California Supreme Court Has Bad News for Leslie Van Houten

Denies a potential bid for freedom from Manson Family member
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 10, 2021 12:25 AM CST
Updated Feb 11, 2022 12:03 AM CST
For 5th Time, Parole Panel Recommends Leslie Van Houten's Release
This May 5, 2020, photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten.   (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP)

Update: The California Supreme Court has denied a potential bid for freedom by Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten following Gov. Gavin Newsom's two rejections of her parole, the AP reports. The court on Wednesday refused to hear Van Houten's appeal of a lower court ruling last December that denied her petition for a review. That petition challenged what it termed a denial of due process by Newsom in reversing a 2020 parole board recommendation. Since 2016, parole boards have recommended five times that Van Houten be freed from prison. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown and Newsom have blocked her parole four times. The fifth recommendation came last November and remains under procedural review. Our original story from Nov. 10 follows:

A California parole panel on Tuesday recommended for the fifth time that Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten be freed from prison, decisions previously rejected by two governors. A two-person panel of parole commissioners first recommended in April 2016 that she be freed. But her release has been consistently blocked, twice by then-Gov. Jerry Brown and twice by Gov. Gavin Newsom, both Democrats. The latest recommendation is likely headed back to Newsom after a 120-day procedural review, the AP reports. Van Houten is still challenging Newsom's rejection of her parole a year ago in two courts, said her attorney, Rich Pfeiffer. Van Houten, 72, is serving a life sentence for helping Manson and other cult members kill Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969.

She was 19 when she and other followers fatally stabbed the LaBiancas and smeared their blood on the walls. The slayings came the day after other Manson followers, but not Van Houten, killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others. Pfeiffer said the commissioners on Tuesday addressed every reason governors have given for blocking her release the first four times, “which will make it more difficult for Governor Newsom to do it again, but he wants votes so I predict he will reverse this grant as well.” Newsom said last year that Van Houten still “poses an unreasonable danger to society” if released from the California Institution for Women in Riverside County outside Los Angeles.

(More Leslie Van Houten stories.)

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