Appeals court says NO to releasing Manson follower Leslie Van Houten

A California appeals court on Friday backed former Gov Jerry Brown’s decision to block parole for Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, according to an AP report in the Sacramento Bee.

Van Houten, 70, is serving a life sentence for her role in the stabbing deaths of Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969, a day after Manson family members — not including Van Houten, who was then 19 — killed actress Sharon Tate and four others.

Two of the three judge panel agreed with Brown’s “determination that Van Houten has not taken full responsibility for her role in the crimes, and continues to pose a risk to the public, is supported by some evidence in the record.” The third judge, however, wrote that “there is not a modicum of evidence” to support that conclusion.

California’s current governor, Gavin Newsom, denied Van Houten’s parole bid in June.

Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, said he would appeal the ruling. He has also filed an appeal to Newsom’s decision, saying that governor and the courts should give “great weight” to Van Houten’s age at the time of the crimes, her abusive relationship with Manson, and her current age.

Manson died of natural causes in 2017 while serving a life sentence.

Under Manson’s directions, the family members tortured and stabbed the LaBiancas 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 claimed she did while previously 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 the LaBianca murders have been released from prison.