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Parole Decision On Former Manson Family Member Postponed After Allegations of Abuse Arise

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On Thursday, state parole officials decided to delay a parole decision for Patricia Krenwinkel after her lawyer alleged that the former Manson family member was a victim of abuse, reports the L.A. Times.

A source told the Times that Keith Wattley, Krenwinkel’s attorney, said during the parole hearing that his client suffered “intimate partner battery.” It was not specified when the abuse took place, who the perpetrator was, or if there were multiple abusers. The Times notes that the abusers may have included Charles Manson.

The Board of Parole Hearings found that the allegations were cause for investigation, and decided to delay the parole decision, according to a statement released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Debra Tate, sister of Sharon Tate, one of the victims of the Manson murder spree, told the Associated Press that the delay could take about six months as officials try to determine if Krenwinkel fits the criteria for having battered women’s syndrome.

Anthony DiMaria, nephew of victim Thomas Jay Sebring, told the AP that he was bewildered to hear these allegations come light after more than 45 years have passed since the murders. “For this investigation to be initiated at this point is mindboggling,” said DiMaria. “I don’t understand where we go from a murder, the killing of eight people (including Tate’s unborn child) to an intimate partner battery victim.”

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In 2011, the use of battered women’s syndrome as defense took the spotlight when it helped free two women (in separate cases) who said that they’d been regularly abused for years by their victims. In one of the cases, Gaile Owens had spent nearly 26 years in prison for coordinating the murder of her husband before she was freed after evidence surfaced showing that she was a victim of sustained domestic abuse. The battered women’s syndrome defense is not an easy manuever for attorneys, however. “A battered-woman defense is always an uphill climb," attorney Gloria Allred told ABC News. "There are a lot of questions her lawyers are going to need to answer for the jury. Why didn't she report the abuse? Did she tell anyone?"

Of course, in Krenwinkel’s case, a major factor is that her victims were not her abusers. So it remains to be seen how the investigation's conclusions will affect her parole.

Krenwinkel was present for both nights of the Manson family’s murder spree. She’s admitted that, at Tate’s home, she stabbed Abigail Ann Folger, heiress of the Folger coffee fortune. She also said that she’d helped kill grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, the next night at LaBianca’s Los Feliz home.

Krenwinkel, 69, is the longest-serving female inmate in California’s correctional system. Thursday's parole hearing was Krenwinkle's 14th time before the board.

LAist reached out to Wattley's office, but no one was available for comment.