Governor Brown Reverses Leslie Van Houten’s Parole Grant

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

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GOVERNOR BROWNS RULING ON LESLIE VAN HOUTEN’S PAROLE RECOMMENDATION

Jul. 22 – Governor Jerry Brown has reversed Leslie Van Houten’s April 14th parole recommendation. The ruling was sent out by Brown’s press secretary late Friday, and reads as follows.

In the late summer of 1968, 19-year-old Leslie Van Houten met Charles Manson and began living at Spahn Ranch. She was one of the youngest members of his cult, known as “the Family.” Manson believed that a civilization-ending war between the races Helter Skelter was imminent, and that the Family would emerge from hiding in the desert at the end of the war to take control of the world. By 1969, the Family’s members, including Van Houten, ardently embraced Manson’s apocalyptic and warped worldview. According to former Family member Barbara Hoyt, “preparing for Helter Skelter physically, mentally, financially was the all- pervasive fabric of Manson Family daily life.” They went “creepy crawling” at night, committing auto thefts and residential burglaries, in preparation for Helter Skelter and the Family’s relocation to the desert. Manson eventually came to believe that the Family would have to trigger the race war by committing atrocious, high-profile murders of white victims to incite retaliatory violence against black people. See People v. Manson (1976) 61 Cal.App.3d 102, 127-30. At some point, Manson approached Van Houten and asked her “if she was crazy enough to believe in him and what he was doing.” She responded, “Yes.”

On August 9, 1969, several Family members carried out the gruesome murders of Abigail Folger, Wojiciech Frykowski, Jay Sebring, Steven Parent, and the eight-month pregnant Sharon Tate. Van Houten did not participate in the Tate murders, but she heard about them the next day from the news and Family members and reported that she felt “left out.”

On August 10, 1969, Manson instructed Van Houten and other Family members that the murders the previous night had been “too messy.” Manson told them they were going out again that night and he would show them how it should be done. As instructed by Manson, Van Houten took a change of clothes with her in case her clothes got bloody. At Manson’s direction, Linda Kasabian drove Manson, Van Houten, Charles “Tex” Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, and Steve Grogan around for hours, making stops to allow Manson to locate potential murder victims. The group eventually stopped at the home of Rosemary and Leno LaBianca.

Manson entered the LaBianca home, tied up the couple, and returned to the car with Mrs. LaBianca’s wallet. His plan was to plant the wallet in an area with a large African-American population so they would be blamed for the murders, which in turn would initiate the race war. Manson told Van Houten, Krenwinkel, and Watson to go into the house.

Once inside the LaBianca home, Watson told Van Houten and Krenwinkel to take Mrs. LaBianca into her bedroom and kill her. Krenwinkel retrieved knives from the kitchen and gave one to Van Houten. Van Houten put a pillowcase over Mrs. LaBianca’s head and wrapped a lamp cord around her neck. Mrs. LaBianca could hear the guttural sounds of her husband being stabbed to death by Watson in the other room. She grabbed the lamp and tried to escape, but Van Houten knocked the lamp out of her hands and wrestled her back to the bed. Van Houten then pinned Mrs. LaBianca down while Krenwinkel stabbed her. Krenwinkel stabbed Mrs. LaBianca with so much force that the knife blade bent on Mrs. LaBianca’s collarbone. Van Houten summoned Watson for assistance, and he came in the room with a bayonet. Watson stabbed Mrs. LaBianca several times with the bayonet and then handed a knife to Van Houten and told her to “do something.” Van Houten said she “felt” Mrs. LaBianca was dead at that point, but she “didn’t know for sure.” She continued stabbing Mrs. LaBianca at least 16 times. Mrs. LaBianca was stabbed a total of 41 times according to autopsy reports. Mr. LaBianca had 13 stab wounds, in addition to scratches, and 14 puncture wounds from a carving fork which was left sticking out of his stomach. A knife was also found protruding from his neck. The word “War” was scratched on his stomach.

After the murders, Van Houten thoroughly wiped away fingerprints from the house while Krenwinkel painted “Death to the Pigs” on a wall in the living room, “Rise” over a door, and “Healter (sic) Skelter” on a refrigerator door using Mr. LaBianca’s blood. Van Houten changed into Mrs. LaBianca’s clothes and drank chocolate milk from the LaBianca’s refrigerator before leaving. Back at Spahn Ranch, she burned Mrs. LaBianca’s clothes and counted the money taken from the home. According to Family member Dianne Lake, Van Houten told her that “she had stabbed a woman who was already dead, and that the more she did it the more fun it was.”

While the residents of Los Angeles and the surrounding areas remained in terror, Van Houten hid out for over two months at a remote location in Death Valley hoping to seek refuge in the “bottomless pit” and fulfill Manson’s prophecy. She was not arrested until November 25, 1969.

GOVERNING LAW

The question I must answer is whether Van Houten will pose a current danger to the public if released from prison. The circumstances of the crime can provide evidence of current dangerousness when the record also establishes that something in the inmate’s pre- or post- incarceration history, or the inmate’s current demeanor and mental state, indicate that the circumstances of the crime remain probative of current dangerousness. (In re Lawrence (2008) 44 Cal. 4th 1181, 1214.) In rare circumstances, the aggravated nature of the crime alone can provide a valid basis for denying parole even when there is strong evidence of rehabilitation and no other evidence of current dangerousness. (Id. at pp. 1211, 1214.)

DECISION

The Board of Parole Hearings found Van Houten suitable for parole based on her age at the time of the crime, length of incarceration, lack of violent crime as an adult, educational and vocational accomplishments, self-help programming, lack of disciplinary history, credibility, detailed relapse prevention plan, “tremendous” level of insight, acceptance of responsibility, remorse, consistent risk assessments placing her at a minimal risk of violence, and parole plans.

Van Houten was only 19 years old when she perpetrated these heinous murders. Accordingly, I must give great weight to her “diminished culpability… as compared to adults,” “hallmark features of youth,” and “subsequent growth and increased maturity.” (Pen. Code, § 4801, subd. (c).) The record reveals that prior to joining the Manson Family, Van Houten led a “privileged” life. She reported being raised “comfortably” in the middle class by her father, an automobile auctioneer, and her mother, a homemaker. She sang in the choir at her Presbyterian church, went to the youth fellowship, and enjoyed church camp every summer. In high school, several classmates described Van Houten as “popular.” She was homecoming princess twice, class secretary, and a participant in Campfire Girls and Job’s Daughters. She was tested and found to have “a superior I.Q. in the top five percent of the United States.” She also began to experience some instability in her life following her parents’ divorce when she was 14. She reported that her parents’ relationship was “mismatched” and her mother “married down” and was “embarrassed” by her father’s drinking. Following the divorce, Van Houten indicated that she felt abandoned by her father and angry with her mother. She rebelled by using drugs and had a self-induced abortion sometime during the second trimester of her pregnancy at age 17. However, even after this, she was able to graduate from high school. She attended a business college for a year and became a certified legal secretary. Shortly after receiving her certification, Van Houten went to San Francisco where she met fellow Family members, Bobby Beausoleil and Catherine Share. She traveled throughout the state with them before ultimately moving to Spahn Ranch. She lived on the Ranch for nearly a year before the Tate-LaBianca murders.

Van Houten has now been incarcerated for 46 years. She is 66 years old and has made efforts to improve herself The psychologist who evaluated her in 2016 noted that during Van Houten’s imprisonment, she has “developed greater maturity, independence, and responsibility” and has “led a pro-social lifestyle.” She has never been disciplined for serious misconduct during her incarceration. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and has received exceptional work ratings as a tutor for the past decade. She also received positive commendations from staff She has participated in numerous self-help programs including Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, Victim Offender Education Group, and Emotions Anonymous. I carefully examined the record for evidence of her diminished culpability and youthful characteristics at the time of the crime, and her subsequent growth in prison. I gave these considerations great weight when assessing her suitability for parole. However, they are outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate she remains unsuitable for parole.

These exceptionally gruesome murders committed by Van Houten and the Manson Family remain some of the most notorious crimes in American history. As the sentencing judge stated, “[T]his case is a special one. It will burn in the public consciousness for a long period of time.” The crimes abruptly put an end to an era defined by the “Summer of Love” and the hippie movement, replacing ideas of peace and love with widespread fear and panic throughout California that reverberated long after the murders. The shocking nature of the crimes left an indelible mark on society. The motive to trigger a civilization-ending race war by slaughtering innocent people chosen at random is equally disturbing. While the murders at the Tate and LaBianca residences are the most well-known murders committed by the Manson Family, members of the Family are also responsible for other murders including Gary Hinman and Donald “Shorty” Shea. There is no indication that Van Houten was part of these murders; however, she played a central role in the LaBianca murders. She chose to enter the LaBianca home, brutally stabbed Mrs. LaBianca numerous times, and then helped clean up the scene and dispose of evidence. The devastation and loss experienced by the LaBianca family and all the victims’ families continues to affect their lives to this day. As our Supreme Court has acknowledged, in rare circumstances, a crime is so atrocious that it provides evidence of current dangerousness by itself

But the murders alone are not the only evidence that Van Houten remains unsuitable for parole. Van Houten’s explanations for why she joined the Manson Family and her willingness to engage in violence do not account for the gravity of her crimes. When asked by the psychologist in 2016 about her choice to join the Family and participate in its activities, Van Houten cited her lack of “real consequences” for her misbehavior growing up, feelings of abandonment by her father, anger towards her mother, the trauma of her abortion, her modest coping skills, and her substance abuse. She stated these made her vulnerable to manipulation by the “charismatic and pernicious personality” of Manson. She told the psychologist that when the Family’s focus shifted from drugs to violence, she expressed a desire to leave, but was “unable to” because Manson had taken a dominant role in her life and she felt powerless. She reported that she ultimately “surrendered to him.” At her 2016 hearing, Van Houten supplemented those explanations. She spoke about how life at the Ranch “had become a capsule, like we were isolated” and she did not “see a way out.” She explained that Manson’s established control combined with her drug use prevented her from questioning him. She said, “I wanted to surrender my life to someone. And I believed that he was an extraordinary person. And I didn’t believe I had or I didn’t see that I had alternatives.” With respect to her involvement in the LaBianca murders she told the psychologist, “I really wanted out and there was no way out.” She further told the Board she stabbed Mrs. LaBianca, “Because Tex told me to and I knew I needed to do something.” She stated that while Watson was stabbing Mrs. LaBianca she was “just staring” into the den and she “wasn’t really conscious.” She explained that she was in a state of disarray after the murders and “was pretty much following Tex’s lead” and “making sure that I did what he wanted me to do.”

Van Houten’s statements give the false impression that she was a victim who was forced into participating in the Family without any way out. As former Family member Barbara Hoyt explained at Van Houten’s 2013 hearing, the acceptance of new members into the Family “was a two-way street.” She observed that people “came and went at will” and said that she herself left twice. However, Van Houten never left. Van Houten admitted during cross-examination at trial that she liked being a member of the Family from the time she joined. She lived on the Ranch for nearly a year prior to the murders and participated in the “creepy crawling” outings. She fully subscribed to Manson’s ideas and supported the use of violence to further the Family’s goals. Even after her arrest and physical separation from Manson, she continued to endorse his beliefs by acting out in the courtroom, shaving her head, and placing an “X” on her forehead during trial to symbolize that she had “removed [herself] from society.”

Van Houten also characterizes herself as less culpable for her actions because she was merely following orders from others during the LaBianca murders. But she was far from a passive or unwilling participant. In a 2007 letter, Ms. Hoyt described, “There were several people who lived with the Manson family who despite believing that Charlie was Jesus Christ, that despite fearing the coming of the end of the world in Helter Skelter, despite the cult techniques of indoctrination chose not to harm others even if it meant not surviving Helter Skelter. There was also a group of family members who couldn’t wait to kill. Leslie was in the latter group.” Van Houten has admitted that she had thought about the possibility of killing someone for “quite a while” and had determined, after weighing the consequences, that she “could” kill another human being. She watched and listened carefully to demonstrations given by Manson about how to kill people. The morning after the Tate killings, she saw news coverage about the murders and talked to the perpetrators. She knew exactly what had happened and still begged to be a part of the murders that night. She entered the LaBianca’s home, “cognizant of her surroundings,” and made the choice to stab Mrs. LaBianca over and over. Then she covered up the crime scene by wiping away fingerprints, drank chocolate milk from the refrigerator, and changed into Mrs. LaBianca’s clothes before leaving. Back at the Ranch, Van Houten bragged about the murders by telling another member that stabbing was “fun.” These are not the actions of someone who was in a state of disarray and “wasn’t really conscious.” They are actions of someone who had trained to kill, weighed the consequences of her actions, and executed them. Even two years after the murders, when interviewed by a psychologist, Van Houten admitted that, although she had no present desire to kill anyone, she would have no difficulty doing it again.

It remains unclear how and why Van Houten drastically transformed from an exceptionally smart, driven young woman, class secretary and homecoming princess, to a member of one of the most notorious cults in history and an eager participant in the cold-blooded and gory murder of innocent victims aiming to provoke an all-out race war. Both her role in these extraordinarily brutal crimes and her inability to explain her willing participation in such horrific violence cannot be overlooked and lead me to believe she remains an unreasonable risk to society if released.

CONCLUSION

I have considered the evidence in the record that is relevant to whether Van Houten is currently dangerous. When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison. Therefore, I reverse the decision to parole Van Houten.

Decision Date: July 22, 2016
EDMUND G. BROWN JR.
Governor, State of California

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21 Responses to Governor Brown Reverses Leslie Van Houten’s Parole Grant

  1. Mark Ellis says:

    She has served her time and deserves to be released and given a second chance. There are other people out their who commit more murders than she and have served less time. Freedom For Leslie.

  2. Lee says:

    I’m sorry, but you don’t get a second chance after doing such a thing. There isn’t a “do over” after this. I think if Van Houten was a guy, they would think differently. How come nobody ever wants Tex Watson paroled? People seem to have a crush on this woman and still think of her as a cute girl who was just young & mixed up. The problem is, she CHOSE to kill, even when she saw how horrible the carnage was the night before at the Tate house and she still participated. No, I am sorry, but you don’t get a do over for something like this. I don’t care how cute she was.

  3. Eileen says:

    Her time served is irrelevant in my opinion. Prison is punitive first and foremost. Justice for the victims should always out weigh what a murderer accomplishes in prison. You cannot compare innocent lives horrifically slaughtered to attending controlled environment AA meetings and an all expenses paid education while incarcerated. There is and never will be a logical, equivalent comparison.

  4. Plunket says:

    Van Houten’s original sentence was death. “Her time” should be infinite.

  5. Lorraine Wise says:

    I am a Cristian above all other things. I do believe that everyone is forgiven pf sin through the death of our lord Jesus Christ for there sins. In this case I will never understand what would lead anyone to take the life of one of Gods children in the terrible way and glorify the death by carving words into someones body. I don’t care what Leslie was using to make her think that Charles Manson was Christ. There are no drugs on this earth that could make a human being that messed up to not now they where swimming in blood. The pictures I saw of the bodies from the coroners office where like nothing I could every imagine. The pain and suffering those people went through can never be erased in my mind. I am sorry for the family’s and the fear that we have all lived with for years just knowing that there are people in our society that crazy. I am glad that Leslie is sorry for what she did. But that does not excuse for the manner in the way she had no regard for the lives she took many years ago. I feel like this if it was me I could never expect anyone to feel sorry for me. Even though I had remorse and was a model inmate I could not allow myself to ever be free. I hope that the Governor will reconsider the magnitude of what he doing by overturning her parole. Rosemary and Leno will be a light of glory of the good things that God created.

  6. Lorraine Wise says:

    I am a Cristian above all other things. I do believe that everyone is forgiven of sin through the death of our lord Jesus Christ for our sins. In this case I will never understand what would lead anyone to take the life of one of Gods children in the terrible way and glorify the death by carving words into some one’s body. I don’t care what Leslie was using to make her think that Charles Manson was Christ. There are no drugs on this earth that could make a human being that messed up to not now that where swimming in blood. The pictures I saw of the bodies from the coroner’s office where like nothing I could ever imagine. The pain and suffering those people went through can never be erased in my mind. I am sorry for the family’s and the fear that we have all lived with for years just knowing that there are people in our society that crazy. I am glad that Leslie is sorry for what she did. But that does not excuse for the manner in the way she had no regard for the lives she took many years ago. I feel like this if it was me I could never expect anyone to feel sorry for me. Even though I had remorse and was a model inmate I could not allow myself to ever be free. I hope that the Governor will reconsider the magnitude of what he doing by overturning her parole. Rosemary and Leno will be a light of glory of the good things that God created.

  7. MeMyself says:

    “Cristian” is spelled christian Lorraine. Van Hoot use to go on the creepy crawls prior to the murders… She had no regard for others, their property, the laws, and the rights granted to all citizens to be safe and secure within their own home. She escalated to murder, a true criminal mind.
    To bad one of their creepy crawl victims did not wake up and blow her brains out, a right we all have to criminals entering our homes….this crime would have never happened. And there is good reason for this law, the Cutter family (In Cold Blood), the BTK murder victims, the night stalker, the list goes on and on. Someone breaks into ones home in the middle of the night, KILL THEM, before they kill you, as statistics prove one cannot negotiate with these type of people and it is impossible to know the intentions of such criminals in the middle of the night.

    Van Hoot is not sorry, she is sorry she got caught…Let her rot in prison as she is the type of psycho we build prisons for in the first place.

    Parole denied…GOOD!!

  8. creepy karpis says:

    when i read “She has served her time and deserves to be released and given a second chance.” all i can think is ” What a dumb-ass statement.”

  9. Fred Bloggs says:

    I believe in forgiveness. I believe in second chances. But I think the word “deserve” should never enter discussions about prisoners and parole. A significant aspect of parole is actually that the parolee is not getting what they deserve, which is to complete their sentence.
    However, MeMyself is wrong when they say that Van Houten is only sorry she was caught. That might’ve been the case back in the early years of her incarceration {evidenced by the treatment her & Pat Krenwinkel meted out to Susan Atkins whom they saw as the snitch that brought their house down} but 47 years is a long time to come to terms with what one has done and people do change. It’s unsurprising that MeMyself is so hot on the idea that people don’t change, given that they have not done so since the days when they were baseball batting peeping toms into unconsciousness ! But there are cons that change for the better, just as there are law abiding citizens that change for the worse.
    While it is true that one of the major points of a prison sentence is indeed punitive, as Eileen says, punishment and retribution are not the only purposes of jail. If there isn’t some kind of rehabilitative principle to jail, then frankly, it’s a waste of time and society at large is pretty stupid/hypocritical {take your pick} because we are inviting something far worse back into society than what went in. So if someone’s sentence contains the possibility of parole, rehabilitation of some sort needs to be on the agenda and logically, that will spell some sort of incentive for the prisoner.
    But it’s never “deserved.” Granted, yes.

  10. Fred Bloggs says:

    I wasn’t, however, surprised by Jerry Brown’s decision. It was pretty predictable. But the sands of time are running out for those that want to keep Leslie and Bruce Davis in jail forever. The reasons the Guv’nor gave for reversing Leslie’s parole granting were clutching at straws in a way that was almost embarrassing. To say that it remains unclear how she got from point a to point b {killer} is sheer nonsense to many that have followed this case for a number of years.
    There’s 47 years worth of writing and answers out there.

    Lee says:

    How come nobody ever wants Tex Watson paroled ?

    Well, Rosemary LaBianca’s daughter went out to bat for Tex a few years ago and supported his parole.
    However, at the risk of infuriating some, let me just say that it’s hard to compare what Charles Watson did with what Leslie Van Houten did. It is true that Leslie is the only one of the killers that wanted to kill and went on to do it, but Tex had a hand in the death of all 7 TLB victims, directly, not just vicariously {as Leslie was, say, for Leno LaBianca or Susan was for both LaBiancas}. And on the record, has been fingered by both Steve Grogan and Bruce Davis as a participant in the murder of Shorty Shea, so much so that in one of Grogan’s parole hearings he’s officially accepted by the parole board as one of Grogan’s crime partners. Despite it making no difference, Leslie genuinely believed Rosemary was dead; that is what she told Diane Lake and it was Diane Lake’s statement that provided corroboration as to Leslie’s involvement. Besides which, most aficionados of this case, whichever side of the fence they stand on, simply do not like Tex. They don’t like the fact that he says God has forgiven him, they don’t like the fact he got married and had 4 kids while in prison and they don’t like the fact that he is not viewed in the same way or worse than Charles Manson even though his actual murderous actions are far worse than anything Charlie came up with.
    With Leslie, I don’t think cuteness has really had much to do with it for a long time because she’s been old, grey, false toothed and wrinkly for a while now. Fact is, most people cannot logically place Leslie Van Houten in the same place as Charles Watson.

  11. Miss P. says:

    Ok, some great points here, but please note that these dead-eyed, dumpster-diving hippies were sentenced to DEATH. All of them.

    They received their second chance/reprieve//forgiveness or whatever in the seventies when the death penalty ruling commuted their DEATH sentences to life in prison. That they are still alive is mercy itself.

    There are far more worthy causes in this world than the defense of the Manson family — find one.

  12. Terry says:

    I’d agree it is easy for the general public to lump Van Houten alongside the other convicted Manson Family members in terms of culpability. The particulars of Van Houten’s level of participation and culpability are quite different from Watson, Atkins and Krenwinkel, though. Van Houten didn’t participate in the Tate murders, and she didn’t assault Leno LaBianca. She only stabbed Rosemary LaBianca in the back and buttocks, and according to Watson, Krenwinkel and Dianne Lane this was done after she thought Rosemary was already dead. These aren’t excuses for what she did, but she was only convicted on two counts of murder (as opposed to seven for the others who went to both houses).
    Yes, Van Houten was spared execution when California overturned the death penalty in 1972. And yes, doubtless that showed more mercy toward Van Houten than she demonstrated toward Rosemary LaBianca. Her sentence was reduced to life imprisonment, but NOT life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
    By all accounts of the prison staff and the parole board, Van Houten has met all the requirements for parole. Governor Brown’s rationale for denying her parole sweeps aside the fact that she has met the requirements for parole and has been deemed suitable and fit to receive parole, and Brown basically argues that the crime itself was such that she should continue to be incarcerated. This is Brown’s right as governor to do so, and it is doubtful Van Houten has the financial or legal means to fight/appeal the decision successfully, or if there is even a legal means to physically enforce a successful appeal should she be able to do so.
    For those same reasons, Bruce Davis will probably continue to stay in prison. I mean, what future governor is going to stand up for the rights of a couple of convicted Manson Family killers?

  13. Ms. B says:

    Only accused of two counts of murder…..only two. With full knowledge of the five murders which occurred the night prior (and totally bummed she didn’t get to participate and certainly did nothing to alert the authorities), knowledge of the brutal torture/slaying of Gary Hinman a little over a week earlier and the brutal murder of Shorty Shea just a bit over two weeks later (possibly an accessory after the fact to one or both). Knowing full well what would occur at this “random” house, and eager to go. Only two murders…”only” two. But if those two were your parents, your sister and brother-in-law, your aunt and uncle or a couple of good friends, that might be two too many. Either way, there are a lot of innocent people who died horribly and way too young, if not by her hand with her full support. She knew Rosemary was alive when she restrained her so that she could be viciously stabbed. Her years in prison and the use of her time while there indicate that she does well in a controlled environment. Perhaps she is better off right where she is, where she appears to thrive.

  14. Fred Bloggs says:

    Ms. B says:

    Her years in prison and the use of her time while there indicate that she does well in a controlled environment. Perhaps she is better off right where she is, where she appears to thrive

    She spent six months out in the free world prior to one of her trials back in the late 70s. She’d been in jail for 7 or 8 years at that point, 4 years of those not in the main population. I think that concerns that Van Houten wouldn’t be able to adjust in the outside world are neither here nor there. If a person has a desire to adjust, they will adjust. Steve Grogan adjusted. Tons of released prisoners adjust.

  15. Rachel says:

    Mark Ellis wrote, “There are other people out their who commit more murders than she and have served less time.” There are also people who have done less and been executed so…

    Leslie admitted she asked to go on this crime after hearing about what happened at the Tate house. That makes it pretty hard to believe that she only participated at Tex’s urging and only stabbed after Mrs. LaBianca was already dead. It’s outrageous that she was up for parole after just 7 yrs. If she’d waited to apply for 20 or so and didn’t constantly minimize what she did, maybe she would’ve had a better chance. Instead, she’s been trying to claw her way out of prison for decades, annoying society, hurting the victims’ families, and wasting a whole lot of resources in the process. Sometimes you reap what you sow – good decision by Gov. Brown. That said, I think whoever wrote that statement had to work pretty hard to rationalize it. Decent job given what they had to work with.

  16. Terry says:

    If Van Houten had been aware of the Hinman and Tate murders prior to entering the LaBianca residence and if Van Houten was aware of the Shea murder (as to being an accessory after the fact in the Hinman/Shea slayings, this hasn’t been proven one way or the other) after she was at the LaBianca residence isn’t legally relevant to the issue of parole, because the crimes she was convicted of involved only the LaBianca murders. Not Tate, not Hinman and not Shea. My use of the word “only” solely involved making a distinction between Van Houten and her co-defendants. It wasn’t meant as a qualifier to minimize the LaBianca murders. Perhaps instead of using the word “only” I should have said “unlike her co-defendants, Van Houten was indicted on two counts of murder as opposed to seven.”
    I’m not necessarily advocating for Van Houten’s release. Ms. B indicated she thought Van Houten might be better off in the controlled environment her prison setting offers. I think that could well be true. However, I also think Van Houten has through the decades availed herself of the educational opportunities the prison system offered, and clearly has a much different mind-set now than she did nearly 50 years ago when she was in her late teens/early 20s and was using psychedelic drugs regularly. Out of the remaining Manson Family still incarcerated, to me she is clearly the one best suited for parole. She has also met the requirements for parole and has been deemed fit by the prison mental health staff and parole board (both of whom assumedly have a much better understanding of who Van Houten is today than the current Governor of California does) for release.

  17. Fred Bloggs says:

    Yes, some murderers have been paroled and killed again. Many haven’t.
    It seems we reach an impasse.

  18. Cybele Moon says:

    I just can’t seem to get my head around this diminished culpability defense. At 19 you do know right from wrong. And as far as brainwashing goes, apparently even under hypnosis you cannot be made to do something that is against your morals. I agree that she has tried to better herself , hasn’t committed any more heinous crimes (she is in jail afterall) but had the Manson clan not been stopped they would have continued on their mission of terror and chaos. Leslie chose to go that second night knowing full well what had happened previously. She may now have insight and be remorseful. Sadly the dead do not get parole.

  19. Cybele Moon says:

    PS she apparently has lots of supporters who are trying to make her out to be a political prisoner, a victim of the justice system, and a long suffering martyr of the system. Please! This woman was given the death penalty originally.

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