LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Mass murderer Charles Manson, one of America’s most notorious convicts, was denied parole on Wednesday in his 12th and possibly final bid for release from a California prison, state corrections officials said.
Manson, 77, who has declined to attend his parole hearings in recent years, was not present for Wednesday’s review of his case by the state Board of Parole Hearings at Corcoran State Prison, where he is serving a life term.
The state Corrections and Rehabilitation Department said Manson would next be eligible for parole in 15 years, when he would be about 92 years old.
He had been denied release on parole 11 times before, most recently in 2007, when the board ruled that he “continues to pose an unreasonable danger to others and may still bring harm to anyone he would come in contact with.”
Following a hearing of about two hours at Corcoran, located 175 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the board announced its latest rejection in a statement issued through the corrections department without further comment.
But according to pool media accounts from inside the proceeding, Parole Hearing Commissioner John Peck said Manson had accumulated 108 serious disciplinary violations in prison since 1971 and has shown no sign of remorse for his murder convictions.
Manson also has failed to participate in self-help programs or vocational training, nor has he demonstrated any plans for what he would do if paroled.
Peck cited a statement Manson made to a prison psychologist last fall, in which the convicted killer described himself as “special” and “not like the average inmate.”
“I have put five people in the grave. I’ve been in prison most of my life. I‘m a very dangerous man,” Peck quoted Manson as saying as the commissioner read aloud from a report during the hearing.
Manson’s state-appointed attorney, DeJon Lewis, said he did not know why his client skipped the hearing and told the panel Manson also had declined to leave his cell to be interviewed by the lawyer a month ago.
“Quite frankly, I don’t think he could have helped himself today by speaking on the record,” Lewis told reporters afterward, according to CNN.
Corrections department spokesman Luis Patino said Manson last showed up for a parole hearing in 1997.
Amid the hippie culture of the 1960s, Manson, a charismatic ex-convict, put together a collection of runaways and outcasts known as the Manson Family. In the summer of 1969 he became one of the 20th century’s most infamous criminals when he directed his mostly young, female followers to murder seven people in what prosecutors said was part of a twisted plan to incite a race war between whites and blacks.
Among the victims was actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski, who was stabbed 16 times by members of the cult in the early morning hours of August 9, 1969.
Four other people also were stabbed or shot to death in Tate’s home that night by the Manson followers, who scrawled the word “Pig” in blood on the front door before leaving.
The following night, Manson’s group stabbed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca to death, using their blood to write ”Rise,“ ”Death to Pigs and “Healter Skelter” - a misspelled reference to the Beatles song “Helter Skelter” - on the walls and refrigerator door.
Manson is serving a life sentence for those seven slayings and the murder of an acquaintance, Gary Hinman, who was stabbed to death in July 1969.
Manson originally was sentenced to death in 1971 but was spared execution after the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional. In 1977, his sentence was commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
California later resumed executions but Manson’s life sentence was left intact. He had been eligible for a parole hearing at least once every five years.
But the parole board set his next review for 15 years from now, opting for the new maximum interval of parole consideration established under a law passed by California voters in 2008, Patino said.
Debra Tate, sister of the slain actress, attended Wednesday’s hearing, telling the board she believed Manson “clearly does not want to be released into the public.” She expressed elation after his parole application was denied, possibly for the last time.
A photograph of Manson issued by the prison this week shows the gray-bearded killer as he appeared last June, his face still bearing the scar of a swastika he carved into his forehead during his sensational 1970 murder trial.
Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Christopher Wilson and Lisa Shumaker