Monday, May 6, 2019

Something I Noticed

As the foremost researcher on the subject of eyewitness memory, Jean Loftus, has said, memory is not like a video where you can hit replay. It is a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. The stress of the event increases the number of missing pieces (although it focuses some pieces with tremendous clarity) and many things can fill in those missing pieces. When that happens, the eyewitness can come to truly believe the false memories. 

"Factors such as viewing conditions, duress, elevated emotions, and biases influence the visual perception experience. Perceptual experiences are stored by a system of memory that is highly malleable and continuously evolving, neither retaining nor divulging content in an informational vacuum. As such, the fidelity of our memories to actual events may be compromised by many factors at all stages of processing, from encoding to storage and retrieval. Unknown to the individual, memories are forgotten, reconstructed, updated, and distorted."

From the NAS study: Identifying the Culprit: Assessing Eyewitness Identification (2014) 

Finding examples of this in the official narrative is more difficult because we do not have many records of eyewitness memories near the time of the events. We do know Bugliosi ‘over-interviewed’ witnesses according to any expert on the subject and that his process was statistically very likely to have influenced later recall during testimony. This is especially the case when it comes to Linda Kasabian.

Remember, Bugliosi knew the official narrative from Susan Atkins and knew more than Kasabian had witnessed, even if his source was unreliable. That, together with his multiple interviews, is a potentially dangerous combination when it comes to maintaining witness memory.

[Aside: For those who challenge the phrase ‘official narrative’ I offer this definition. The official narrative means the story of what happened that terrible night at Cielo Drive. Despite our disagreements about those events, the average person who has more than a passing knowledge of the crime could probably recite the official narrative for you. That story actually has its origin not in the trial testimony but in the Grand Jury testimony of Susan Atkins. That testimony is, no matter how much some would try to argue to the contrary (and some will), the “official narrative”.]

The Testimony

Q (Bugliosi). And did anything unusual happen after dinner that night?

A (Linda Kasabian). Yes. I remember I was in the kitchen, cleaning up, and maybe just sitting around.

Q. How long after dinner was this?

A. Maybe an hour, or so.

Q. You may continue.

A. And there were people sitting out front, you know, on chairs or on the rocks, which was a usual thing after we eat, talking, whatever. I remember I was standing out front at this one point and Charlie came up to me and pulled me off the porch, and I was standing at the very end of the porch, closest to George Spahn's house.

MR.KANAREK: Your Honor, I object to what was stated on the grounds of hearsay.

THE COURT: Don't interrupt, sir.

A. He told me I needed a change of clothing, to get a change of clothing, a knife and my driver's license.

Q. He told you what?

A. He told me to get a change of clothing, a knife and my driver's license.

Q. Did Mr. Manson tell you to change the clothing you already had on or to bring an additional change of clothing? [Emphasis added]

A. To bring an additional change of clothes.

MR.KANAREK: Compound, your Honor, and also ambiguous.

THE COURT: Overruled.

Q. To bring an additional change of clothing?

A. Yes.

A. Then Brenda came along, and Charlie was with her, or they were standing together in a group, and she gave me the driver's license. And Charlie told me to go with Tex and to do what Tex told me to do.

The part I left out is testimony by Ms. Kasabian describing her efforts to first find her driver’s license and then her effort to find a knife, finally receiving a knife from “Larry”.  

This is arguably Linda Kasabian's most important testimony, legally. It likely did more to convict Charles Manson, legally, then anything else she said. That said, I tend to agree with Ed Sanders that when she later testified regarding the murder of Wojciech Frykowski every defendant in that courtroom walked into the gas chamber and nothing was going to alter that outcome. 

Every witness Bugliosi called and every question he asked was intended to build a case that convicted the four defendants. As to one of them, he had the added problem that Manson hadn’t actually killed anyone. And there should be little doubt that Manon was his target. 

Bugliosi is seeking to accomplish two things with this testimony. The obvious one is connecting Manson directly to initiating the crime. Manson is orchestrating the events and demonstrating premeditation. This is also evidence of Manson’s ‘agreement’ to participate in the conspiracy to commit murder. Other witnesses would more solidly make him the author of that conspiracy, although Kasabian’s testimony regarding “now is the time for Helter Skelter” certainly helped. 

Given the events of the second night, which convict Manson regardless of anything that happened the first night, one could ask why this was so important to Bugliosi? To answer that all you need to do is a search on Rosemary and Leno LaBianca before and during the trial on Then do the same search on Sharon Tate. 

The trial was the “Tate” trial. The murders were the “Tate” murders. She was the celebrity, a budding movie star and sex symbol. It was the deaths at Cielo Drive that scared the public and made the headlines. 

Perhaps more importantly, from Bugliosi’s perspective, he had no eyewitness to the murders the second night. But as to Cielo Drive he had an eyewitness who saw Watson commit two murders and saw Krenwinkel attempting to commit murder and who placed Atkins in the middle of the bloodbath. She had them wielding the knives they were ordered to obtain and she had them changing their cloths. Manson ordered it. They did it.

Bugliosi wanted to tie Manson directly to those events and Kasabian very effectively does that, right there. 

The second goal of this testimony was to separate Kasabian from those bloodthirsty, remorseless, zombie killers in the courtroom. As he stated in his closing argument:

“On that hot summer night of August 8th, 1969, Charles Manson, the Mephistophalean guru who raped and bastardized the minds of all those who gave themselves so totally to him, sent out from the fires of hell at Spahn Ranch three heartless, bloodthirsty robots and, unfortunately for him, one human being, the little hippie girl, Linda Kasabian.”

(Vincent Bugliosi’s Summation, Tate/LaBianca Trial, Vol. 169, Page 21,396,

Bugliosi’s best lawyering in the case in my opinion was his ability to turn Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten into zombies who slavishly obeyed every command of Manson and wouldn’t change a light bulb without his permission and then turn around and convince the jury they were independent, free willed beings who killed for the joy of it in the next breath. Compare his success to the subsequent mistrial in Leslie Van Houten’s case where this same tactic almost backfired on the prosecution.

Separating Kasabian from Atkins, Krenwinkel and Van Houten is critical to Bugliosi’s case. He does not need the jury to like or embrace Kasabian but he certainly doesn’t want them to view her in the same light. He wants her present at the scene but not participating and he wants her separated from them physically, emotionally and most importantly by motivation. 

What we learn from this testimony is that Charles Manson gave the specific orders that triggered the murders. These were: 

Get a change of clothing (covering up the crime)
Get a knife (the instrument of murder)
Get your driver’s license (the 'separating' fact) and
Go with Tex and do whatever he says

The first two show premeditation. The third separates Kasabian from the other three by providing a ‘technical’ reason for her presence. The fourth allows Bugliosi to provide an explanation to the jury why Kasabian didn’t know what she was headed out to do that night, which, makes her less culpable. 

[Aside: I’m not suggesting, by the way, that all of these things weren’t ‘real’ or weren’t said. I’m not saying they didn’t happen. From what we know, they did. For example, Kasabain did retreat to Steven Parent’s car thus physically separating herself from the rest. Depending on who you believe we know from her coconspirators that, except perhaps one or two times when she entered the house, she was missing in action when the crime was over.]

Manson told Kasabian to get her driver’s license, a knife, a change of clothing and go with “Tex” and do whatever he told her to do. That is what she did. But did he?

The Clothing Issue

The original source of Manson's instructions is not Linda Kasabian but the far from credible, Susan Atkins, in her Grand Jury testimony.

Q BY MR. BUGLIOSI: Susan, on the date August the 8th, 1969, did Charlie Manson instruct you
and some other members of the Family to do anything? 

A: I never recall getting any actual instructions from Charlie other than getting a change of clothing and a knife and was told to do exactly what Tex told me to do.

Q: So Charlie told you on August 8, 1969, to get a fresh change of clothing, get a knife, and do whatever Tex told you to do? 

A: Yes.


Q: Did Charlie indicate to you that the type of clothing you should take should be dark clothing? 

A: He told me that the type of clothing I should wear should be dark clothing and the clothes that I would take along with me should be -- didn't matter, just a change of clothing, wear dark clothes. 

Q: Did you, in fact, put on a pair -- or, a dark clothing outfit? 

A: Yes, I did.

( Susan Atkins Grand Jury Testimony (Kindle Locations 280-302). Kindle Edition.)

One thing I noticed about these instructions is the degree to which they are nearly identical. Certainly, it is possible that Manson gave everyone the exact, same, instructions but, except for the driver’s license, they even occur in the same order: clothing, knife, Tex. To me that seems a little odd. 

There is, however, one difference. Atkins’ story actually makes more sense unless we assume everyone sat around Spahn Ranch wearing black T-shirts and blue jeans. Kasabian is told to get a change of clothing. She chose a lavender top and a denim, mini skirt. But Atkins was actually told to change her cloths and put on dark clothing. Now it is possible that Kasabian was already wearing dark clothing. One might ask 'why?'

Bugliosi’s question, emphasized, above, suggests to me that he expected a different response, a response consistent with Atkins’ previous testimony. Maybe he even received a different response during his interviews. Maybe he went over it so many times with her that the answer surprised him especially if that interview started like this: "Now, Linda, we know from Sadie that Manson said......"  

Bugliosi does a bit of exactly that in what few interviews we do have and that is precisely what shouldn't happen. 

And naturally knowing what Atkins had previously said, he would be somewhat surprised by her answer. 

Krenwinkel’s account of this event on at least three occasions differs from both Atkins and Kasabian. 

“I was in taking care of the children at the time at—when I was awakened in the night and I was told to go with Tex by Charlie. I got into the car with Tex and it wasn’t but way late down the road somewhere that I asked Tex what we were going to do. And it was when we were—and for a long time he said nothing. And then eventually, and so we just grabbed whatever and drove.” 

(Patricia Krenwinkel 1978 Parole Hearing,

“Inmate Krenwinkel: I participated because Mr. Manson came to the trailer where I was taking care of the children and told me to come out to come to the ranch. When I came up to the front of the ranch there was a car and Mr. Watson was there and Miss Atkins was there and Miss Kasabian was there and Mr. Manson told me to go with Mr. Watson and do whatever he said.”

(Patricia Krenwinkel, 2004 Parole Hearing,

INMATE KRENWINKEL: What happened was I was -- and most of the time, like I said, I was designated to take care of the children or do the cooking or whatever. I was more of a domestic --


INMATE KRENWINKEL: -- assignments. And I was, I was in the trailer with the children when he came and got me out of the trailer and told me to go with Tex. First, he said go to the house and Lynne Fromme was there and she gave me dark clothing and a knife.


INMATE KRENWINKEL: And Manson said, go with Tex and there was Susan and myself and Linda Kasabian and Tex. And he told us to get into a car and go with Tex. And together he said –

PRESIDING COMMISSIONER CHAPPELL: Let me ask you this, let me, let me stop you real quick, and then I'll let you continue. Let me ask you this, so when Susan, you said, gives you the dark clothing?


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER CHAPPELL: Lynne. When Lynne gives you the dark clothing and gives you the knife.


PRESIDING COMMISSIONER CHAPPELL: Of course you don't, you don't ask Charles Manson why is this happening?

INMATE KRENWINKEL: No, he wasn't even there, yeah.

(Patricia Krenwinkel 2016 Parole Hearing,

It appears from Krenwinkel’s testimony (some not quoted here) at her 2016 parole hearing that she, like Atkins, actually changed into dark clothing before she left Spahn Ranch. Krenwinkel is never told to get a knife or a change of cloths she is given these by Lynne Fromme. In fact, she is never told to get either a knife or a change of clothing in any of these accounts. And by her account all three women are present at the car when Manson tells them all only to obey Watson.

Too me this version actually makes more sense than either of the other two accounts. Assuming Manson is up to his eyeballs in this thing why actually help commit the crime. Just put the wire cutters, rope and knives in the car (or better yet, have someone like Brenda or Squeaky or Clem do that) and just say the “go with Tex”, part. 

That part, if alone, makes it much harder to convict Manson. 

The Driver’s License

This one has always intrigued me and I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to prove whether Kasabian actually had a driver’s license on August 8, 1969. Aside from her testimony everything else I have found indicates that she didn’t. Since I can't justify a trip to Milford, New Hampshire, I have this evidence. 

Put aside for the moment the testimony that only those with a license were ‘allowed’ to drive the vehicles at Spahn and the fact that Kasabian didn’t drive that night, Watson did. The available evidence I can find does not corroborate the fact she had a driver’s license. Maybe the evidence is out there. Maybe it is in Sanders' shed to the 'tubs' in the LA, DA's archives but I have never seen it. 

What I do know is that on or about May 7, 1969, while she was in New Hampshire, Ms. Kasabian was pulled over for a traffic violation. In addition to whatever ticket the officer wrote, she was also charged with “operating [a motor vehicle] without a valid license”. 

In 1969 there were two driver’s license-related violations in her home state: 

Driving a vehicle while not possessing a license and
Driving without a valid license.

The first one occurs when you get pulled over and the officer asks for your license and you realize it
is at home in your other pants. The second violation occurs when either you simply don’t have a license or it has expired or was suspended. The second was typically cited as “driving without a valid license” the first is cited as “license not in possession” or “failure to produce”. 

On May 7, 1969 Ms. Kasabian did not have a valid driver’s license. Period. 

It is, of course, possible the article listed the wrong offense, although I doubt that. It is also possible that Kasabian simply went out and renewed her license or somehow fixed the problem before she left for California but if Kasabian committed some other violation at the time she was cited for driving without a valid license she would not be eligible to renew her license for one year under New Hampshire law. That, of course, would mean she didn't have a valid driver's license on August 8, 1969.

It is highly unlikely Ms. Kasabian was pulled over for not having a valid driver’s license, the officer wouldn’t know that until he pulled her over. We know from the trial transcript that Kasabian had one traffic ticket, unfortunately, there are no specifics. This could refer to the issue with the license, but why didn't Kanarek notice the charge?

Mr.Kanarek: “Then I ask, your Honor, also I would like to have all of the make sheet of Linda Kasabian; that is, all the prosecution has in connection with her.

Mr. Stovitz: We furnished it to you, we will furnish it again. 

Mr. Bugliosi: She has no make sheet. She just has a traffic ticket.

This points out the incredible incompetence of defense counsel. If this is the "no valid license" ticket they apparently didn't recognize what Bugliosi was using the license to accomplish. If it is not, a phone call to a PD in Milford might have provided some decent cross examination.

The only other evidence of driver’s licenses I have seen (other than Manson's) comes from Lt. Earl Deemer’s list of “Family” members and associates and guess what? 

Kasabian isn’t identified as having a driver’s license. 

Other "Family" members and associates have their driver's licenses indicated. That would be the "DL" number and notice two are out of state.

Did she have a valid license? I have to lean heavily towards 'no' until something else surfaces or I take a trip to New Hampshire. 

The Strange Case of the Tele-transporting Knives or Who Else Was at the Car That Night?

Kasabian’s testimony. 

Q (Bugliosi): Were there any knives or guns in the car, Linda?

A (Kasabian): Yes, there was.

Q: How many knives and how many guns?

A: There were 3 knives and one gun.

Q: Where was the gun in the car?

A: It was in the glove compartment.

Q: What about the 3 knives?

A: They were on the front seat. I was to ---

Q: Okay. Check this.

At this point Bugliosi cuts off Kasabian’s explanation. But what follows is testimony that she was to throw the knives out the window if they were pulled over on the way to Cielo Drive, which is precisely what she was about to say. 

Anyone notice the problem? 

Spoiler: when Kasabian got into the car the knives were already in the car on the front seat. But how did they get there since each person was supposedly told to get a knife and would, then, logically have one in their possession, not on the front seat? 

It seems to me that one of two things happened. 

One possibility is that someone, unidentified, gathered all the knives and put them in the car while Manson or someone discussed things with the group or…. 

Wait, that discussion never happened. Manson’s only appearance at the car is the “leave something witchy” stuff and Watson says nothing until they are well on the way, according to Kasabian but not Krenwinkel.

If there was, indeed, a discussion and a meeting together before they left and someone gathered the knives and put them in the such a meeting casts doubt on the whole “I didn’t know what we were going to do” bit as to all of them, including as to Kasabian who was apparently already wearing 'creepy-crawl' gear. 

But that is not what Kasabian says, not even close. She says the knives were in the car on the front seat when she got in the car. 

Or……. the knives were already in the car when Kasabian got in the car, like she said. That, of
This is not Manson
course, means that a lot of what she said about the lead up to that moment may not be completely accurate. 

Memories are impacted by stress and filled in by many sources: other eyewitnesses, what someone reads, or how they are interviewed by law enforcement and district attorneys. 

On one end of the spectrum all of this could just be the observations of someone who is paid to be paranoid, lawyers are paid to be paranoid. So, it may mean nothing. 

On the other extreme end of the spectrum it may mean Manson never gave those instructions.

Frankly, I never understood why he would give those instructions. I could see him saying “go with Tex” as reported by Krenwinkel on three occasions, but the rest? Why? 

It’s just something I noticed. It may mean nothing. 

Pax Vobiscum