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Dying ex-Manson follower up for parole

Sept. 2, 2009 at 7:15 AM   |   Comments

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CHOWCHILLA, Calif., Sept. 2 (UPI) -- One of the women convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate 40 years ago and now terminally ill has a date with the California parole board for the 13th time.

Susan Atkins, 61, a follower of Charles Manson, has terminal brain cancer and was scheduled to appear Wednesday before the board for the 13th time, CNN reported.

Her husband and attorney, James Whitehouse, reported on a Web site he maintains she is paralyzed over 85 percent of her body and can't sit up in bed or move into a wheelchair.

Despite her failing health and good prison record, Whitehouse wrote, "there is still a very real chance the parole board will nonetheless insist her release would be a danger to society."

The hearing will be at the Central California Women's Facility at Chowchilla, Calif., said Terry Thornton, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman. Atkins was transferred to the Chowchilla facility from the prison facility Frontera last year because of her illness.

"Last we heard, (Atkins) is expected to attend," Thornton said Tuesday. After the hearing, the panel was to deliberate then make its decision, she said.

Atkins was 21 when she and other Manson followers participated in a bloody two-night rampage that left seven people dead and Los Angeles terrorized in August 1969. She and others -- Manson, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles "Tex" Watson -- were sentenced to death for the slayings, but the sentences were commuted to life without parole when the U.S. Supreme Court voided the nation's death penalty laws in 1972.

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