Charles Manson parole decision expected by this afternoon
The 12th parole hearing for mass murderer Charles Manson was set to get underway Wednesday morning at a Central California prison, though it's unlikely he will attend.
Manson informed prison officials last week that he would not attend the hearing. In the past, he's dismissed the event, saying he's a "political prisoner." The last time he attended a parole hearing was 1997.
The board was supposed to begin its work in the next hour or so, reviewing psychological reports, statements of victims and other materials. A decision is expected by late Wednesday afternoon.
Even if Manson doesn't attend, he will be represented by a lawyer. Attorney DeJon R. Lewis said he would like to see Manson transferred to Atascadero State Hospital from the state prison near Corcoran. "Charles Manson does not need incarceration at this point in his life," Lewis told CNN. "He needs hospitalization."
He and other members of his so-called family were convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate and six other people during a bloody rampage in the Los Angeles area during two August nights in 1969. He is housed at Corcoran State Prison in a special unit for inmates felt to be endangered by other inmates, separate from the general prison population.
Twice in the last few years, Corcoran guards said they found the notorious killer in possession of a cellphone. Manson called people in California, New Jersey and Florida with an LG flip phone discovered under his prison bunk in March 2009, The Times reported in 2011. A second phone was found a year later. Thirty days were added to his sentence for the first offense, officials said.
Earlier, a homemade weapon was found in his possession.
Despite the prospect that Manson will be absent, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said it would vigorously oppose Manson's release. "We consistently [opposed parole] and will continue to do so," spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.
A new photo released by the California prison system shows Manson with long, gray hair and a beard. It was released at the request of CNN.
In 2007 at Manson's last parole hearing, the board concluded he "continues to pose an unreasonable danger to others and may still bring harm to anyone he would come in contact with."
Prosecutors said Manson and his followers were trying to incite a race war that he believed was prophesied in the Beatles song "Helter Skelter."
Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, was 8½ months pregnant when she was killed at the couple's hilltop home in Benedict Canyon on Aug. 9, 1969. Polanski was out of the country working on a film. Besides Tate, four others were stabbed and shot to death: Jay Sebring, 35; Voytek Frykowski, 32; Abigail Folger, 25, a coffee heiress; and Steven Parent, 18, a friend of Tate's caretaker. The word "Pig" was written on the front door in blood.
The next night, Manson rode along with his cohorts to the Los Feliz home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, then left three of them to commit the murders. "Death to pigs" was written on a wall, and "Healter Skelter," which was misspelled, was written on the refrigerator door.
Manson was also convicted of the earlier murder of musician Gary Hinman in his Topanga Canyon home, and the slaying of former stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea at the Spahn movie ranch in Chatsworth, where Manson had his commune.
Manson initially was sentenced to death. A 1972 ruling by the California Supreme Court found the state's death penalty law at the time unconstitutional and his death sentence was changed in 1977 to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
-- Andrew Blankstein and Shelby Grad
Photos, from top: Charles Manson in a recent photo; Manson in a 1968 booking photo, left; and at Corcoran State Prison in 2009. Credits: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via KTLA News; Ventura County Sheriff’s Department; Department of Corrections