Susan Atkins (California Dept.
of Corrections)Related links The Manson murders PhotosManson Family: Murder and Madness 40 years Later Video Essay: 40 Years After Manson (Part I) Video Video Essay: 40 Years After Manson (Part 2)
Video Video Essay: 40 Years After Manson (Part 3) VideoDig at Manson Ranch Ends; No Bodies FoundCharles Manson's Last Hideout Burns Down LOS ANGELES -- Susan Atkins was not expected to survive after
being diagnosed with brain cancer last year.
After nearly four decades behind bars, the former Charles Manson follower was denied parole Wednesday, in what's likely to be her last bid for freedom before she dies.
A panel of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Board of Prison Hearings issued a three-year denial, making the 61-year-old Atkins eligible for her next parole hearing in
Wednesday's hearing marked the 13th time Atkins has been denied parole since 1976.
Atkins, 61, who gained infamy for her role in the 1969 slayings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and others in a bloody two-night rampage in Los Angeles, got a new parole hearing in a bid to receive a
"compassionate release" from state prison.
That hearing began around 1:30 Wednesday afternoon and ran for four hours.
Atkins has slept on a gurney for much of the hearing.
In one of the few moments Atkins opened her eyes, Atkins' husband, James Whitehouse, led her thorough a recitation of the 23rd Psalm.
Debra Tate, a sister of Sharon Tate, and Anthony DiMaria, a nephew of Thomas Seabring, were among those testifying at the hearing at the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla Atkins has
served 38 years in prison, longer than any other female prisoner, officials said.
Before last year's attempt, she was most recently considered for, and denied, parole in 2000.
In early 2008 Atkins was diagnosed with brain cancer.
She lost a bid for compassionate release from prison last July.
Now, her parole hearing, initially scheduled for last week, has been delayed three months because parole board members were unavailable.
"I don't know if she's going to make it through that long," said her husband, James W.
"She is deteriorating." Whitehouse said his wife has undergone surgery to remove a brain tumor, had a leg amputated, is paralyzed over most of her body, can't feed herself and has lost most of her
ability to speak.
Those backing her release argued unsuccessfully that the cost of keeping Atkins in prison, which by now could be well over a million dollars, should have favored her release because it would save the
state substantial amounts of money.
Others, including former Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, said it was a question of mercy and told The Los Angeles Times it was wrong to say "just because Susan Atkins showed no mercy to her
victims, we therefore are duty-bound to follow her inhumanity and show no mercy to her." "They all should live out their natural years in institutions," said Debra Tate, the younger sister of the
If they are released, she said, "I can't trust that they won't inspire other individuals to do similar acts." Tate, the wife of film director Roman Polanski, was 8 1/2 months pregnant when she and
four others were killed at her hilltop home in Benedict Canyon.
The actress, who was stabbed to death, had begged Atkins for her life.
"She asked me to let her baby live," Atkins told parole officials in 1993.
"I told her I didn't have mercy for her." Atkins was housed at the California Institution for Women in Corona from April 1971 until March 2008, when she was transferred to a local hospital for