Linda Kasabian received immunity for her role in the Tex Watson murders
Linda Kasabian (AKA: Linda Christian, Yana the Witch, Linda Chiochios) [DECEASED]
In exchange for her testimony against the Manson Family, the DA gave Linda Kasabian full immunity
Linda Kasabian, born in Biddeford, Maine on June 21, 1949, is a former member of the Charles Manson Family. She was the key witness in District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi’s prosecution of Manson and his followers for the Tate-LaBianca murders.
Linda grew up in the New England town of Milford, New Hampshire. Her father was Rosaire Drouin, a construction worker of French Canadian ancestry and her mother, Joyce Taylor, was a homemaker. The Kasabian family struggled financially and her parents often didn’t get along. Her father abandoned them when Linda was still a child. Both of her parents remarried a short time later.
Friends, neighbors, and teachers described Linda as intelligent and a good student. However, she dropped-out of high school and ran away from home at the age of sixteen due to increasing problems with her stepfather, Jake Byrd, who she claimed mistreated her and her mother. Linda headed to the western states, supposedly looking for God.
Marriage at 16
At the age of 16, Linda married Robert Peasley and divorced a short time later. She briefly moved to Miami and tried to reconnect with her father, who was tending bar, but they drifted apart before long. Linda then traveled to Boston, remarried Robert Kasabian, and gave birth to a daughter in 1968.
When Linda’s second marriage soured she and her baby daughter Tanya returned to New Hampshire to live with her mother. Later, her current husband Robert Kasabian contacted her asking that she meet him in Los Angeles. He wanted her to join him and his friend Charles Melton on a sailing trip to South America. Hoping for reconciliation, Linda returned to live with Robert in Topanga Canyon.
By the time she was pregnant with her second child, Linda was feeling rejected. Robert had left her behind for the South American trip he had promised to bring her on. A friend of Melton, Catherine “Gypsy” Share, described an idyllic ranch where a group of hippies were establishing a paradise to escape the social turmoil they anticipated. Kasabian was intrigued and decided, with daughter Tanya in tow, to follow Gypsy to Spahn Ranch in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles. Subsequently, she met what she believed to be a God like figure, Charles Manson.
Kasabian soon fell into the grips of the Manson family doing and saying nearly anything she could to please the group and fit in. According to her testimony, on the night of August 8th 1969, she headed out for what she believed was just another round of ‘creepy-crawly’ missions where family members would break into homes to rearrange things and more or less annoy people.
Just past midnight on August 9, 1969, she arrived at 10050 Cielo Drive where Tex Watson, with some help from Atkins and Krenwinkel, brutally murdered five people including actress Sharon Tate. Manson had chosen Kasabian to go along because she was the only Manson Family member with a valid driver’s license. According to various testimonies, she waited outside while Watson murdered everyone in the house. Did Linda Kasabian drive away from the house at Cielo Drive to notify the police? She did not. She waited for the others and then helped them dispose of the evidence.
“I did not ask Tex why the people at the Tate estate were killed. Tex said they had some money.” — Linda Kasabian
In early December 1969, a grand jury indicted Kasabian, along with Manson, Watson, Krenwinkel, Atkins, and Van Houten for the Tate-LaBianca murders. After months without a break in the case, Atkins bragged about her involvement while in jail on unrelated charges. Fellow inmate Virginia Graham informed on her in exchange for early release. This turn of events led police to discover the group’s involvement in the murders. They arrested Atkins first and Bugliosi offered not to seek the death penalty if Atkins testified in front of a Grand Jury.
Turning State’s Evidence
Kasabian agreed to testify about her involvement in the Tate and Labianca murders. This was after Susan Atkins recanted her entire Grand Jury Testimony. Vincent Bugliosi claimed he had no objection to providing an immunity deal for Kasabian, since Kasabian allegedly played a smaller role in the murders than Atkins. (Side note: although Atkins initially confessed and later testified to stabbing Sharon Tate, she later recanted. Furthermore, Tex Watson has since claimed he alone stabbed Tate. When police found Atkins’ missing knife at Cielo Drive, it had no blood on it whatsoever).
Kasabian testified in the trial for 18 days during which time Manson and his co-defendants would disrupt the testimony. At one point Manson ran his finger across his throat, glaring at Kasabian as she testified. Atkins also repeatedly whispered to Linda across the courtroom “You’re killing us!,” to which Kasabian responded, “I am not killing you, you have killed yourselves.”
For the majority of her testimony, the defense tried unsuccessfully to discredit Kasabian by bringing up her extensive use of LSD. Kasabian did not break under the intensive cross-examination. Her testimony matched all of the physical evidence the State presented.
During Kasabian’s cross-examination, Manson’s defense lawyer Irving Kanarek showed her large crime-scene photographs of the Tate murders. Kasabian’s emotional reaction was in stark contrast to the other Family members. Manson and Krenwinkel’s defense attorney Paul Fitzgerald would later assert that Kanarek’s tactic — meant to discredit Kasabian — was a grave error that backfired. Furthermore, it exonerated the state’s primary witness.
“Charlie has a way of taking the truth and making it a lie.” — Linda Kasabian
She composed herself enough to look up from the color photo of the dead, bloodied Sharon Tate. Then Kasabian shot a look across the courtroom at the defendants. “How could you do that?” she asked. The female defendants laughed. Kanarek asked Kasabian how she could be so certain, considering her LSD use, that she had not participated in the murders. “Because I don’t have that kind of thing in me, to do something so animalistic,” she replied.
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