Susan Atkins
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Susan Atkins | 1948-2009

Susan Atkins
Susan Atkins and other members of Charles Manson’s cult were convicted of killing actress Sharon Tate and six other people during a bloody rampage in Los Angeles over two nights in 1969. Tate, the wife of director Roman Polanski, was 8 1/2 months pregnant when she was killed at her hilltop home in Benedict Canyon. Atkins was also convicted of the earlier killing of music teacher Gary Hinman. (Associated Press)
Susan Atkins, Charles Manson
Susan Atkins looks back as Charles Manson arrives in court in 1970. She was convicted on seven counts of first-degree murder in the Tate-LaBianca killings, including the death of pregnant actress Sharon Tate. She also was found guilty of killing musician Gary Alan Hinman, 34, at his Topanga Canyon home in a dispute over money shortly before the other murders. (Associated Press)
Susan Atkins
Susan Atkins, left, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten head into court in 1970. They and other Manson family members received life sentences in the murders. (Los Angeles Times)
Susan Atkins
Patricia Krenwinkel, left, Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten enter court in February 1971 during the penalty phase of their trial. (Associated Press)
Susan Atkins
Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten return to court in 1971. The three women co-defendents of Charles Manson were convicted with him for the Tate-La Bianca murders in August 1969. Atkins was diagnosed with brain cancer and hospitalized in March 2008. Although prison staff and clergy workers commended her behavior in prison, Atkins was repeatedly denied parole. (Associated Press)
Susan Atkins
Atkins, with hair shorn, is taken to a 1971 hearing. (Los Angeles Times)
Susan Atkins
Leslie Van Houten, left, Patricia Krenwinkel, center and Susan Atkins leave court after their scheduled testimony was delayed in the robbery trial of four other Manson followers in 1973. It was Atkins who broke open the Tate case when she bragged of her participation in the slayings at Sybil Brand Institute in Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)
Susan Atkins
In 1981, Atkins married Donald Laisure, a self-proclaimed Texas millionaire who had been married 35 times before. (Associated Press)
Susan Atkins
Atkins cries during a parole hearing in 1985. “She was the scariest of the Manson girls,” said Stephen Kay, who helped prosecute the case and argued against Atkins’ release at her parole hearings. “She was very violent.” (Associated Press)
Susan Atkins
“It has to be said that she did pay substantially, though not completely, for her incredibly brutal crimes. And to her credit, she did renounce--and I believe, sincerely--Charles Manson,” said former chief prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi, who sought and won convictions for Atkins, Manson and other followers. (Associated Press)
Susan Atkins
Over the years, Susan Atkins changed her story on the murders many times. She at first claimed that she was doing Manson’s bidding when she killed Tate, but later she tried to persuade the jury that she acted on her own. Later still, after more than two decades in prison, she denied that she killed anyone with her own hands and said her crime was failing to stop those who carried out the slaughter. (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Associated Press)
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