Frontera, Calif. - Former Charles Manson follower Susan Atkins was denied parole for the 10th time Thursday, 31 years after the infamous slayings of actress Sharon Tate and six others.
Atkins, 52, now a gray-haired matron, told the parole board that she was remorseful, rehabilitated and determined to make amends for what she did. "I don't have to just make amends to the victims and families," she said softly. "I have to make amends to society. I sinned against God and everything this country stands for."
Atkins and other members of Manson's cult were convicted of killing Tate and six other people in the Los Angeles area over two nights in 1969. Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, was 8 1/2 months pregnant when she was stabbed and hanged. The others were shot or stabbed.
Atkins also was convicted of killing musician Gary Hinman shortly before those crimes. Debra Tate, sister of Sharon Tate, wiped away tears as she read a letter from her father, Paul Tate, who spoke of the anguish his family has endured and pleaded for Atkins' continued incarceration.
"Thirty one years ago I sat in a courtroom with a jury and watched with others. I saw a young woman who giggled, snickered and shouted out insults," Tate's father wrote. "Even while testifying about my daughter's last breath, she laughed."
"My family was ripped apart," the letter said. "If Susan Atkins is released to rejoin her family, where is the justice?"
Board chairman Al Angele said Atkins would not suitable for parole for at least four years. He said she had refused to undergo a psychiatric report for this hearing and urged her in the future to seek psychiatric counseling and to continue participation in self-help groups.
Manson; Charles "Tex" Watson; Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel also are serving life sentences for the murders at various California prisons.