Manson Family murderer Leslie Van Houten will be released from prison after Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he will not ask the state Supreme Court to block her recommendation for parole.
Van Houten, 73, was convicted in 1971 for her part in the grisly slayings of Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969. Van Houten admitted later to holding a pillowcase over Rosemary’s head as the victim was stabbed by other members of the Manson cult. Van Houten stabbed the woman herself over a dozen times, the Associated Press reported.
The LaBiancas were killed one day after other members of the Manson Family murdered heavily pregnant actress Sharon Tate and five others in her home on Cielo Drive in what has since been dubbed as the Helter Skelter killings.
— New York Post (@nypost) July 9, 2023
Van Houten was 19 years old at the time of her conviction and has spent over five decades in prison after her death sentence was commuted when California abolished capital punishment in 1972. Her parole comes after a California appeals court in May reversed a decision by Newsom to keep the convicted murderer in prison.
“The Governor is disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten but will not pursue further action as efforts to further appeal are unlikely to succeed,” Erin Mellon, communications director for the Office of the Governor, stated, according to CBS News. “The California Supreme Court accepts appeals in very few cases, and generally does not select cases based on this type of fact-specific determination,” Mellon continued.
The court opted to reverse the decision not to parole Van Houten after noting her “extraordinary rehabilitative efforts, insight, remorse, realistic parole plans, support from family and friends” and favorable behavior reports while in prison,” Fox News reported. (RELATED: Board Recommends Parole For Charles Manson Follower Who Murdered Several People)
Nancy Tetreault, Van Houten’s lawyer, stated her client was “thrilled” and “overwhelmed” by the news of her impending release. “She’s just grateful that people are recognizing that she’s not the same person that she was when she committed the murders,” Tetreault said, according to the outlet.
The news was less favorable to the surviving family members of the LaBiancas who are “heartbroken” over the decision.
“We’re once again reminded of all the years that we have not had my father and my stepmother with us,” Cory LaBianca, Leno LaBianca’s daughter, told The AP.
“My children and my grandchildren never got an opportunity to get to know either of them, which has been a huge void for my family.”
Van Houten is set to be released in about two weeks time after the parole board reviews her record and processes paperwork for her release from the California Institution for Women in Corona. Van Houten will then spend a year in a halfway house, learning to adjust to life outside of prison and being taught basic skills like how to use a computer and a debit card, Tetreault stated, according to The AP.