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Parole panel delays decision on Manson cult killer Patricia Krenwinkel

A parole panel has delayed a decision on whether to release an accomplice of cult killer Charles Manson who has become California's longest-serving woman prisoner.

After a day-long hearing, the two-member panel from the Board of Parole Hearings postponed a decision on whether to free Patricia Krenwinkel, 69, "because they felt information discussed at the hearing was cause for an investigation", spokeswoman Vicky Waters said.

The hearing will be continued once the investigation is concluded, she said.

Sharon Tate's sister, Debra Tate, said the parole officials told her the hearing was likely to be postponed for about six months while they investigated whether Krenwinkel met the criteria for having battered women's syndrome.

"She totally minimised her action and blamed everything on other people the whole hearing," Ms Tate said.

Ms Tate said she did not believe the concept that Krenwinkel was a victim because she was free to leave at any time and participated in murders for two nights in a row.

"We all have to be accountable four our actions. I don't buy any of this stuff. She was there because she wanted to be there. Nobody held a gun to her head," she said.

The decision to delay by the panel came after Krenwinkel was previously denied parole 13 times, most recently in 2011.

Krenwinkel admitted during her trial that she chased down and repeatedly stabbed Abigail Ann Folger, the 26-year-old heiress of a coffee fortune, at Sharon Tate's home and helped kill grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary the following night.

Los Angeles County prosecutors say Krenwinkel carved the word "war" into Mr LaBianca's stomach then wrote "Helter Skelter" in blood on the couple's fridge.

Krenwinkel's lawyer Keith Wattley successfully petitioned the state to hold the parole hearing a year early at the California Institution for Women, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, where Krenwinkel is imprisoned.

"California law officially recognizes a person's capacity to change and to address the factors that contributed to their previous behavior so that they can safely be paroled," he said before the hearing.

Krenwinkel contended at her previous parole hearing in 2011 that she was a changed woman. She has a clean disciplinary record, earned a bachelor's degree behind bars, taught illiterate inmates to read and trained service dogs for disabled people.

But Debra Tate said before Thursday's hearing that killers such as Krenwinkel could not be rehabilitated.

"She was a very prolific killer," she said. "They may behave well in a controlled environment but we cannot trust that, given the pressures of life, that they will be able to remain straight" outside prison.

Krenwinkel was a 19-year-old secretary when she met Manson at a party. She told her previous hearing that she left everything behind three days later to pursue what she believed was a budding romance with him.

She wept and apologised, saying she became a "monster" after she met Manson.

"I committed myself fully to him. I committed myself to the act of murder," she said then. "I was willing to sacrifice others' lives for my own."

Prosecutors say the murders were an attempt to ignite a race war after which Manson and his followers would rise from the rubble to rule the world.

Krenwinkel was initially sentenced to death, but the California Supreme Court invalidated the death penalty in 1972.

State governor Jerry Brown has the power to block the release of inmates if parole is granted. He previously stopped the parole of Manson followers Leslie Van Houten, 67, and Bruce Davis, 74.

Krenwinkel became the state's longest-serving woman inmate when fellow Manson follower Susan Atkins died of cancer in prison in 2009.

Anthony DiMaria, the nephew of victim Jay Sebring, noted that Krenwinkel had lived a long time and denied that opportunity to her victims.


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