Sept. 6 – For the second time in as many years, a California parole board has found Leslie Van Houten suitable for parole. The decision was made earlier today, at Van Houten’s 21st parole hearing, held at the California Institute for Women in Corona.
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, resulting 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. She was recommended for parole for the first time in April of 2016. On July 22, 2016, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the decision, stating, “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.”
The decision will undergo a 120-day review by the Board of Parole Hearings. Then it will be reviewed by Brown, who will have until February 3, 2018 to either confirm, reverse or modify the parole grant.