Former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten Friday lost her latest attempt to be released on parole, with a state appeals court panel declining to reverse former Gov. Jerry Brown’s rejection of her release.
Van Houten, 70, has been recommended for parole three times, but those recommendations have all been reversed — twice by Brown and once earlier this year by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
During oral arguments in June before a panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal, Van Houten attorney Rich Pfeiffer contended his client deserves to be released because she has been fully rehabilitated, is no longer a threat to anyone, has been a model prisoner and takes full responsibility for her crimes.
But Jill Alicia VanderBorght of the state Attorney General’s Office argued against Van Houten’s release, citing the “extreme gravity” of the crimes and her continued “minimization” of her role in them.
Van Houten, who is serving a life prison term, was convicted of murder and conspiracy for participating with fellow Manson family members Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel in the August 1969 killings of grocer Leno La Bianca, 44, and his 38-year-old wife, Rosemary, who were each stabbed multiple times in their Los Feliz home.
The former Monrovia High School cheerleader 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.
Manson died in November 2017 of natural causes while serving life in prison.
At the June appeals court hearing, Associate Justice Helen Bendix questioned whether Van Houten had expressed remorse for her crimes.
“I do know that she has expressed remorse at every single parole hearing,” Pfeiffer responded. “The hardest part for her is describing what she did … because she can’t undo it.”
But VanderBorght said she had not seen any remorse from the defendant.
Bendix authored the opinion rejecting Van Houten’s bid for release, with Presiding Justice Frances Rothschild concurring and Associate Justice Victoria Gerrard Chaney dissenting.
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