Apr. 14 – Leslie Van Houten has been found suitable for parole at her 20th hearing, held today at the California Institute for Women in Corona, California.
Van Houten, was sentenced to death in 1971 for her part in the August 10, 1969 murder deaths of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. The following year, Van Houten saw her sentence commuted to life after the California supreme court outlawed the death penalty, stating it was unconstitutional. In 1976, an appeals court ruled Van Houten was denied a fair trial because her attorney, Ronald Hughes, disappeared while the trial was in progress.
Van Houten was retried in 1977, which resulted in a hung jury. She was retried the following year and again convicted, this time sentenced to life with the possibility of parole.
Because of time served on her original sentence, Van Houten was already eligible for parole when she returned to prison in August of 1978.
Since then, she has been denied parole 19 times. Her last hearing was in June of 2013 and she was given a five year denial. In September of 2015, she filed a petition to advance her hearing date citing self-help programs and other work she had done to address the board’s concerns.
The decision will undergo a 120-day review by the Board of Parole Hearings. Then it will be reviewed by Governor Jerry Brown, who will have from August 12th to September 11th to either confirm, reverse or modify the parole grant.