Who is Leslie Van Houten? Charles Manson follower who butchered LA couple has parole blocked fourth time

Governo Gavin Newsom blocked the parole after Leslie Van Houten has spent about fifty years in prison


                            Who is Leslie Van Houten? Charles Manson follower who butchered LA couple has parole blocked fourth time
Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie van Houton (Getty Images)

One of Charles Manson's followers who was involved in cult killings in Los Angeles in 1969, has now had her request for parole denied for the fourth time. Leslie Van Houten has spent almost five decades in prison and had been recommended for parole by a California panel in July earlier this year. California Governor Gavin Newsom has reversed the decision to free Leslie with the latest incident marking the fourth time that her parole has been blocked. Her attorney Rich Pfeiffer shared that they would appeal against Newsom's decision and said, "This reversal will demonstrate to the courts that there is no way Newsom will let her out."

"Given the extreme nature of the crime in which she was involved, I do not believe she has sufficiently demonstrated that she has come to terms with the totality of the factors that led her to participate in the vicious Manson Family killings," Newsom had said.

"So they have to enforce the law or it will never be enforced," Pfeiffer added. Newsom said that in his decision "evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison." Pfeiffer had initially requested that Van Houten be released in May but the decision was overturned due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Newsom also shared that even though Leslie had a productive time in prison and earned a bachelor's as well as master's degree, and finished an 'extensive' self-help program, the negative factors of her involvement in the murders had outweighed any of the positive factors. Her first conviction had been overturned as her lawyer had died before the trial ended. She was tried two more times and was sentenced to life in prison post a 1978 guilty verdict. Newsom shared that he understood that Leslie was 19 at the time of her crime and that it was possible that her involvement in the killings was "significantly impacted" by youth factors. 

He said, "Before she can be safely released, Ms. Van Houten must do more to develop her understanding of the factors that caused her to seek acceptance from such a negative, violent influence, and perpetrate extreme acts of wanton violence." This is now her 23rd appeal and also the fourth time that the board has deemed Leslie suitable for release though it has been blocked by former Governor Jerry Brown and once by Newsom. 

Leslie is currently serving out a life sentence for helping Manson and others kill a Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in August 1969. She was 19 years old when she had committed the crime along with other cult members and had smeared walls with the dead couple's blood. The incident of LaBianca's murder had come a day after Manson's followers had killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others. Manson died in the year 2017 of natural causes at a California hospital while serving a life sentence at the age of 83 years old.

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