A California panel recommended Leslie Van Houten, the young member of Charles Manson’s former “family,” for parole on Wednesday.
Associated Press reports that the latest parole recommendation for 69-year-old Van Housen marks the third in more than 40 years the parole board has recommended her for a chance at freedom. She’s been behind bars since 1971 after she participated in the 1969 murders of wealthy California couple, Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary LaBianca.
The parole board’s recommendation doesn’t automatically mean Van Housen will be free. The decision is now in the hands of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has 150 days to review the case. Former California Gov. Jerry Brown rejected Van Houten’s parole recommendation twice in the past. Van Houten’s lawyer, Rich Pfeiffer, said it “will be much more difficult” for the new governor to block the inmate’s parole.
“She chose to go with Manson. She chose to listen to him. And she acknowledges that,” Pfeiffer said.
Brown previously indicated that too much blame was being place on Manson, although he did acknowledge Van Houten had a troubled background and committed the murders when she was young and impressionable.
During her last parole recommendation, Judge William C. Ryan indicated that there Van Houten’s release would “would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society,” given the extremely brutal way in which she and her four counterparts killed the LaBianca couple. The ruling came after Brown’s decision to reverse Van Houten’s parole. Afterward, Van Houten’s lawyer filed to overturn Brown’s decision, but Ryan ultimately sided with Brown.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, on August 9, 1969, Van Houten, along with four other members of the notorious “family” cult led by Manson, entered a home at 3301 Waverly Drive in Los Angeles, owned by the LaBianca couple. Under Manson’s directions, the family members tortured and stabbed the couple to death before writing “Death to Pigs” on a wall in the home, using the victims’ blood.
During her trial, Van Houten admitted she stabbed Rosemary LaBianca at least 14 times in the back. During her sentencing in 1971, Van Houten said “sorry is only a five-letter word” when asked if she felt remorse for taking part in the crime.
Van Houten apparently had a change of heart, or at least she claimed she did while trying to get parole in 2017.
“I take responsibility for the entire crime. I take responsibility going back to Manson being able to do what he did to all of us. I allowed it,” Van Houten said during a previous parole hearing. “I learned that I was weak in character. I was easy to give over my belief system to someone else.”
None of the people who took part in LaBianca murders have been released from prison.
[Feature Photo: Leslie Van Houten via AP/Nick Ut]