The Induction Phase
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She was released on probation and moved to San Francisco, where she worked briefly as a topless dancer in a North Beach bar. In in Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco's haven for hippies and other wanderers, she met Manson, an aspiring songwriter with an affinity for hallucinogenic drugs and free sex.
He called himself and his followers "Slippies," who posed as peace-loving hippies while planning a hair-raising assault on society. According to Bugliosi in "Helter Skelter," his bestselling book on the case, Atkins was instantly drawn to Manson, who seduced girls by playing on their insecurities.
She testified under questioning by Bugliosi that before she met Manson she had felt she was "lacking something," but then "I gave myself to him, and in return for that he gave me back to myself. He gave me the faith in myself to be able to know that I am a woman. As in all other matters, she followed his command. By August , the Manson family's base of operations was Spahn Ranch, a acre property in the Santa Susana Mountains above Chatsworth where many old westerns were filmed.
They took drugs, had group sex, stole credit cards and scrounged trash bins for food. They also practiced what Manson called "creepy crawling," which involved randomly picking a house somewhere in Los Angeles and entering it while the occupants were asleep. Bugliosi called these expeditions "dress rehearsals for murder. Manson stayed at the ranch while they drove through the Hollywood Hills, winding up at the Tate residence in Benedict Canyon. Around midnight, the nightmare began.
The first to die was Steven Parent, 18, a friend of Tate's caretaker, who encountered the murderers as he was leaving the estate. The other victims were inside the main house: Tate, 26, best known for her role in the movie "Valley of the Dolls"; Hollywood hairstylist Jay Sebring, 35; Voytek Frykowski, 32, a friend of Polanski, who was out of the country; and Abigail Folger, 25, a coffee heiress and Frykowksi's girlfriend.
Atkins later admitted stabbing Frykowski and Tate. She said that before fleeing the scene, Watson ordered her to leave a message in the house that would "shock the world," so she used Tate's blood to write "PIG" on the front door.
At her parole board hearing in , an official asked Atkins if Tate said anything to her in her last moments. They wound up at the LaBianca home. Afterward, they took a shower and made a snack in the LaBiancas' kitchen before departing. Atkins stayed in the car. The '60s "abruptly ended on August 9, ," Joan Didion wrote of the shocking crimes that closed a decade pocked with assassinations, Vietnam War deaths and other violence.
The Tate-LaBianca murders made some people fear "that they had somehow done it to themselves," Didion said, "that it had to do with too much sex, drugs and rock and roll. In , she married Donald Laisure, a self-proclaimed Texas millionaire who had been married 35 times before. The marriage ended when Laisure said he planned to take his 37th wife. In , she married James W. Whitehouse, an Orange County attorney who represented her at her last few parole hearings.
He survives her along with a son she gave up when she went to prison. Susan Atkins looks back as Charles Manson arrives in court in She was convicted on seven counts of first-degree murder in the Tate-LaBianca killings, including the death of pregnant actress Sharon Tate. You are now following this newsletter. Supreme Court narrowed the discretion under which U. Around midnight on August 16, , following a day spent together drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, year-old Daryl Renard Atkins born November 6, and his accomplice, William Jones, walked to a nearby convenience store where they abducted Eric Nesbitt, an airman from nearby Langley Air Force Base.
In spite of Nesbitt's pleas, the two abductors then drove him to an isolated location, where he was shot eight times, killing him. Footage of Atkins and Jones in the vehicle with Nesbitt were captured on the ATM's CCTV camera, which was of the two men with Nesbitt in the middle and leaning across Jones to withdraw money, and further forensic evidence implicating the two were found in Nesbitt's abandoned vehicle.
The two suspects were quickly tracked down and arrested. In custody, each man claimed that the other had pulled the trigger. Atkins's version of the events, however, was found to contain a number of inconsistencies. Doubts concerning Atkins's testimony were strengthened when a cell-mate claimed that Atkins had confessed to him that he had shot Nesbitt.
A deal of life imprisonment was negotiated with Jones in return for his full testimony against Atkins. The jury decided that Jones's version of events was the more coherent and credible, and convicted Atkins of capital murder. During the penalty phase of the trial, the defense presented Atkins's school records and the results of an IQ test carried out by clinical psychologist Dr. Evan Nelson confirmed that he had an IQ of On this basis they proposed that he was "mildly mentally retarded ".
Atkins was nevertheless sentenced to death. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed the conviction but reversed the sentence after finding that an improper sentencing verdict form had been used. At retrial, the prosecution proved two aggravating factors under Virginia law—that Atkins posed a risk of "future dangerousness" based on a string of previous violent convictions, and that the offense was committed in a vile manner.
The state's witness, Dr. Stanton Samenow , countered the defense's arguments that Atkins was mentally retarded, by stating that Atkins's vocabulary, general knowledge and behavior suggested that he possessed at least average intelligence. As a result, Atkins's death sentence was upheld.
Lynaugh , U. Kinser authored the five-member majority. Justices Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr. Due to what it perceived to be a shift in the judgments of state legislatures as to whether the mentally retarded are appropriate candidates for execution in the thirteen years since Penry was decided, the Supreme Court agreed to review Atkins's death sentence.
The Court heard oral arguments in the case on February 20, In the ruling it was stated that, unlike other provisions of the Constitution, the Eighth Amendment should be interpreted in light of the "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a mature society.
Accordingly, the Court had previously found that the death penalty was inappropriate for the crime of rape in Coker v. Georgia , U. Florida , U. The Court found that the Eighth Amendment forbids the imposition of the death penalty in these cases because "most of the legislatures that have recently addressed the matter" have rejected the death penalty for these offenders, and the Court will generally defer to the judgments of those bodies. The Court then described how a national consensus that the mentally retarded should not be executed had emerged.
In , Georgia was the first state to outlaw the execution of the mentally retarded. Congress followed two years later, and the next year Maryland joined these two jurisdictions. Thus, when the Court confronted the issue in Penry in , the Court could not say that a national consensus against executing the mentally retarded had emerged. Over the next twelve years, nineteen more states exempted the mentally retarded from capital punishment under their laws, bringing the total number of states to twenty-one, plus the federal government.
While there are 50 states, 19 don't allow the death penalty under any circumstance, making 21 out of 31 a clear majority of the death penalty states. In light of the "consistency of direction of change" toward a prohibition on the execution of the mentally retarded, and the relative rarity of such executions in states that still allow it, the Court proclaimed that a "national consensus has developed against it. Also, the "relationship between mental retardation and the penological purposes served by the death penalty" justifies a conclusion that executing the mentally retarded is cruel and unusual punishment that the Eighth Amendment should forbid.
In other words, unless it can be shown that executing the mentally retarded promotes the goals of retribution and deterrence , doing so is nothing more than "purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering", making the death penalty cruel and unusual in those cases.
Being mentally retarded means that a person not only has substandard intellectual functioning but also significant limitations in adaptive skills such as communication, self-care, and self-direction.
These deficiencies typically manifest before the age of eighteen.