Court denies release for Manson follower Leslie Van Houten
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A California appeals court on Friday denied the latest parole bid by Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten.
Two of the three appellate judges upheld former Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to block her parole last year. She is serving a life sentence for helping Manson and others kill Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969.
“The Governor’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 judges ruled. They did not adopt Brown’s other conclusion that her crimes alone provided enough reason to keep her in prison at age 70.
Van Houten was 19 when she and other cult members fatally stabbed the LaBiancas, carved up Leno LaBianca’s body and smeared the couple’s blood on the walls.
The slayings came the day after other Manson followers, not including Van Houten, killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others.
Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, said he’ll appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. He said current laws require that her youth then, her age now and her abusive relationship with Manson all must be given “great weight” in deciding whether she should be freed.
The third appellate judge also cited those standards in concluding that “there is not a modicum of evidence” to support the conclusion that she is still dangerous.
Current Gov. Gavin Newsom again denied Van Houten’s parole in June, saying she is still a threat. Pfeiffer has a separate appeal of that decision awaiting a lower court’s consideration.
He also plans to sue a third time, arguing that corrections officials are required to recommend that she be resentenced because of her age then and now, and her abusive relationship.
“I expected her to go home within a week or two, I really did. And that’s not happening,” he said after Friday’s ruling. “Two things you can bank on: She’s gonna get out, and I’m not giving up until she does.”
Manson died in 2017 of natural causes at a California hospital while serving a life sentence.