Dear Governor Gavin Newsom & California Attorney General Robert Bonta,
My name is Anthony DiMaria, nephew of Jay Sebring who was killed on the night of August 8, 1969 by the so-called Manson family. I am also a LaBianca family representative and have delivered impact statements at several Leslie Van Houten parole hearings in past years.
Just as Leslie Van Houten conspired, tortured and killed collectively with the Manson family- our families collectively suffer pain and loss caused by the crimes of Leslie Van Houten and her chosen Manson “family”.
For decades our families have been united and resolute in our fight for justice. We are bound by love to speak for our flesh & blood who lie in their graves… unable to speak for themselves.
In addition to these rare and egregious crimes, our families have been further impacted by legal twists and detours throughout the past fifty years-
First, the revocation of the original death sentences in 1972. In the aftermath of the decision, my grandparents and parents were promised by the Los Angeles District Attorneys’ Office & Los Angeles Police Department that none of the Manson killers would ever actually be paroled. The authorities emphasized that the reduced sentences of “Life with Possibility of Parole” were purely technical.
Decades later, pro-criminal legislation (Youthful & Elderly Offender Acts) was passed mandating early release consideration for all convicted criminals, including violent criminals.
Current Los Angeles District Attorney’s policy forbids all involvement and support from the LADA’s office at all Lifer – rapists’, molesters’, killers’, assassins’ – parole hearings. This directive strips victims & their families of their legal voice and representation in the parole process forcing victims of violent crime to fend for themselves.
On May 30, 2023 an appellate court trashed the executive authority of a duly elected Governor.
Governor Newsom & Attorney General Bonta, you might imagine yourselves in our skin as we are left dumbfounded, “Has the world gone mad?”
From where we stand, the justice system has been turned upside down where violent criminals are portrayed and treated as victims… while actual victims are disregarded and discarded like trash.
Victims’ rights are being swept under the rug, or more accurately, flushed down the toilet.
Governor, you’ve cited in your prudent decisions that Ms. Van Houten’s crimes meet the rare & extreme legal standards established In re Lawrence & In re Shaputis. You have provided evidence of Ms. Van Houten’s extensive pattern of minimization revealing her lack of insight into her crimes and current dangerousness.
In Ms. Van Houten’s own words:
May 28, 1998 Parole: “The autopsy report verifies that there were superficial stab wounds in the lower back of Ms. Labianca. I have consistently testified and taken responsibility for those…those wounds were post-mortem.” [p.53 ll. 14-22]
September 6, 2017 Parole: “I know it’s my responsibility that I allowed this to happen to me [p.210 ll.23-24]… I take responsibility that I allowed myself to follow him.” [p.212 ll. 1-2]
July 23, 2020 Parole: “He [Manson] put us in front of the circle and began to be critical, all geared toward dismantling our personalities and who we were [p.17 ll. 18-21]…He [Manson] was having us give up our personalities [p.18 ll.9-10]… Tex said, ‘Do something’ and handed me a knife and I stabbed Mrs. LaBianca in the lower torso, 16, 18 times [p.24 ll.1-3]…I believe that the things that made me weak and lost were ultimately used as manipulations against me in my conversations with Manson.” [p.29 ll.5-7]
November 9, 2021 Parole: “He [Manson] played every angle he could in any way he could to gain control and power over us [p.88 ll. 17-19]…[I stabbed] because Tex told me to.” [p. 45 l. 22]
Judges Helen Bendix and Victoria Gerrard Chaney’s interpretations are completely out of purview of the extreme, historic realities of Leslie Van Houten’s heinous actions and her extensive pattern of minimization, lack of insight into her crimes and the nexus of current dangerousness as defined in LAWRENCE & SHAPUTIS.
When this appellate court undermined the executive authority of a duly elected governor it set an extremely pernicious precedent for all cases involving violent crime not only in California, but throughout the United States.
The notorious nature of these crimes are additionally of grave concern should Ms. Van Houten be released. The inmate has had extensive involvement with the media throughout her incarceration on Larry King, with Diane Sawyer, a book titled THE LONG PRISON JOURNEY of LESLIE VAN HOUTEN are just a few examples.
Global interest and fascination in these matters is undeniable. It would be devastating to our families should Ms. Van Houten engage in any project generating profit for the convicted felon, not to mention the impact a Van Houten book or show would have on impressionable minds.
If Ms. Van Houten is released, it is our concern that the court’s decision will become a massive issue concerning public safety. The court is not only sending a reckless signal to at risk criminals, it also establishes a very dangerous precedent for early release of all violent offenders who might be perceived as “lesser” in their offences than the extreme bar set by Leslie Van Houten and her crimes.
This travesty of justice is a dagger in the heart of victim’s rights, especially in regards to violent crimes.
Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta- you are all we have left.
On behalf of Leno & Rosemary LaBianca, each Manson family victim and all victims of violent crime throughout the state of California- please do all in your power to reverse the appellate court’s catastrophic decision.
I bring to your attention a statement made by Leslie Van Houten’s longtime attorney Richard Pfeiffer on national television [INSIDE EDITION] immediately after the court’s decision: “The Governor is looking at votes, so he’s got the pressure of all these people who don’t know the facts.”
– Sadly, our families know all too well the facts of these crimes. We LIVE with the realities and facts of Leslie Van Houten’s diabolical actions.
The scales of justice and victims rights are in your hands. Your authority and leadership are the last defense which will determine between victim’s rights & justice or madness.
I thank you in advance for your care and prudence in this grave, significant matter.