Release denied for dying Manson follower
By DON THOMPSON, AP
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - A follower of Charles Manson who stabbed pregnant actress Sharon Tate to death nearly 40 years ago but is dying of brain cancer in a California prison was denied compassionate release Tuesday.
...doctors have given her three months to live. Susan Atkins, in a hospital near the Southern California prison where she was housed for nearly 40 years, did not attend Tuesday's hearing.
The request for compassionate leave generated opposition from relatives of the victims, the state corrections department, Los Angeles County prosecutors and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. "Those kinds of crimes are just so unbelievable that I am not for compassionate release in that case," Schwarzenegger said Tuesday before the parole board issued its decision.
Atkins, Manson and two other cult members, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, were tried for the 1969 cult killings of Tate; Leno and Rosemary La Bianca; and four others. Tate, the wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski, was 8 1/2 months pregnant.
Sharon Tate's sister, Debra Tate, the last surviving member of her immediate family, sent a letter to the board opposing Atkins' release. "She is a cold-blooded woman who to this day has not displayed any remorse," wrote Tate, who lives in the Los Angeles area.
On the stand, Atkins recounted her role in stabbing Tate, who pleaded for the life of her unborn baby. Atkins claimed she was on LSD at the time but did not apologize for the crime until a parole hearing years later.
Her brother, Steve Atkins, told the parole board Tuesday that he and his sister had been abused as children. "After Susan got in with Manson, she was lost to me," he said. "Please let us be with Susan in private in her last days, to pray with her and give our last good-byes."
The defendants were sentenced to death, but their terms were commuted to life sentences when the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. Manson and the two other women remain in state prison. Atkins has spent 37 years in the California Institution for Women, where she has been held longer than any other female inmate in state history. She was transferred to the hospital in March. Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley said that's where she ought to remain. In a letter to the parole board, Cooley said the nature of Atkins' crimes alone should rule out any release. He noted that after Atkins stabbed Tate, she tasted her blood and used it to write the word "Pig" on the victim's door.
Los Angeles County prosecutor Patrick Sequeira said the board made the right decision because of the crime Atkins committed. He said he informed Debra Tate and two other relatives of the victims. "They are both relieved and pleased with the decision," Sequeira said. "It obviously doesn't take away the pain for them."
Atkins' medical treatment and paying for prison guards to watch over her has cost state taxpayers more than $1.4 million since March, according to the corrections department. Atkins, 60, has been denied parole 12 times.
I'm not sure what to think about this....
I'm kidding. I know exactly what I think. Let her rot.
I don't mean to be unfeeling or pitiless, but have you ever read anything about these murders? Seen the photos of the crime scene? The murders remain some of the most heinous in American history. Sharon Tate pleaded for compassion for her unborn child, and Atkins stabbed them both to death. And now she wants compassion?
At this point, it's not about rehabilitation, obviously. It's about punishment for what she did. For the family members of the people she murdered, the thought of her getting a "compassionate release" must have made them nauseous. At the time of the trial, she said that she was on LSD at the time of the murders. No excuse for murder. Her brother claims that they were both abused as children. No excuse for murder. Dying of brain cancer? No excuse for release.
I remember that back in the 70's my Mom had a book that Atkins had written, claiming that she had been "born again." Don't you just love jailhouse conversions? Perhaps it's true, and if so, more power to her. She'll get what is coming to her, good or bad, wherever she's going. In the meantime, she has been judged on earth, and if God has forgiven her, I doubt that Sharon Tate's sister, or other relatives of the murder victims, have been so generous. She is obviously no longer a threat to society, but if it were my sister who had been stabbed 16 times...? I'd say, "Let her rot."