For the second year in a row, former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten was granted parole Wednesday by a state parole board, but the recommendation will ultimately be forwarded to the governor, who rejected her bid for release last year.
Van Houten, now 68, was convicted of murder and conspiracy for participating with fellow Manson family members Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel in the Aug. 9, 1969, killings of Leno La Bianca, 44, and his 38-year-old wife, Rosemary, who were each stabbed multiple times.
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.
A state parole board had recommended in April 2016 that Van Houten — who had previously been denied parole 19 times between 1979 and 2013 — be paroled.
But Gov. Jerry Brown subsequently rejected parole two months later, finding that “the evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.”
Wednesday’s parole recommendation, reached following a hearing at the California Institution for Women in Corona, begins a 150-day review process. According to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, a review of legal issues will be conducted during the first 120 days, and if the recommendation stands, it will be sent to the governor, who has 30 days to uphold, reverse or modify the decision, or send it back to the full Board of Parole Hearings for a more thorough review.
Van Houten’s appellate attorney has vowed to continue to fight for Van Houten’s release.
During an evidentiary hearing in downtown Los Angeles last week, a woman who once lived at a ranch with Manson testified that Van Houten was “extremely docile” before the 1969 La Bianca killings, and that she believed Van Houten would have done anything the cult leader asked.
“Do you know if Leslie succumbed to Manson’s control?” Van Houten’s latest attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, asked Catherine Share.
“Do I know? I believe so. Because she was extremely docile at the time and anything he said she would just do,” Share replied. “The thing with me is I would sometimes hesitate or say something back.”
Share’s testimony was allowed under a state law allowing the presentation of mitigating evidence because Van Houten was 19 at the time of the killings.
–City News Service