Charles Manson in 2011. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Charles Manson in 2011. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

One of Charles Manson’s killer sidekicks will have to wait up to four months to find out if the state parole board will finalize her parole, and then it’ll be up to Gov. Jerry Brown to decide if she’ll really be set free.

A state parole board panel has found that former Charles Manson disciple Leslie Van Houten — who was convicted of the August 1969 killings of grocers Leno and Rosemary La Bianca at their Los Feliz home — is suitable for parole.

Van Houten, now 66, had been denied parole numerous times between 1979 and 2013, according to state prison officials. As before, prosecutors and family members of the victims vehemently opposed a possible parole.

The panel’s Thursday decision will be reviewed administratively by the state’s Board of Parole Hearings for up to 120 days, then be sent to Brown for his review.

In January, the governor rejected a state parole board panel’s August 2015 recommendation for parole for another Manson follower, Bruce Davis. Davis was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy for the July 25, 1969, stabbing death of musician Gary Hinsman in his Topanga Canyon home and the killing of Donald “Shorty” Shea, who was last seen alive on Aug. 27, 1969.

Van Houten was convicted of murder and conspiracy for participating with fellow Manson family members Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel in the Aug. 9, 1969, slayings of grocers Leno and Rosemary La Bianca at their Los Feliz home.

Van Houten was sentenced to death, but re-sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that the death penalty was unconstitutional.

Van Houten has acknowledged her role in the La Bianca murders, admitting at an August 2004 parole hearing that she stabbed Rosemary La Bianca 14 to 16 times after the woman had been stabbed by Watson and Krenwinkel.

At earlier hearings, Van Houten said she believed La Bianca already was dead at the time, and said it was “very hard” to “look back on the behavior of who I was at 19.”

The former Monrovia High School cheerleader and homecoming princess did not participate in the Manson family’s killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in a Benedict Canyon mansion the night before.

In 2013, a state parole board panel denied parole to Van Houten and ordered another hearing in five years. But the Board of Parole Hearings agreed to advance the hearing after Van Houten — who is behind bars at the California Institution for Women in Corona — filed a petition last September citing the self-help programs and other work she has done to address the concerns stated by the panel in its 2013 decision to deny her parole.

Manson and many of his other former followers, who have repeatedly been denied parole, remain behind bars.

Onetime Manson family member Susan Atkins died in September 2009, about three weeks after a state parole board panel rejected her plea for a “compassionate release” from prison because of brain cancer.

–City News Service

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