The state Board of Parole Hearings will decide today whether they will grant Charles Manson follower and convicted murderer Susan Atkins “compassionate release.”
Atkins, 60, reportedly has terminal brain cancer and her bid for “compassionate release” will be one of two cases considered as part of a regularly scheduled monthly board meeting. The other case involves inmate Robert Ramirez, a convicted burglar and three-striker who was sentenced to 35-years in prison in 1995. He is 41.
So far, the Board of Parole Hearings has received over 100 letters, most of them opposing Atkins’ release including one sent by Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley on July 11.
“To grant her release would be an affront to the people of this state, the California criminal justice system and the next of kin of many murder victims,” wrote Cooley.
Susan Atkins in 2001
In the summer of 1969, Atkins stabbed to death a pregnant Sharon Tate a gruesome 16 times at Tate’s Benedict Canyon mansion. After killing Tate, prosecutors said Atkins tasted the actress' blood and used it to scrawl “PIG” on her front door. On that dreadful August 9 night, the Manson Family also killed Abigail Ann Folger, Voytek Frykowski, Steven R. Parent, and Jay Sebring.
The following day, members of the Manson family – excluding Atkins – bludgeoned to death Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary at their home in the Los Feliz hills. Atkins, then 22, was convicted of killing Tate and music teacher Gary Hinman. Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten were soon charged with the other grisly murders.
Atkins was originally sentenced to death but her sentence was commuted to life in prison when the United States Supreme Court established new requirements for the death penalty in 1971.
Manson had preached of an apocalyptic race war he said was predicted in the Beatles song “Helter Skelter.” His followers including Atkins believed they would eventually control the United States — if they performed heinous crimes for Manson.
“Inmate Atkins personally held a pillow over [Hinman’s] face while Robert Beausoleil stabbed him to death,” wrote Cooley.
The California Institute for Women – where Atkins was housed for 37 years – approved her request for “compassionate release,” but was denied by California’s director of adult prisons.
Cooley said Atkins could receive “appropriate and compassionate care” within the California prison system.
However, a sentencing judge in Los Angeles has the final say. It is unclear who that judge might be since Judge Charles H. Older, the original judge in the Manson murder trial, died in 2006.
As it stands now, the former waitress and topless dancer will probably not be alive by the time her request even reaches a judge. She will most likely die in a hospital room at taxpayers expense far away from the prison cell where she was housed for so many years.
So far, her medical treatment hasn’t come cheap. The tab for medical care and security has reached more than $1.2 million since her diagnosis in March.