The office of California Governor Gavin Newsom declared on Friday (7 July) that it would not appeal a state appellate court panel decision from May that allowed Leslie Van Houten, a former Charles Manson devotee and convicted murderer, to be considered for parole.
After being found guilty in 1971 for her part in the murders of supermarket CEO Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, at their home, Van Houten is currently incarcerated and serving concurrent terms ranging from seven years to life.
“More than 50 years after the Manson family carried out these heinous crimes, the victims’ families and all Californians continue to be affected. Since taking office, Governor Newsom has revoked Ms. Van Houten’s parole three times and has defended against her legal challenges of those decisions, according to a statement from the governor’s spokeswoman, Erin Mellon.
The Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten disappointed the Governor, but he or she decided against taking any more action because a successful appeal was unlikely. The statement continues, “The California Supreme Court accepts appeals in a very small number of cases and typically does not pick cases based on this type of fact-specific assessment.
“She’s just thankful that her recovery, her diligent struggle to change the way she thinks, and her comprehension of the causal circumstances that caused her to be influenced by Manson… She appreciates the court of appeals’ acknowledgment of it, Tetreault added.
Van Houten will be released on parole contingent upon a final behavioral hearing; the precise date will be kept private for her safety.
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Initially Given a Death Penalty
When Van Houten, who is now in her 70s, first encountered Manson, she was 19 years old. She then joined the deadly cult that became known as the “Manson Family.”
The horrifying murders started on August 9, 1969, at the residence of actress Sharon Tate and her famous film director husband Roman Polanski. At the time, he had left the nation. The first victims included Tate, who was eight months pregnant, Jay Sebring, a famous hairstylist, Abigail Folger, a writer, Wojciech Frykowski, and Steven Parent, the family’s caretaker’s friend.
The LaBiancas were fatally stabbed at their residence the next night. Manson did not commit any of the murders, despite having ordered them. Indicted in December 1969 for the deaths of Tate, her companions, and the LaBianca murders were Van Houten, Manson, and his followers Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins, and Patricia Krenwinkel.
Van Houten was found guilty and given the death penalty; however, California later repealed the death penalty, and her sentence was reduced to life in prison. In 1977, she first qualified for parole. In 2022, Krenwinkel was refused parole once more. She has a hearing scheduled for November 17 as per the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation hearing schedule.
Watson will be eligible for parole once more in 2026 after 18 rejections. 2009 saw the death in custody of Atkins. Manson passed away in 2017.
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