SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In a story Dec. 2 about a parole hearing for one of the so-called "San Francisco witch killers," The Associated Press reported erroneously that attorney Laura Sheppard didn't return calls from an AP reporter after the hearing. In fact, she texted the reporter and confirmed the outcome of the hearing. In an e-mail to AP Dec. 4, she said she would have no further comment.
A corrected version of the story is below:
Board denies parole to 'San Francisco witch killer'
California board denies parole to woman who was one of 'San Francisco witch killers'
By PAUL ELIAS
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — One of two so-called "San Francisco witch killers" was denied parole Wednesday, state prison officials said.
A California parole board found Suzan Carson, 73, unfit for early release and scheduled her next parole consideration for 2030, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Luis Patino said.
Carson and her husband were convicted of killing three in Northern California in the 1980s during a drug-fueled religious quest to rid the world of witches. They were each sentenced to 75 years to life.
"I am so happy we won't have to worry about her for another 15 years," said Lisa Long, the sister of the couple's first victim. Long traveled from Atlanta to testify at Suzan Carson's hearing at a women's prison in Chino, California, 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
"They are pure evil," Long said.
Long said that Suzan Carson didn't attend the hearing.
Her attorney Laura Sheppard confirmed the outcome of the hearing but had no further comment.
The Carsons qualified for parole consideration after a federal court concerned with prison overcrowding ordered hearings for about 1,400 inmates older than 60 who have served more than 25 years of their sentences.
Michael Carson canceled his parole hearing in June, saying he refuses to renounce his violent religious beliefs. He is scheduled for parole review in five years.
"I know this is absurd," Michael Carson wrote prison officials from Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, California, on a form formally canceling his hearing. "No one is going to parole me because I will not and have not renounced my beliefs."
The killers' chance at freedom has upset families of their victims, who say the self-described vegetarian Muslim "warriors" have never expressed remorse or abandoned beliefs that they were on a "holy war against witches" during their killing spree.
"Witchcraft, homosexuality and abortion are causes for death," said bearded, long-haired Michael Carson during a 1983 "press conference" arranged by investigators with San Francisco media that lasted five hours.
Authorities allowed the jailhouse interview in exchange for incriminating information about the three murders. With his wife smiling by his side, Carson described her as "a yogi and a mystic with knowledge of past, present and future events." The couple described themselves as Muslim.
Suzan Carson told reporters she ordered her husband to kill Karen Barnes in her San Francisco apartment in 1981 because she falsely converted to their religion and was "draining" Suzan of her health and "yogic powers." The couple killed twice more in California before capture in 1983.
Since February 2014, 267 elderly inmates have been granted parole and 729 have been denied, according to the department. An additional 450 hearings have been cancelled or postponed.
Despite the odds against the couple's release, Michael Carson's daughter is aiding the families and formally opposes her father's release as well. "They are still dangerous," she said.
Jennifer Carson said her college-educated dad was a stay-at-home father caring for her in 1970s suburban Phoenix while her mother supported the family by teaching.
"I remember those times as very happy times," Jennifer said. "But then his behavior began to change."
She said her father changed dramatically after he met Suzan Carson at a party. The couple soon divorced their respective spouses and married each other.
Jennifer Carson said her father and Suzan were heavy drug users who created their own moral and religious code. "It was like a match meeting dynamite," she said of the day the couple met.