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Episode 27: Squeaky Fromme Competency Hearing

Lynette Alice “Squeaky” Fromme was a member of the Manson family. On the morning of September 5, 1975, Fromme went to Sacramento’s Capitol Park, where President Gerald Ford would be speaking, dressed in a red robe and armed with a semi-automatic pistol that she pointed at the President. The pistol’s magazine was loaded with four rounds, but there was no cartridge in the chamber. She was immediately restrained by a Secret Service agent, and arrested.

On the afternoon of Sunday, September 21, 1975 Fromme was interviewed on tape at the Sacramento County Jail by Dr. James Richmond to evaluate if she was mentally competent to give up counsel and represent herself at trial.  Dr. Richmond’s determination read:

Miss Fromme acknowledged having experimented with LSD and marijuana in prior years. She said that newspaper accounts of how heavily she had used drugs were patently false. She estimated that she had used LSD approximately 30 or less times, and she stated that she had never experienced any severe psychiatric disturbance from such use. She said that she had used marijuana lightly, perhaps one joint per week, in no steady pattern. She said that the effects from it were even lighter than from the LSD. She denied any residual memory or intellectual deficit from the use of either … 

As the examination continued she loosened up emotionally, showing a range of emotional expression in keeping with the present situation. She smiled appropriately periodically. She displayed no overt anxiety or depression, and there were no signs of a psychotic thought disorder. She was attentive, comprehended my questions without difficulty except for occasional words with which she was not familiar, and her responses were quick, pertinent, and appeared candid. Her statements were consistently rational. She appeared to be a most sensitive and intuitive person, acutely tuned in to social issues …

Fromme was not allowed to represent herself in court, and, as a result, she refused to cooperate with her own defense. After a lengthy trial, she was sentenced to life imprisonment, and released on parole on August 14, 2009, after serving nearly 34 years.

Listen to the psychiatric evaluation here.