The Manson "family " member Susan Atkins asks for mercy, 40 years after brutal murders
Some people have faced death sentences for crimes that didn't have this degree of evil in them. I remember the process. It was complicated.
On an infamous summer night in 1969, young followers of Charles Manson entered a Benedict Canyon mansion and murdered five people gathered on the compound.
Actress Sharon Tate, 8 1/2 months pregnant with the son of director Roman Polanski, begged one of the knife-wielding killers to spare her life. The attacker was Susan Atkins, and her response was cold and unequivocal.
"She asked me to let her baby live," Atkins told parole officials in 1993. "I told her I didn't have mercy for her."
Almost 40 years later, it's Atkins who is asking for mercy.
Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and confined to state prison on a life sentence, the 59-year-old is asking to be released from state prison on "compassionate" grounds.
Debra Tate, the actress' sister and only surviving relative, strongly opposes the release of Atkins or any members of the Manson family.
"They are serial killers and they were convicted to die and they need to stay incarcerated," she said. "People don't just become cured from being sociopaths. There's no deprogramming, no pills, no drugs that make that go away."
Margaret DiMaria, the sister of Jay Sebring, a hairdresser who was killed at the Benedict Canyon home, agreed.
"It is most unfortunate that Ms. Atkins now suffers a terminal illness. However, in the eyes of the law and in memory of her victims, I fail to see how one thing correlates to the other," DiMaria and her son Anthony said in a statement Friday. "She repeatedly committed crimes requiring evil premeditation and executed them in a cavalier manner that afforded her victims no mercy. The sentence Ms. Atkins now serves should not be mitigated because fate has struck this blow."