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Charles Manson follower Charles 'Tex' Watson to seek parole again

November 16, 2011 |  9:51 am

Tex WatsonThe self-described right-hand man of cult leader Charles Manson will seek for a 14th time to get parole at a hearing Wednesday after decades behind bars.

Charles "Tex" Watson, 65, will appear before a parole panel at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, southeast of Sacramento, and seek to be released some 42 years after the Manson Family killings.

Relatives of Watson's victims are slated to attend the hearing and request that the panel again deny Watson's parole for killing actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months' pregnant, and four others at her Beverly Hills home on Aug. 9, 1969. The next night, he helped kill grocery owners Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

"There's no question these were some of the most horrific crimes in California history in terms of the brutality, the multiple stab wounds, the gunshots, the large number of victims over a two-day period," Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Patrick Sequeira told the Associated Press. "For a group of people to just slaughter strangers in hopes of igniting a race war is extremely horrifying."

Watson received the death penalty for his role in the murders but that sentence was later overturned. While in prison, he married and divorced and fathered four children while also starting a prison ministry and becoming an author and ordained minister.

On Watson's ministry website, he says, he believed Manson "offered utopia, but in reality, he had a destructive world view, which Charles ended up believing in and acting upon. His participation in the 1969 Manson murders is a part of history that [Watson] deeply regrets." He notes that he confessed to his crimes but it took him time to admit the horrible acts to himself. Watson argues he is a changed man and model prisoner who is seeking to better society.

On his website, Watson explains his feelings toward the victims at the time. "The night of the murders, I tried to medicate my pain with methamphetamines, but actually, it made it easier to turn my rebellion, fear and anger loose on my victims. Anyone outside the family had become the establishment, pigs -- it was us and them. My life had come to mean nothing, so everyone's life meant nothing. Death lost its meaning since the end of the world was near," he wrote.

"I had no emotional attachments with my victims, whom I had never met. Yet, during the murders, I remember conflicting feelings would arise in a flash, but were overcome because Manson's law was greater than my conscience. He promised us a life free of fear and judgment."


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-- Richard Winton


Photo: Charles Manson follower Tex Watson in the early 1970s. Credit:  John Malmin / Los Angeles Times