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Dying ex-Manson follower denied parole

Sept. 3, 2009 at 1:49 AM   |   Comments

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CHOWCHILLA, Calif., Sept. 3 (UPI) -- One of the women convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate 40 years ago and now terminally ill has been denied parole for a 13th time, officials said.

Susan Atkins, 61, a follower of Charles Manson, has terminal brain cancer and appeared Wednesday before the California Board of Parole to ask for a "compassionate release" from the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla so she could die at home. The 12-member board unanimously rejected her request Wednesday night, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Atkins was transferred to the facility from the prison facility Frontera last year because of her illness, CNN reported Wednesday.

Atkins was 21 when she and other Manson followers participated in a bloody two-night rampage in August 1969 that left seven people dead and Los Angeles terrorized. The victims included Tate, who was 8 ½ months pregnant, and musician Gary Hinman.

Atkins -- along with 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.

Atkins slept during much of her parole hearing, which was attended by several supporters of her request -- including the prosecutor who won a conviction against her, the Times said. Family members and other supporters of the victims opposed Atkins' request to be paroled.

Atkins has been in state prison for 38 years, longer than any other woman in California, the newspaper said.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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