Parole denied for Manson follower

SACRAMENTO, Calif. Emotions ran high on both sides as each made convincing arguments to determine whether 60-year-old Susan Atkins, a follower of notorious killer Charles Manson, should be granted compassionate release.

After almost four decades behind bars, she is dying of brain cancer and has three months to live.

"She has paid her debt to society," said Atkins' niece, Alysia Atkins. "She has served about 40 years of her life locked up and it's sad to think that she may pass there."

Atkins and other Manson cult members killed eight people, including pregnant actress Sharon Tate. Tate was married to film director Roman Polanski.

Those gruesome 1969 murders have the L.A. District Attorney's office vehemently opposing Atkins' release -- even if she is dying with her left leg amputated and her right side paralyzed.

"She told witnesses that she kept stabbing Ms. Tate until she stopped screaming," District Attorney Patrick Sequeira said. "She then tasted her blood and wrote the word 'pig' in Sharon Tate's blood at the residence."

California taxpayers have already spent nearly $2 million for Atkins' treatment, hospitalization and guards since March. Her family is willing take on her final expenses.

"Compassionate release for Susan is more about who we are as a society than about who she is," said Atkins' friend, Micki Duckoff.

Still, Sharon Tate's family urged the board to remember the victims and how their lives have never been the same since that summer of '69.

"I cried so hard that night, my eyes wouldn't open the next day," said Tate's niece, Pam Turner. "I was a child, but I was so sick with grief that I too wished I could die."


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