SACRAMENTO, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- Charles "Tex" Watson, a follower of Charles Manson who helped plot and carry out the murder of seven people in 1969, was denied parole by a California review board.
The denial Thursday by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was the 17th time Watson, 70, sought parole. He is serving a life sentence for the murders of actress Sharon Tate and four other people killed at her Beverly Hills home on Aug. 9, 1969.
Watson was also involved in the killings of grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, the following night. Originally sentenced to death, Watson's sentence was reduced to life imprisonment after California declared the death penalty unconstitutional in 1972.
The horrific murders shocked the American public and put a spotlight on Manson, regarded as a cult leader. Watson, in court, described himself as Manson's right-hand man in Manson's so-called "family" of followers. At a 2011 parole hearing, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequiera said of Watson, "His role within the family was a significant one."
"He was essentially the main hit man.... These weren't impulsive actions. Murdering seven people on two subsequent nights were not impulsive actions."
The parole board Thursday said it recognized Watson's efforts to reform -- he apologized to the victims' families in the past, became an ordained minister and earned a college degree while incarcerated in Mule Creek State prison in Ione, near Sacramento, and wrote a book in which he said Manson promised his followers utopia -- but said he still posed a danger to society. He will be eligible to apply for parole again in five years.