CHOWCHILLA, CALIORNIA // Susan Atkins, the terminally ill Charles Manson follower who admitted stabbing actress Sharon Tate 40 years ago, lost what was likely to be her last bid for freedom. Atkins, who suffers from brain cancer, slept through most of the four-hour hearing yesterday during which her husband-lawyer pleaded for her release and families of victims of the Sharon Tate-Labianca killings urged that she be kept behind bars until she dies. In a dramatic moment - one of the few in which Atkins opened her eyes - Atkins' husband, James Whitehouse, led her through a recitation of the 23rd Psalm, with Atkins concluding in a strong voice, "My God is an amazing God".
Debra Tate, sister of the actress who was 8˝ months pregnant when she was killed, told the parole commissioners that she would have a 40-year-old nephew if her sister had lived. She said of Atkins: "I will pray for her soul when she draws her last breath, but until then I think she should remain in this controlled situation." The parole commissioner Tim O'Hara said that he and the other commissioner who presided over the hearing, Jan Enloe, based their decision heavily on the "atrocious nature" of the 1969 killings and said that Atkins never fully understood the magnitude of her crimes.