerprint expert Jerrome Boen testified he took one print from outside the front door of the actress’ Benedict Canyon home the day the murders were discovered Aug. 9, 1969. Before the officer could testify further, defense attorneys objected, claiming the testimony was irrelevant and immaterial.
The fingerprint is believed to be that of Charles “Tex” Watson, now fighting extradition in Texas. Watson is charged with both the Tate and LaBianca murders along with Manson and three girls — Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkle and Susan Atkins.
After a lengthy bench conference it was expected the testimony about the fingerprint, and a second print, believed to be that of Miss Krenwinkle, would be admitted into evidence.
Boen, the 31st witness in the 12-week old trial, followed police department blood expert M. Joseph Granado to the stand. Granado’s testimony had been interrupted because of the illness of Miss Atkins.
The girl, who had complained of stomach pains for several days, entered court slowly today but spent most of the time with her head resting on her arms at the counsel table.
Wednesday, despite her tears and pleas that she was in pain and “doing everything I can to hold on to my sanity,” Miss Atkins was ordered to stay in court so her trial could proceed.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charles H. Older, following a hearing in which Dr. Margaret McCarren, assistant medical director at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center testified, ruled the 21-year-old accused murderess was “articulate, lucid and apparently perfectly healthy.”
Her ailment had at first been diagnosed as an ovarian cyst. Later the diagnosis was a blockage of the Colon, but this had been treated, Dr. McCarren.
“There’s no evidence,” Dr. McCarren said, “that this pain is of an organic nature — the pains may be psychosomatic.
“There is however, a degree of anxiety — I don’t know how much is anxiety and how much is intentional…”
Judge Older, who obviously agreed with the medical findings, said he felt there was “no evidence whatsoever that Miss Atkins is physically incapacitated, in any way, nor is she suffering from anything that would prevent her from cooperating with her counsel.”
The long haired girl, pale and sobbing, had been wheeled into the courtroom for the start of the afternoon session. She had disrupted the morning session shortly before noon when she feebly stood and threatened to scream if she wasn’t removed from the courtroom. The judge complied.
Later in a voice that was barely audible, she began to testify from the witness stand as to her own ailment. She began her testimony from a wheelchair, but Judge Older, obviously irked, forced her into the witness box.
Sniffling back her tears and occasionally rubbing the sleeve of her prison-issuesweater across her nose, the girl said her stomach and back pains had started more than a week ago.
“After I gave birth to my first child, I went into a state of delirium — I went into another dimension. (It was at this time, she said earlier, that she developed a painful ovarian cyst.) The same thing is happening now — and I’m doing everything I can to bring myself out of this. It’s not nice there. I’m doing everything I can to hold on to my sanity.
“It doesn’t mean anything — what I say. They do what they want to do with me. All day yesterday I ate very little — the girls around me ate what was on my tray.
“I don’t remember going to x-ray or having a shot or having a third enema, like they said I had. It might appear to many people that I’m asleep and resting — but I’m just curled up because it hurts to move. All during the past two days at Sybil Brand I didn’t eat and I didn’t sleep.
“If anyone wants to think my pain is psychosomatic, let them think that. It’s very physical to me.
“If I could sit in this courtroom and not feel any pain and be totally aware…I’d be glad to sit in here. But in the condition I’m in now, I just can’t do it.”
The trial had been underway for less than an hour Wednesday morning when the young woman struggled to her feet at the counsel table.
“I can’t take it any longer,” she cried as she stood to face Judge Older, holding onto the back of a chair. “Your Honor, if you don’t get me out of this courtroom, I’ll start screaming. Get me out of here. I’m hurting bad.” The girl, who stood bent over clutching her stomach, then burst into sobs and was helped from the courtroom by two female deputies.
Although her two female codefendants — Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — appeared concerned about their friend’s pain, Manson only glanced her way briefly. His lack of concern even seemed to startle his two healthy “family” members, who chatted excitedly with him, their foreheads furrowed, when Miss Atkins was carried from the room.
The disruption occurred as the first witness following the three-day court recess was testifying about blood spatters found throughout the home of market owner Leno LaBianca.
Department blood expert M. Joseph Granado, pointed out where blood was found on the clothing recovered several miles from the Tate home.
By MARY NEISWENDER