Susan Atkins must have flipped her "wig" when she appeared at her 1985 parole hearing,
sporting her shoulder-padded power suit & permed wedge hairstyle, after her
attorney introduced some odds/ends to the parole board members while stating his numerous
Eugene Epstein, attorney
for Susan Atkins at that time was sent a copy of a letter originally mailed to
Ron Koenig, who happened to be the good, ol chairman of the California Board of
Prison Terms. The copy was sent by the "Acting Executive Officer" of
the board of prison terms named Gilbert Sawseeto. Guess who sent the letter?
Guess what the letter was about? The letter itself was dated December 3, 1985,
which was a few weeks before Susan's parole hearing, which happened on New
Year's eve (December 31st) of 1985. The letter was from the governor of
California, at the time Mr. George Deukmejian, in which he "asked"
the board to deny parole for Bobby Beausoleil, Susan Atkins and Charles Manson.
In summary, the letter stated, "As Governor, and as a private citizen,
I ask the board to deny parole in these three cases. These inmates represent a
continued threat, to the safety of our community" He went on to
say, "It is our duty to insure that these people remain behind bars for
the rest of their natural lives."
Susan's attorney highly
objected to this letter and went further by stating, "This is a violation
of his powers as Governor of the State of California! It's in excess of jurisdictional powers under
the laws of the State of California. And what is happening here is the Chief
Executive of the State of California is telling you gentlemen, without
having reviewed any of the materials that I gathered before you, that this
parole should be denied. The Governor’s power under California Penal Code
states this: the Governor had no discretion to grant or withhold a parole
release date. Nowhere in the statutes is there a provision for the Governor to
share the Board’s power to grant or withhold parole in the same manner he
shares the power to revoke. It would therefore seem to follow that there is no
statutory authority for the Governor to grant or withhold a parole release
date. Neither is there any such inherent authority for him to rescind such
date. Penal Code Section
304(1) and Penal Code Section 5077, says “The Governor, not the Board, has
discretion as to granting a pardon. On the other hand, the Board, not the
Governor has discretion in fixing petitioner’s term and granting or withholding
parole. And I suggest to you gentlemen that the effect of Governor Deukmejian’s letter
is to affect this process of whether or not to grant or withhold the parole of
Susan Atkins. But
here the Governor has done something significantly different when he tells you
that your duty – YOUR DUTY is to ensure that these people remain behind
bars for the rest of their natural life. That’s the Chief Executive of the
State of California saying those things to you, gentlemen. And I suggest to you
that it infects these proceedings in a way that can’t be remedied."
In answering this embarrassing situation, board member Jauregui completely denied that Governor Deukmejian was writing in his official position as governor, but simply as a concerned citizen. He thought that he had every right, just like any other citizen to do so. Of course, this was total & utter bullshit. Says Board Member Jauregui: "Well, he's not urging us. He's just giving us his opinion. Nobody's going to urge us, you know, whether he's Governor or not, whether we're his appointees or not, that doesn't matter to us." This dragged on for quite a while, with board member Jauregui trying to cover their asses by saying that the governor was just a concerned citizen, etc. Attorney Epstein had a hell of a comeback, though. He told them "I suggest to you that he's writing you that letter on the stationary of The Governor of the State of California and he says to you-he's writing it to you as Governor!
After much bickering back & forth, the board member sheepishly said, "Well, we weren't going to use it anyway."
He comically tried to state that they weren't going to consider a letter from their boss anyway! This was the funniest thing of all. They weren't going to use it? WTF? How could he have said that with a straight face? I'm not suggesting in any way that Susan Atkins deserved to be released, because I don't think she did, but damn they were really full of shit!
The next little tidbit was concerning the depressing facts surrounding the circumstances of Susan's little boy and how she came to lose him. From what I gathered from the parole hearing transcript, Susan met the father of her child in New Mexico when "The Family" was traveling on their fart infested bus. His name was Bruce White and he was a college student from the University of New Mexico studying physiology. He left college and traveled with the Family on the bus, and eventually ended up living with them in Topanga Canyon. Susan claimed to have known him about a month before they moved to Spahn ranch. He impregnated her, then left shortly after finding out Susan was pregnant. He knew she was preggers, but didn't know he was the father (how did she even know?) The parole board asked her if he left because he knew she was pregnant and she stated, "no, he left because he just wanted to go back home." She then told the board that he left when she was three months pregnant (no sense makes sense). She eventually gave birth on October 7th, 1968, describing the birth to the parole board, "We were at the back house at Spahn's ranch when I went into labor and there were a lot of people there involved in playing music and smoking dope, marijuana, taking drugs, and I went into labor, and that was the night my son was born, those people were there. Mary Brunner, Catherine Share and Ella Bailey actually assisted with the birth. Manson was there and assisted in some manner, but mostly the women helped.
" The child weighed only 2 1/2 pounds at birth and a doctor came the next morning, supposedly to exam the child. Susan had the baby for a year and he was taken away from her when she was arrested. She went on to state, "I found out the courts had granted temporary custody to a foster home and the foster parents went to the courts and asked that his name be changed, and I was very grateful to learn that his name was changed to a decent name.
" At the time of this parole hearing, the child was 17 (in 1985). He was adopted when he was four or five. It took the courts approximately two & a half to three years to find a home that would take him. Susan closed out that part of the questioning by stating, "If he looks for me and wants to know who his mother is, I hope that he will find me.
" Sad, very, very sad!
The new year's eve hearing went on in the normal fashion, with them going over her childhood, what she did for work in San Francisco (waitress, topless go-go dancer at the Galaxy Club in North Beach, drink slinger in an after-hours club and a "professional" of the various, uh, nightly "arts." They didn't come right out and ask her if she was hooking, but it's pretty obvious she was. Next up, they started discussing her mental health evaluations. She was furious that a non-board certified, prison psychologist named Dr. J Hamner administered a test on her called a MMPI test, which stands for Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Afterwards, the doc wouldn't release her results to her, which, supposedly was a violation of her rights. The doctor claimed it was "confidential" and actually put the results in his own, personal file, which is illegal. Susan's attorney tried to force the prison officials to hand over her records and they wouldn't budge. He also tried to get a continuance of the hearing, but they wouldn't allow that either. In other words, she was f*cked. The non-board certified psychologist did not write a favorable report about her. He stated, "There are no indications of psychosis of severe psychological disturbances. Susan was logical, oriented in all spheres, and relatively cooperative during the interview. She remains a somewhat emotional individual whose internal dynamics are controlled through intellectualization. MMPI suggests anti-social traits remain strong."
After reading this in the room, the board members told Susan & her attorney that they weren't going to use that information anyway, even though they DID end up using it against her. To counterbalance what Dr. Hamner had to say, Susan was evaluated by another doctor of her choosing, which didn't sit well with Stephen Kay. This doctor was none other than Dr. David E. Smith of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic. As you all know, Dr. Smith also did a study (Case Study of the Charles Manson Group Marriage Commune) on the Family way back when they were active at Spahn ranch. Stephen Kay objected to Dr. Smith's evaluation of Susan by stating, "The first thing I would like to point out, is that I commend the attorneys for including Dr. Smith's biography, because it shows that he is not qualified to testify to the things in his report. He is not a psychiatrist. He is not a psychologist."
Mr. Kay's objections to Dr. Smith went on & on. Was he qualified? I don't know.
Lastly, during this weird hearing, the board, for some insane reason, questioned Susan about her sexuality. Maybe I am wrong, but I didn't know a prisoner's sexual history was a factor in parole. Board member Jauregui started this line of questioning by stating, "We've avoided this question and I've looked at this packet and realized that your mother died when you were 13. the confrontation you had with your brother, drugs and then, I, I gather this thirty years experience working the field as a peace officer and there's no doubt that your sexual freedom, it was there, and that you were not only probably using, but you were also being abused continually somewhere; men were using you. And that was probably part of your down-fall also. It's obvious, if you have any experience dealing with people out on the street, just by reading your packet, that it's there and it's been there and it's been a big part of your problem and I'm wondering, can you make a statement regarding that problem that you had?"
Susan answered pretty honestly, "It's taken me a very, very long time to come to grips with the way I feel about sex, the way I feel about men. Probably for the first time in my life, these last three years-almost four years since my marriage-I don't need outside approval from a man to feel good about myself anymore. In my education, the ability to carry a job and work and be productive has given me a tremendous amount of self-satisfaction. And my concept of myself today is totally different than what it was four years ago. Dr. Jimakis had said I had a needy type personality. Well, I worked very hard on that in group therapy and came to realize, no, I don't need a man's approval. I don't need to be told, in essence, I love you and I'm just going to follow right along with Sue. If, perchance, I, in the future, have a relationship with a gentleman, there's going to be a long period of friendship and there'd be-from my point of view, better let me know that he sees me, the person, and not just what I can offer in a sexual manner, because I'm not into that anymore; I don't need that. It just-It feels good to be free from that. It feels very good. I see sexual relationships and interpersonal relationships in a much more healthy manner; I know what they entail. And if one comes along, fine, but I-I am not looking for one. I am not looking for one."
Note: I guess she changed her mind and jumped back up on that pogo stick when she married James Whitehouse (and his mullet), huh?
The hearing was closed by a statement made by the courageous Doris Tate. I say courageous, because she was able to go to the prison and sit in the same room with that abominable, wretched woman and not completely break down & attack her. She stated, "I'm here today to-I am representing my daughter and her unborn son. Words cannot express the pain and suffering that this woman has put my family through. Susan Atkins and her so-called "family" sentenced my daughter and her baby son to death with-without cause. She begged for her life and the life of her child. Susan Atkins' reply to this was, "SHUT UP, YOU BITCH, YOU'RE GOING TO DIE." And I'm sure it was just in those tones. What compassion did this woman have for my daughter's begging? None. Today, I see no remorse for what she has done. And after their dastardly deed was done, Susan Atkins then proceeds to partake of Sharon's blood. I live with these screams and these beggings for her life daily. Sharon was sentenced to death without a fair trial or without a jury. I was sentenced to life in prison without any possibility of parole, and I say to you: Should Susan Atkins' sentence be any less? I have approximately 350,000 signatures against Susan Atkins' release. And may I present to the board, 2,883 more? I would like for my daughter to be home today and I would like to know what her career-how it would have gone along today. What might it be today had this woman not interfered with her? But most of all, I see no remorse in anything that these four hours have brought to this panel. I thank you for listening to me. And may God be with you to make the decision that has to be made."
Gulp. That was heart-wrenching. I don't know how Mrs. Tate read that, but she got through it and till the day she died, made damn sure the trash that was responsible for her daughter's (and grandson's) death never saw the outside of a stinky, cold, ugly, loud prison. She did her job and did it well.
As a final Austin Ann thought on the subject matter, I have to say that I am not surprised in the least bit about what that governor did, however, I don't think his letter writing was necessary. It was wrong, I know, and violated the hell out of her rights to a unbiased panel, but made no difference either way. What parole board would of released her or any one of her crime partners? None! I really don't think people, nowadays, grasp the enormity of what these people actually did. The human suffering and physical (and mental) pain they caused is beyond description. It cannot be put into words. So many people were murdered and in such a brutal, bloody way, then afterwards, the families of the dead were left to wander the earth, with their loved ones' murder playing in their minds day in & day out. Susan watched all six human beings die. She saw Gary Hinman gasping for breath & choke, because of the stab would to his heart. His lungs probably filled with blood, so he not only was stabbed, and sliced in the face, but he suffocated on his own blood. Do you realize how scared he must of been while laying there? Then, she saw from a short distance, Steven Parent be shot. Did that horrify her? Nope, apparently not. Next, she saw Jay Sebring shot down, then stabbed over & over again, while she did her own amount of stabbing on Wojciech Frykowski's legs while he screamed for help. Ever present, she again, gazed, slack jawed, while Tex Watson plunged a huge bayonet into Abigail Folger's abdomen, causing her intestine to partly be exposed and, of course, she gleefully assisted Sharon Tate, by leading her to the couch to sit down, while putting her in a choke hold, so her beast companion could begin his stabbing frenzy into a PREGNANT WOMAN! If Susan stabbed or didn't stab Sharon, it doesn't matter. She was there and she very much participated. She wasn't revolted in the least bit by blood spilling, people screaming horridly & begging for their lives. Afterwards, when they got caught, she bragged, laughed, sang and acted like a complete lunatic at the trial. And people wonder why she didn't leave prison alive. FIN