Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten one step closer to parole from life sentence

Charles Manson

LOS ANGELES (AP) — On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he would not seek to prevent the parole of Leslie Van Houten, a former follower of Charles Manson. This decision paves the way for her release, as she has served 53 years in prison for her involvement in two infamous murders.

In a brief statement, the governor’s office expressed disappointment, acknowledging the lasting impact felt by the victims’ families even after more than five decades since the brutal killings committed by the Manson cult.

At present, Leslie Van Houten, who is in her 70s, is serving a life sentence for her involvement in the 1969 murders of Leno LaBianca, a grocer from Los Angeles, and his wife, Rosemary. Her attorney, Nancy Tetreault, revealed that Van Houten might be released within approximately two weeks, pending a parole board review and necessary paperwork processing at the California Institution for Women in Corona.

Despite receiving parole recommendations five times since 2016, both Governor Newsom and former Governor Jerry Brown had previously denied Van Houten’s bid for release.

However, in May, a state appeals court ruled in favor of Van Houten’s release, citing her remarkable rehabilitation efforts, introspection, remorse, realistic parole plans, support from loved ones, and positive behavior reports during her time in prison.

Tetreault expressed Van Houten’s joy and overwhelm at the court’s decision, highlighting her client’s gratitude for the recognition that she has undergone significant personal growth since the time of the murders.

Upon her release, Van Houten will spend approximately one year in a halfway house, where she will acquire essential life skills, including grocery shopping, handling a debit card, and adjusting to technological advancements such as ATMs, cell phones, and computers. Tetreault emphasized that after spending 53 years in prison, Van Houten needs support to adapt to the rapidly changing world.

The LaBianca murders, during which Van Houten and other Manson followers smeared the victims’ blood on the walls, occurred in August 1969, just one day after the Manson followers killed actress Sharon Tate and four others. It is important to note that Van Houten did not participate in the Tate killings.

Manson himself passed away in prison in 2017 at the age of 83 due to natural causes, following nearly five decades of incarceration.

Cory LaBianca, the daughter of Leno LaBianca, expressed profound sadness and heartbreak, as she and her family have been deprived of their father and stepmother for all these years. She lamented that her children and grandchildren never had the opportunity to know them, creating an immense void in their lives.

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