Appellate Court Hears Oral Arguments in Van Houten Case

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

Apr. 24 – An appellate court panel today heard arguments regarding Leslie Van Houten’s writ of Habeas Corpus challenging Jerry Brown’s reversal of her September 2017 parole recommendation.

Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, sought the hearing because he felt Brown’s decision was not well supported and relied on isolated negative factors to conclude that Van Houten posed an unreasonable risk if released. The state’s Attorney General’s office argued in support of Brown, stating Van Houten’s case is a rare instance where the heinousness of the crime continues to offer evidence of her current dangerousness.

According to Pfeiffer, much of the hearing was spent discussing the Tex tapes and whether they should be released. Pfeiffer reasoned that since the basis of Brown’s denial revolved around the commitment offense, it made Charles “Tex” Watson’s 1969 account all that more relevant to Van Houten’s case.

The three judge panel ordered briefs be filed on whether Governor Newsom’s upcoming decision on Van Houten’s 2019 parole recommendation would make this case moot.

The court will have 90 days to publish an opinion.

UPDATED on 4/29 to include briefs ordered by the court.

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37 Responses to Appellate Court Hears Oral Arguments in Van Houten Case

  1. Gina says:

    If people want to know what’s in the Tex tapes, read his book “Would You Die for Me” the chaplain who paid over $ 40,000.00 (that’s the price given in Tex’ lawsuit that was paid for them) Since he used the tapes to write the book, maybe it’s in it.

  2. Pam says:

    I hope they keep this butcher in prison for the rest of her life.

  3. Cybele Moon says:

    who knows? Rich Pfeiffer is hopeful but a criminal law professor says the courts are often unwilling to overturn governor decisions etc. It may still lie in the hands of Newsome. Time will tell. It doesn’t look like they are going to make a quick decision.

  4. NoJusticeNoPeace says:

    Isn’t it so wonderful for the families of this murderous bitch to have the “legal” privilege to repeat the same shit year after God damn year? Sure it is…but hey, LVH is SO REPENTANT.

    Look. It. Up.

    Try your best to actually ACKNOWLEDGE what HER actions were, without blaming Manson…Not blaming Manson, blah blah blah.


    I want to see every last murdering one of them (Manson butt munching MURDERERS) to get their toe tag parole.

    Same tag she placed on HER victims.

  5. Robin Olson says:

    No judge or governor wants to risk being overturned. At 74 the suggestion of Leslie’s future dangerousness is ridiculous. As a “Manson follower” she has been branded for life. In other countries she would not have served near this amount of time. Steven Kay was actually quoted as saying, “She will be released by the age of 40.”

  6. Alexander S Hill says:

    Courts in California have been making rulings on governor parole reversals for decades. These judges are just full of it.

  7. Cybele Moon says:

    I think because of the opinion of most people regarding this case, the court is not going to rule easily or quickly. After all there is such a thing as “we the people.” It is not her current dangerousness physically that is the issue. It’s the psychological factor and what she stood for and the heinousness of the crime I would think. Also she is 69 not 74. We shall see.

  8. Columbo says:

    Newsom is a very busy man. He’s busy making sure his entire state goes against the Federal government and that the entire state is a sanctuary for illegal aliens. He’s busy making sure the citizens of his state are exposed to as much crime as possible from the illegals he allows into his state, and that taxpayers pay for their schooling, care and welfare. Yet, we’re supposed to believe that the only person that’s dangerous is 69 year old LVH.

    Newsom is busy making sure thousands of illegals and homeless people across the state aren’t held accountable for crapping and pissing in the streets of his state.

    Newsom is busy making sure hundreds of thousands of hypodermic needles are passed out by the state to the drug addicts across the state, so that they can publicly shoot up in front of school children. And he’s busy making sure the addicts and illegals aren’t held responsible for throwing hundreds of thousands of those needles on the streets of the cities in California.

    But one thing he’s NOT going to do is his job. He’s not going to follow the recommendations of parole board members because he’s too busy playing politics. Liberals don’t do what’s right, they just play politics and try to stay in power.

    No, things aren’t looking very good for Leslie. The 3 judge panel is trying to shirk their responsibility and kick the can down the road. And if it comes down to the liberal Newsom, who loves to take up the fight for illegals and murderers (except the Manson followers, of course), then Leslie might as well start planning for her next parole hearing in a year or two.

    The people of California deserve as much trouble and crap as possible for continuing to elect the fools they do. The fools they elect do as much as possible to get around the law and to make life in their state as hard as possible for the citizens.

  9. Columbo says:

    Oh, I forgot one!

    Newsom is busy making sure the murderers in his state are NEVER put to death! NO DEATH PENALTY IN CALIFORNIA, so sayeth Gavin Newsom! He is busy giving his middle finger to the family members who are waiting to see justice done after their loved ones were murdered.

    But no justice for Leslie! That’s the logic liberals follow! Sure, she’s paid her dues and she’s not dangerous, but Newsom has more political races to win, and that’s the only thing that’s important.

    Ever wonder why liberals are always quick to punish the law-abiding citizens of their state (with sky-high taxes and ridiculous environmental regulations), but then they go out of their way to defend murderers, illegal aliens and drug addicts who break the law? Exactly where is the logic in that?

    But the thing that’s the most illogical of all is that the citizens of California keep ELECTING people like Newsom. The people ELECT people who don’t respect them and politicians that make their life harder. So they deserve as much hardship as possible.

  10. Cybele Moon says:

    but Colombo, Isn’t Leslie one of those murderers being defended too?

    No one is ever happy with whomever they elect. “You can’t please all of the people all of the time” as they say.

  11. Peter says:

    Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. – H. L. Mencken

  12. Cybele Moon says:

    Can anyone explain to me as an outsider, why there is such a bitter wedge between republicans and democrats? It does seem that California is more a democrat state. Also didn’t the people vote for the option of having a governor have the last word in paroles? What are “ridiculous” environmental regulations? As for the death penalty ruling in California, Colombo mentioned that victim’s families are being given the finger. Did the Manson victim’s families also suffer that when the death penalty was briefly overturned. Will that go to a vote. As for Health Care issue isn’t that a proposal that has to be voted on as well.

  13. Peter says:

    Because as long as we are busy fighting each other, the state and federal governments can keep growing, increasing the opportunities for graft for the leaders of both parties.

  14. Okanahan says:

    It’s really too bad that one has to add a political rant to an otherwise interesting forum.

  15. Peter says:

    In fairness, if Leslie from Altadena was Lecilda from Ecuador, she would already be back on the street.

    Just sayin’

  16. Cybele Moon says:

    Peter, I don’t know if you are right about that but The Manson murders certainly had far reaching ramifications- socio-political-psychological etc, happening as it did in the anti establishment movement of the time and the hippie peace movement, a revolutionary music scene, along with the fame of the victims (and also other famous names connected) ,the horrifying thought of middle class children becoming rabid murderers, the gruesome and merciless crimes themselves, and the idea that where did we as a society go wrong. Philosophically to me it’s as though all these strange events converged together into a horrible fateful culmination. Just thinking.

  17. Peter says:

    I just want her to get out so she can go to the Once Upon a Time premier with John Waters.

  18. Alexander S Hill says:

    I doubt she will ever watch that. I’m sure she is sick of the topic.

  19. Pam says:

    I find it quite fascinating when people have more concern for killers than the victims and the long term damage they do
    They don’t understand the pain and suffering might be more important than Leslie seeing a movie. The killer has become the victim of a great injustice.

  20. Peter says:

    It’s possible to have concern for both. And its possible to be both a killer and a victim of a great injustice.

  21. NoJusticeNoPeace says:

    Yeah Peter, it’s called being a murderer who is a victim of their victim.

    Or justice.

    What evah.

  22. Pam says:

    You and Susan Atkins made the same argument when she called herself a “political prisoner”. The same person who help butcher a baby in his mother belly and spoke about the “hatred” of her victim’s relatives for her. And Leslie is the same, a “victim of the system” Truth is LVH chose to be a cold blooded killer and needs to die in prison like Manson and Atkins

  23. Columbo says:

    Do you know what “political prisoner” is referring to? Apparently not, or you wouldn’t waste time bringing up the crimes she was sentenced to prison for (but NOT for life….which is very important).

    Being a “political prisoner” is simply a person who is STILL in prison, even though they have met the state’s criteria for release. And in Leslie’s case, she met the criteria for release LONG ago!

    Another way some define being a “political prisoner” is when the person is STILL in prison when others that were found guilty of the same crime (or worse) have been paroled in the state of California… some cases NUMEROUS years prior.

    California’s criteria for parole should be fair and consistent across the prison population. Why would anyone disagree with that? The problem is that it’s NOT fair and consistent across the prison population.

    The ONLY reason Leslie is still in prison is because it just so happens that she was associated with the Manson group. Even the prosecutors predicted that, based on what she actually DID, she would probably be out of prison around 40 years of age. Well…29 years later, she’s STILL in prison.

    And that’s ONLY because she’s a “political prisoner”. There’s simply no debating the issue. She has been paroled by the Board multiple times, yet, she is STILL in prison. Why?

    Therefore, not only is she a “political prisoner,” she is also receiving “cruel and unusual punishment,” which is against the law.

    When people continue to maintain she should die in prison, they aren’t even arguing the facts of the case. When people say such things they are simply giving their personal opinion of what should happen. But Leslie IS eligible for parole. Her sentence is NOT “life without parole”. Therefore, depending on a variety of variables, she IS eligible to be released.

    It’s as simple as that. Don’t know why there’s disagreement on the issue. She IS eligible for parole, and she has been a perfect prisoner for nearly 50 years. She should be paroled, based on the law, because there is no legitimate reason to still hold her.

  24. John Birr says:

    Peter, yes, I’ve made this point before. Of course, in this sad, decadent era known as the “Age of getting back at ‘whitey,'” having been a female in a group of commune-(ists) that also supposedly had some leader who was blamed for wanting to start a race war doesn’t help. The fact that it’s a media-driven lie shouldn’t surprise anyone though, either. If only she could claim she was of Mexican heritage, but, ah, too late. The damn Dutch don’t count for much. Nonetheless, Leslie ought to have been out years ago – having been significantly rehabilitated by the late 1970’s. The press back then thought she was a new woman when at her 77 and 78 trials. She was “poised,” and “intelligent,” and likely had been victimized in many ways herself. But, then, alas, came the cable TV “documentaries,” the unending references to Charlie, and significantly, the sudden, new incursion of victims’ family members being allowed to get significant camera time at parole hearings… yet I still say she will be out…eventually!

  25. Pam says:

    John, please don’t play the race card. Leslie’s race has nothing to do with her still being in prison.

  26. Christy says:

    Well, since Newsom gave the finger to the entire state by suspending the death penalty maybe we should remember LVH WAS sentenced to death and the ONLY reason she now has life with the possibility of parole was there was no life without when the Supreme Court ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. After that it was reinstated along with adding life without parole. But there was no way LVH was going to get either death or life without after she was convicted a second time.

    So in regards to LVH the governor IS following the will of the people to the best of his ability. They wanted her put to death. They couldn’t give her life without so this is the next best thing.

    Sorry Columbo. But you’re way off base with this. And if living here bothers you so much there are plenty of conservative states you can move to. Much cheaper cost of living and you won’t have to worry about boogie man liberals.

  27. Christy says:

    Oh and you won’t have to worry about pesky environmental laws either.

  28. says:

    Christy, life without parole was a sentencing option by the time Leslie was convicted at her third trial. But it was not a sentencing option for her because it did not exist when the crime was committed. You cannot be sentenced to something that doesn’t exist when you commit a crime.

    When Van Houten was sentenced in 1978, the judge stated he gave consideration to giving her probation. So It’s doubtful he would’ve sentenced her to life without parole even if it had been an available sentence for her

  29. Ben Gurecki says:

  30. Cybele Moon says:

    Columbo, Christy, Pam et al, interesting topic always!
    Justice is only a concept after all. The brutal concept of justice in some countries is horrifying to us. Those who are arguing for the law as it stands in California are understandable in those terms. I do get that.

    Am I sympathetic to LVH. No, not really. It won’t bother me if she remains incarcerated forever. Do I believe in redemption, yes I do and I don’t believe in the death penalty. Yet, was I sorry when a pedophile murderer was put to death? No, I thought he deserved it for the suffering he caused to the innocent. It’s all so complicated. I felt sympathy for the teenage girl who was sentenced to life without parole in another horrifying murder case. She had a sad life of abuse and poverty. She was diagnosed with a mental illness very early on (13) and deemed a danger to herself and/or others but… insurance wouldn’t pay for long term treatment in a facility so she fell through the cracks and grew up very angry. But Leslie and Pat,- they had not been deprived and had options and choices in life. For this reason I just cannot drum up a lot of sympathy. So what is justice. It seems to depend in which state you are living and now it’s become part of the politics of whether you are a republican or democrat.

  31. Kelly says:

    No baby was butchered it’s a urban legend. Get your facts straight before you speak, also Tex Watson already said years ago that Susan Atkins didn’t kill or stab anyone, it was all him and Patricia Krenwinkle

  32. Star Blazers says:

    Susan, at least held Sharon Tate from behind when Tex stabbed her. Also, Susan tied up and stabbed the legs of Frykowski that same night slowing him down from running away from Tex who shot his twice, beat him over the head with the gun and then stabbed him dozens of times. In a separate murder, Susan held a pillow over the face of Gary Hinman while Bobby Beausoleil stabbed him to death.

  33. Christy says:

    Thanks for clarifying cielodrive. I wasn’t sure if it was legally possible to sentence her to life without because of that. I thought it probably wasn’t but I also figured even if it was a worm can would have been opened if it had been legally possible and she was sentenced to it.

  34. Christy says:

    Cybele, here it’s been a matter of politics for a long time. If you read about things that went on in the 60s during the civil rights era you will see it. But it’s always been there in some form or another.

    And I agree with you about Pat and Leslie. Neither grew up in abusive households. The only thing that seems to be life altering was their parents’ divorces. If there were other things neither have said it. I also don’t buy the brainwashing argument. Influence sure. But to kill people? No. The other thing that has always gotten to me was afraid to leave the family. Both were local, both already knew how to hitchhike and get around if necessary. Both could have gone home. Pat managed to go to Alabama after the murders so neither were unable to just leave beforehand. Especially Leslie who already knew of the Tate murders the previous night. And that last really bothers me.

  35. Christy says:

    Kelly, Watson says a lot of things. Susan did stab Frykowski in the legs, as Star Blazers notes, and she admitted to that. Leslie stabbed Mrs LaBianca. As far as we know Pat killed Abigail Folger only. But all were complicit in the murders.

    Yes, Watson committed most of the murders those two nights. Or he had a hand in all of them. But only three, Parent, Sebring and Mr. LaBianca, can be laid wholly at his feet. And even there it’s murky. My guess is only Steve Parent because he was immediately shot.

  36. Susie says:

    This is going to rub a lot of people the wrong way but what made those crimes sooo heinous was the attention whore lawyers and prosecutors and Hollywood itself. People get stabbed and shot all the time in California. 1 out of every 9 prisoners is serving life in California the majority of those people stabbed or shot someone. All murder is heinous and there is no way to measure it as far as the victims family members go. But to you Joe Public who didn’t even know these people, the only reason you are care, think you feel outrage, etc. is because the media has been manipulating you on this case for the last 50 years. And there have been many way more heinous murders that don’t get attention and no one cares. Jerry Brown knows better, he doesn’t think she’s a danger or that these were the worst murders in California but he knows you do.

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