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Manson follower Susan Atkins denied parole

September 2, 2009 |  9:12 pm
Atkins For the second time in as many years, a state parole board voted Wednesday to deny one of Charles Manson’s fiercest followers her request for a “compassionate release” from prison so she can die at home.

Convicted murderer Susan Atkins, 61, is terminally ill with cancer and has only months to live, doctors say. The issue of mercy has long dogged Atkins. Nearly 40 years ago, actress Sharon Tate begged the knife-wielding Atkins to spare her life and that of her unborn child.

“She asked me to let her baby live,” Atkins told parole officials in 1993. “I told her I didn’t have mercy for her.”

On Wednesday night, the parole board meeting at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla had little mercy for Atkins, who slept on a gurney for much of a hearing that began in the early afternoon.

The result was the same as last year when, despite the presence of a number of supporters and the approval of the prosecutor who put her behind bars, the 12-member California Board of Parole unanimously voted to deny Atkins’ release.

Atkins is serving a life sentence for the slaying of 26-year-old Tate, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, and musician Gary Hinman. She has served 38 years in prison, longer than any other female in California.

The victims’ relatives and supporters opposed Atkins’ release, saying she showed no mercy Aug. 9, 1969, when she and other young followers of Manson entered a hilltop Benedict Canyon mansion and murdered the five people.

A former topless dancer who used to sing in her church choir, Atkins was one of Manson’s most loyal disciples. After fatally stabbing Tate, prosecutors said, Atkins tasted the actress’ blood and used it to write "PIG" on the front door of the mansion.

During her trial, which took more than nine months, Atkins seemed to show no remorse and maintained utter devotion to Manson, whom she called "Jesus Christ," "the devil" and "the soul." During sentencing, she taunted the court, saying, "You’d best lock your doors and watch your own kids."

-- Richard Winton and Hector Becerra

Photo:  Susan Atkins lies on a gurney at her parole hearing today.   Credit: Ben Margot / Pool photo

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