Linda Kasabian… (Immunity)

Linda Kasabian (AKA: Linda Christian, Yana the Witch, Linda Chiochios)

Linda Kasabian, AKA: Linda Christian, Yana the Witch, Linda Chiochios, was given immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony in the Charles Manson Trial.

Linda Kasabian, born in Biddeford, Maine on June 21, 1949, is a former member of Charles Manson’s “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 the family when Linda was still a young child. Both of her parents remarried a short time later.

Linda is described by friends, neighbors, and teachers as intelligent, a good student, but 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.

At the age of 16, Linda married Robert Peasley, but 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 began to sour, 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 a friend, Charles Melton, on a sailing trip to South America. Linda, who was hoping for reconciliation, returned to Los Angeles to live with Robert in the Los Angeles hippie hangouts of Topanga Canyon.

By the time she had become pregnant with her second child, Linda was feeling rejected by her husband, who 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 anticipated social turmoil such as Manson’s “Helter Skelter” theory. Kasabian was intrigued and decided, with daughter Tanya in tow, to follow Gypsy to Spahn Ranch in the Chatsworth area of Los Angeles, where she subsequently 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. Before she knew it, arriving just weeks before the Tate – Labianca murders were to take place, she was headed out in the middle of the night for what she has claimed she believed was just another round of ‘creepy-crawly’ missions where family members would wear dark clothes and break into homes to steel.

On the night of August 9, 1969, she found herself at 10050 Cielo Drive where a night murder and mayhem took place. The next evening another gruesome scene evolved.

In early December 1969, Kasabian, along with Manson, Watson, Krenwinkel, Atkins, and Van Houten, were indicted by a grand jury for what became known as the Tate-LaBianca murders after Atkins bragged about her involvement while in jail on unrelated charges. Atkins was then turned in by fellow inmate Virginia Graham in exchange for Graham’s early release. This turn of events led to the discovery of the groups involvement in the murders and Atkins, since she was the first to be arrested, was offered that the prosecution would not seek the death penalty against her in exchange for Atkins testimony in front of a Grand Jury.

Kasabian eventually turned state’s evidence when she agreed to testify about what she saw and heard surrounding both the Tate and Labianca murders after Susan Atkins recanted her entire Grand Jury Testimony. Prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi claimed he had no objection to provide an immunity deal to Kasabian rather than give anything at all to Atkins since Kasabian apparently played far less of a role in the murders than Atkins.

Kasabian testified in the trial for 18 days during which Manson and his co-defendants would disrupt the testimony with various attempts to convince Kasabian to cease cooperation. At one point during the testimony 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 into account her extensive use of LSD and by attempting to perforate her story. Kasabian did not break under the intensive cross-examination, and her testimony matched all of the physical evidence that had been presented, in addition to being supported by the subsequent prosecution witnesses.

During Kasabian’s cross-examination, Manson’s defense lawyer Irving Kanarek showed her large color 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 completely backfired, and further it exonerated the state’s primary witness. Composing herself enough to look up from the color photo of the dead, bloodied Sharon Tate, Kasabian shot a look across the courtroom to the defendants. “How could you do that?”, she asked. The female defendants laughed. Manson’s defense attorney Kanarek asked Kasabian how she could be so certain, considering her LSD use, that she had not participated in the gruesome act. “Because I don’t have that kind of thing in me, to do something so animalistic,” she replied. Kasabian’s testimony, more than anything else, led to the convictions of Manson, Watson, Krenwinkel, Atkins, and Van Houten.

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