• Van Houten Could Have Deceived Psychiatrists, a Specialist Testifies

Van Houten Could Have Deceived Psychiatrists, a Specialist Testifies

LOS ANGELES, May 24 – Leslie Van Houten could have deceived psychiatrists into taking a favorable defense stance at her murder retrial, one of several specialists who have examined the former Charles Manson cultist testified yesterday.

During cross-examination, Dr. Keith Ditman insisted that while Miss Van Houten had been “fairly forthright” with him, it was possible that a person with her intelligence could learn to deceive a psychiatrist.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Stephen Kay filled the entire morning in a Los Angeles courtroom with questions about Miss Van Houten’s constant exposure to psychiatric examination since she was jailed more than seven years ago for the 1969 slayings of Rosemary and Leno LaBianca.

Kay asked Ditman, a specialist in drugs and their effects on the mind, if the 27-year-old defendant could have learned “how to talk to psychiatrists?”

“It’s possible, but that isn’t the impression I got from her experience,” the former UCLA professor replied.

He also told Kay he felt Miss Van Houten showed signs of being “fairly rehabilitated.”

But Kay pressed Ditman about Miss Van Houten’s claim of mental incapacity on Aug. 10, 1969, the night of the LaBianca killings.

The prosecutor used transcripts of testimony and old psychiatric reports to show that some of Miss Van Houten’s later statements about the murders didn’t jibe with her initial ones.

Those conflicting statements, Kay claims, were self-serving ones which gave Miss Van Houten a more advantageous defense.

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