Leslie Van Houten. Photo via Wikipedia Commons
Leslie Van Houten. Photo via Wikipedia Commons

Leslie Van Houten, a member of the murderous Manson Family, cannot now be released from prison on parole, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has ruled.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan issued an 18- page ruling Thursday upholding Governor Jerry Brown’s reversal earlier in the year of a parole board’s decision to release Van Houten, the Los Angeles Times reported.

There is “some evidence” that Van Houten still presents an unreasonable threat to society, Ryan wrote, adding that he respects Brown’s broad discretion in such decisions.

Now 67 and living at a women’s prison in Chino, Van Houten was convicted of first-degree murder in 1978 and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

“There’s no question that if the word ‘Manson’ was not involved in her crimes, she would have been paroled 20 years ago,” Richard Pfeiffer, Van Houten’s attorney, said in remarks reported by The Times. He said he plans  to appeal Ryan’s decision.

On Aug. 9, 1969, Manson cult members murdered five people, including Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski. Van Houten didn’t participate in the initial killings but the next night was involved in the murders of of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca.

Van Houten, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees behind bars, has asked to be released on parole but was denied 19 times before a two-person panel in April granted her request.

Although the crime was “atrocious, cruel and monstrous,” the panel ruled that Van Houten “no longer posed an unreasonable risk of danger to society.” The commissioners cited her “sterling” prison record, her age at the time of the crime — she was 19 — and Manson’s powers of manipulation.

Cory LaBianca, who was 21 when her father and stepmother were slain, told The Times in April that she strongly opposed Van Houten’s release.

Charles Manson, 81, and other members of the cult remain in prison.

—City News Service

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