• Testimony to Start in Tate Trial

Testimony to Start in Tate Trial

LOS ANGELES, Jul. 23 – Charles Manson — is he the world’s hottest lover or the world’s coldest killer?

Beginning Friday, the — and especially seven men and five women sitting in the jury box — will begin to find out.

The trial of the cult chieftain and three of his girl followers begins officially in Los Angeles Superior Court’s Department 104 at 9:45 a.m. It will open with an outline of what prosecutors feel is the story behind the killing of actress Sharon Tate, three of her jet-set friends and a casual visitor Aug. 9, and the murder of Leno La Bianca and his wife, Rosemary, the following night.

Prosecutors charge Manson, the ex-convict leader, of a love-oriented “family,” masterminded both killings.

Although the 5-foot, 3-inch Manson did not actually participate in the murders at the exclusive Benedict Canyon home, of the pregnant actress, prosecutors claim he “ordered” four of his followers to slaughter everyone in the home and write “pig” on the walls.

The reason, they are expected to say, was to divert suspicion from another member of his “family,” who was charged with the murder of a Topanga Canyon musician, Gary Hinman.

Four of the family, the district attorney claims, followed his order, but only two — Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel — are being tried for the murder. Charles Watson, the only male family member involved, is fighting extradition in Texas and will be tried separately later. Linda Kasabian, the other girl-follower charged, has turned state’s evidence in return for immunity. She is expected to be on the witness stand Monday to give her eye-witness account of the killings.

Mrs. Kasabian, who gave birth to her second child in April while in Los Angeles Sybil Brand Institute, is also expected to tell what happened the following night when the La Biancas were killed.

In this murder, prosecutors claim, Manson actually entered the home, tied up the market owner and his wife, then sent in three members of his “family” to finish the job.

The prosecution will contend that while Mrs. Kasabian waited outside, and Manson drove off with two other members of his cult, Watson, Miss Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten — also standing trial — entered the home. When they left, the La Bianca were dead, stabbed repeatedly with knives and a barbecue fork and “pig” was written on a wall.

It was another “copy cat murder,” prosecutors claim, which was intended to take suspicion away from Robert Beausoleil, Manson’s “brother” who has been convicted of the murder and sentenced to die in the gas chamber.

Manson’s followers admit they love him enough to do anything he asks. Even in court, they follow his actions, take his advice, do what he half-way intimates. But, they add, be had never asked them to do anything “improper.”

Whether he asked them to kill — and whether they did — will begin to unfold Friday.


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