"Son of Sam" serial killer David Berkowitz, who killed six people in the 1970s and claimed to be led by a demon, has turned down a parole hearing because he believes Jesus Christ has already forgiven and "set him free."
"Jesus has forgiven him and set him free," Berkowitz's lawyer, Mark J. Heller, said after he was denied parole last week at Sullivan Correctional Facility, NY Post's Page Six reported on Monday.
The convicted killer did not show up for his hearing because he is not seeking to leave prison, Heller explained. He has turned down all previous parole hearings as well.
"David told me that the reason he has never sought freedom from the parole board by attending parole hearings is because 'Jesus has already freed my heart, soul and mind and has forgiven me.' "
Berkowitz has said that he is a born-again Christian and that he has turned his life around, having spent almost 40 years in prison, serving six life sentences.
His killing spree in New York City between 1976 and 1977 ended with six people dead and another seven who were maimed. Berkowitz claimed that his neighbor's dog, named Sam, had told him to carry out the shootings, and later said that he was carrying out ritualistic murders for a Satanic cult, though no other people were found guilty of the crimes.
While in prison, 60-year-old Berkowitz reportedly joined the Jews for Jesus group. He is also said to have served at the Sullivan County prison as a minister's assistant.
During a 2012 interview, Berkowitz said that when he committed the murders he was "lost, tormented and confused." He revealed that he continues to pray for the victims. "I do wish them the best in life. But I'm sure the pain will never end for them. I regret that."
He added, "I have regrets about all the people I hurt, about what my life would have been like. I missed out on a lot. But God has given me peace about my situation."
In a 2011 letter, he commented about his refusal to appear at parole hearings, saying, "I have no interest in parole and no plans to seek release. If you could understand this, I am already a 'free man.' I am not saying this jokingly. I really am. Jesus Christ has already pardoned me, and I believe this."
His next hearing, which Berkowitz has given no indication that he is likely to attend, is scheduled for 2016.