- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 11, 2012

CORCORAN, Calif. — A prison panel denied parole Wednesday to mass murderer Charles Manson in his 12th and probably final bid for freedom.

Manson, now a graybearded 77-year-old, did not attend the hearing where the parole board ruled that he had shown no efforts to rehabilitate himself and would not be eligible for parole for another 15 years.

“This panel can find nothing good as far as suitability factors go,” said John Peck, a member of the panel that met at Corcoran State Prison in Central California.

Also playing heavily into the board’s decision, which required 20 minutes of deliberation, was something Manson had said recently to one of his prison psychologists that Mr. Peck read aloud.

” ‘I’m special. I’m not like the average inmate,’ ” Mr. Peck quoted Manson as saying. ” ‘I have spent my life in prison. I have put five people in the grave. I am a very dangerous man.’ “

Mr. Peck then spoke for the record directly to Manson, who will receive a transcript of the proceedings: “This panel agrees with that statement.”

Manson orchestrated a series of gruesome murders on consecutive nights that terrified the city of Los Angeles in 1969. His trial with three female acolytes - Susan Atkins, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel - was an international spectacle ending in guilty verdicts and death sentences that later were overturned when the California Supreme Court barred the death penalty.

Referring to the bizarre scene that included bloody scrawling on walls and use of the words “Helter Skelter,” the prosecutor at the time claimed the phrase reflected Manson’s twisted idea that he could cause a race war with the 1969 slaying of actress Sharon Tate, four of her house guests, and, on the next night, supermarket owner Lino LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.

“I’m done with him,” Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate, said after the hearing.

“Two down, six to go,” she added, referring to the prison death of Atkins from a brain tumor and the remaining six people being held in prison for the Tate-LaBianca slayings and other crimes committed under Manson’s watch.

Later, she cried when she described realizing she will never have to worry about Manson going free. “I didn’t expect this feeling of joy today,” she said through tears.

For four decades, Miss Tate has traveled to whatever rural California prison has held Manson or his murderous followers for hearings she said are too numerous to count.

“I’ve tried to take this thing that I do, that has become my lot in life, and make it have purpose,” said Miss Tate, who was 17 in August 1969, when Manson sent his minions across the Los Angeles area on two nights of terror.

Authorities read a litany of Manson’s prison infractions, including the latest - the manufacture and possession of a weapon, for which he is serving 15 months in an isolation unit. He has not completed his GED or taken any self-improvement classes in prison.

“It’s obvious from everything in the record that Mr. Manson remains a danger to the public,” Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira said.

Even Manson’s state-appointed attorney, DeJon Lewis, found it difficult to argue for a client who had refused to meet with him. Manson has not appeared at a parole hearing since 1997. His most recent hearing before Wednesday was in 2007.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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