Jan. 26 –An appellate court panel has granted Leslie Van Houten a hearing regarding Governor Gavin Newsom’s reversal of her July 2020 parole recommendation. The hearing will take place in Los Angeles on March 16, with a four-justice panel hearing arguments from Van Houten’s attorneys and the Attorney General.
The California Board of Parole Hearings found Van Houten suitable for parole on July 23, 2020. Governor Gavin Newsom reversed the decision four months later, stating:
“Given the extreme nature of the crime in which she was involved, I do not believe she has sufficiently demonstrated that she has come to terms with the totality of the factors that led her to participate in the vicious Manson Family killings.”
Van Houten’s attorneys petitioned the Superior Court to throw out Newsom’s reversal, arguing the Governor failed to prove Van Houten currently posed an unreasonable risk.
Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen denied Van Houten’s petition and upheld Newsom’s reversal, saying the record contained some evidence to support Newsom’s decision; the nature of the commitment offense, an unsupportive psychological evaluation, lack of insight and minimization.
Van Houten’s attorneys took the matter to the appellate court, filing a petition arguing that Newsom’s reversal violated her due process; failed to assess her overall record; relied heavily on the gravity of the commitment offense; and that it established a parole standard that Van Houten could never meet, turning her sentence into a de facto sentence of life without parole.
According to Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Heinisch, Van Houten is asking the court to discount the Governor’s conclusions while giving greater weight to the positive aspects of her record.
“The Governor’s decision is the result of his independent assessment of Van Houten’s individual public safety risk and his determination that her inconsistent responses to the Board and evaluators, even decades after the Manson Family murders and significant efforts in rehabilitation, demonstrate ‘gaps in [her] insight or candor, or both.’” wrote Heinisch, in a brief filed with the court on January 20. “The Governor’s findings are reasonably supported by some evidence in the record.”
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 has been recommended for parole in her last five consecutive parole hearings. All five of Van Houten’s parole recommendations have been reversed by the Governor.
Last November, Van Houten elected to waive her parole hearing for one year, deciding to wait for the courts to rule on her 4th and 5th reversals.
Her next parole hearing is tentatively scheduled for May of 2024.
Updated 2/3/23 – The People’s 1/30/23 Supplemental Return: In Re Palmer
Updated 2/24/23 – Van Houten’s 2/17/23 Traverse to Respondent’s Reply to the Order to Show Cause
Updated 3/8/23 – Van Houten’s 3/2/23 Supplemental Return Reply: In Re Palmer
Updated 3/13/23 – With instructions on how you can watch the hearing.
Updated 3/16/23 – A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the panel as a three-justice panel.
It’s about time!! Praying she finally gets parole!!
Pray every day Leslie gets released, it will happen if the law is followed.
Leslie Van Houten has more than served her time and proven herself through her workings within the system . Examples of a stellar behavior record and a willingness to help new inmates coupled with multiple educational achievements make her a suitable candidate for release . She has shown true remorse and nothing can be gained by keeping her locked up . Let her pay the rest of her debts to society in society although at this stage in the process I believe she already has . We must recognize that Leslie is an educated senior citizen who is not a threat to the public at large . Politics and vengeance can’t be allowed to trump reason in the rehabilitation process or we’re all in trouble .
LVH should never be released from prison. The fact that she has been housed, fed and educated by a system she tried to destroy shows how compassionate the system has been to her. The purpose of the judicial system is not just to rehabilitate but to punish for heinous crimes. The family of RL and LL oppose her release and I think their wishes should be respected. They’re the ones who have suffered, it’s very easy for people to say release her when her crimes had no impact on them.
We know there truly is such a thing as meeting all conditions to be paroled because numerous inmates have been paroled. With a perfect record since she was imprisoned many decades ago, surely this woman has earned her parole. That is simply not debatable. Thus, it’s not at all hard to determine how the court should rule. If they disallow her parole, it will severely damage the overall credibility of California Courts.
The overall credibility of California legal system must have come into question decades ago when the death penalty they all received became life with a chance of parole after seven years!
Whatever I think about that I admit it’s possible LVH will finally get out. At 74 or 75 she has been incarcerated for most of her life. I can’t imagine it will ever be easy for her at this age. Most people that age are retired, have children and grandchildren, a home, a nest egg. Being freed from prison doesn’t necessarily mean freedom. She will still carry the burden of her choices -and- it’s a totally different world from 1969.
LVH, “It’s not like cutting a piece of meat, it’s much tougher. I just completely lid out on that woman’s back.” LVH went into the kitchen, open the refrigerator and drank the chocolate milk of the woman she had just slaughtered. RL was stabbed 41 times, her spinal cord was completely severed. LVH, “it was the right thing to do.” LVH’s perfect record and long stay in prison doesn’t give her the right to be free.
Well that just proves she was out of touch back then she was indeed under influence and brainwashed, otherwise a wise person would never admit such things
Over 50 years in prison for stabbing a dead body, reversed parole 4 times, 0 value to human lives,
Sometimes I feel like the Americans justice system is worse than Iran’s
Gov. Newsome may be secretly glad if he’s let off the hook and can finally walk away from this. He must realize it’s a political liability to release LVH, yet he must also realize there are good legal arguments for confirming parole. If the courts say “She’s out” he can say, “Hey, it’s not my fault, they overrode me!”
No matter how strongly some of us oppose her parole (me included) it gets tiring seeing this deadlock. The Courts may finally break it.
Why isn’t this in the news? Not even on cielodrive.com?
Maybe they was to keep quiet until she is safely out of prison. Also no harassment to all who set her free; if she is freed?
Less media might be a good thing.
It’s revolting that so many people want her out. How come nobody cares for the victims?
Pam: “LVH’s perfect record and long stay in prison doesn’t give her the right to be free.”
Lee: “It’s revolting that so many people want her out. How come nobody cares for the victims?”
Good Lord! What is it about “meeting parole conditions” and the law is so confusing? It’s all very simple. If someone is eligible for parole and they meet those conditions, according to the way they are written, and as judged by members of the parole board, then they are to be paroled. What is hard to understand about that? Yes, the Governor can overrule the parole board, but there has to be a legit reason. But in this case, there IS no good reason, and the reasons he has cited are all clearly bogus and outright wrong. I’m wondering if that’s why the Appellate Court agreed to hear the case.
As I said above, I think it has reached the point where the very credibility of the California Court system is on the line. The governor can’t just keep saying no….for no valid reason. Everyone knows she’s not a danger to society, and for the Governor to keep saying she is is laughable. It’s reached the point where either the Governor is outright lying and making things up, or he’s demented and not competent. The reasons he’s cited for keeping her in prison are literally as if he doesn’t know the facts and hasn’t bothered to read them. It’s as if he pulls a reason out of the “no parole granted” box and throws it out there, hoping that no one notices that it makes him look like a fool.
Regarding Pam and Lee’s statements above, it has nothing to do with “caring for the victims” or whether she SHOULD be paroled! And I know it sounds silly, but it doesn’t even have anything to do with Leslie’s crime and what she did. Nor is it helpful to say “Allowing her parole would be a travesty of justice!” because that has nothing to do with anything. It’s simply following her conditions for parole, as written. She WAS NOT given life without parole, so she IS eligible for parole! Many will not agree with it, but she is. It’s as simple as that.
She’s eligible for parole, she has met the conditions of parole many times over, so she should be paroled! Please stop entering other variables into this simple process…..because they simply are not applicable. It’s a simple “if/then” situation.
Sure, if the clock could be turned back and her sentence could be changed to “Life without parole,” that’s probably what she would receive. But that’s not possible. The facts are…..she IS eligible for parole, and has met conditions for parole for 50+ years.
LVH has done nothing BUT try to get out and absolve herself of her responsibility for two gruesome murders. Just because this murderer is eligible for parole doesn’t mean she should be paroled. 50+ years of incarcerated notoriety is nothing compared to what was taken from the victims and their loved ones. 50+ years of playing the victim of her mother, her older sister, her forced abortion, the 60’s, drugs, Manson cult- ad infinitum excuses for her own behavioral choices that changed as her legal needs dictated to increase her chances to obtain freedom. And here we are again, her nth legal maneuver at taxpayer expense to show how remorseful, how old and infirm and how she has been politicized.
It’s. All. About. Her.
Victims are lost to the process of allowing her legal rights to supersede the very rights of the ones she slain.
If she is released there is no justice for victims of violent crime, and I truly believe that.
If you go by your logic HDAHA, then NO prisoner would EVER receive parole. But plenty of people do…..yes, even murderers. And there is probably NO murderer in California who has received parole that met the qualifications for their parole more than LVH. LVH has a perfect record since being incarcerated over 50 years ago. If she wasn’t tied to Manson, she would have gotten out of prison decades ago. Even the prosecutors predicted that. What even they didn’t know, and couldn’t have predicted, was just how corrupt and cowardly the Governors would be to keep her wrongfully in prison after she earned the right to her release long ago.
It’s laughable how people who say she should never be released, continually repeat the same things over and over, yet never deal with the real (and only important issue), and that is…..has she met the criteria for parole? Nothing else matters. You know she has met the criteria……everybody knows she has. But you won’t speak to THAT issue. You completely ignore it and state your opinions on non-applicable matters instead of dealing with the facts of her parole. If you can’t deal realistically about her parole (which is the only issue), then you’re being intellectually dishonest.
Your ONLY task, if you think she shouldn’t be paroled, is to state what she’s done to NOT be eligible for parole, because that’s the only issue. Her crimes, you say? The victims, you say? None of that is applicable to whether she has met the criteria for parole. It’s two completely separate issues.
The parole board has said she has met the criteria for parole how many years now? Now, are you going to say bad things about the members of the parole board, too? At some point you need to deal with the central issue instead of trying to change the conversation to matters which have no relevance to that issue.
Obviously, you’d love nothing more than a pissing contest about the virtues of LVH’s rights. In your opinion you insinuate the victims play no relevance in parole. The entire reason LVH has been in prison is due to her choices during her life. As much as you disregard the victims’ rights and their rights to live, you give my nothing but validation to my opinion. Get it? Opinion.
However, you did ask a question in all that vitriol. Which I already answered in my OP:
“Just because this murderer is eligible for parole doesn’t mean she should be paroled.”
Intellectually dishonest, am I? Back at ya babes.
HDAHR: “However, you did ask a question in all that vitriol. Which I already answered in my OP: “Just because this murderer is eligible for parole doesn’t mean she should be paroled.”
Lol….and I rest my case. You have nothing to say. You have nothing to offer. You refuse to answer my questions because you know I’m right. If crimes and victims made any difference regarding parole, there would not even be such a thing as parole. Think about that, please.
No, being eligible for parole certainly doesn’t mean she should be paroled. There is no “right” to being paroled. Parole is earned….based on one’s BEHAVIOR while incarcerated. Don’t know why that is such a challenging issue for you. Why does the parole board recommended LVH for parole over and over again? It’s because her behavior and current functioning warrants it. She has literally been perfect for over half a century. What you are wanting is for there to not be parole for anyone, and that ain’t going to happen. You’ve got to be realistic.
HDAHR: “Intellectually dishonest, am I?”
Judging from your lack of relevant responses to my questions, maybe “deficient” would have been a better term. 😀
Billy said, “If crimes and victims made any difference regarding parole, there would not even be such a thing as parole. Think about that, please.”
Repentance is not focused on what other criminals got away with, so there’s that. Steps taken to redress bad behavior while incarcerated is a legal argument. It’s my understanding that the Governor must use the same factors the parole board uses when granting parole. That’s in the state constitution: Article V, Sec. 8.b Then again, so is Marsy’s Law Article I, Section 28(b) 16. Victims do have rights, perhaps you should familiarize yourself.
Victims of crime have no voice-the state argues for them. Thanks for shoring up my opinion there is/will be no justice if LVH is free. And yes, some do deserve parole. IMO, LVH isn’t one of them. If you find fault in my response, perhaps that’s something you need to work on.
HDAHR said: “Thanks for shoring up my opinion there is/will be no justice if LVH is free. And yes, some do deserve parole. IMO, LVH isn’t one of them.”
There you go…..getting off into the weeds again. Citing something that has nothing to do with the issue of parole. You just can’t stay on the subject, or answer direct questions. You try to have it both ways, and your opinions change like the wind, depending on your personal feelings, and/or knowledge of the prisoner.
When the parole board deems her eligible for parole year after year, do you think the members of the Board know nothing about their job? Are you saying the governors of California know more about whether she should be paroled than the members of the parole board……who know her case (and her) inside out? Do you see how absurd that is? You know as well as anyone that the only reason she’s still in prison is because of possible political ramifications for the governor that allows her to be paroled. In other words, you care nothing about the law or the rules of parole, you just want the Governor to continue NOT playing by the rules and continue ignoring his responsibilities. You want him to continue citing bogus reasons for keeping her imprisoned.
You say “some deserve parole, but not LVH”. There you go again, trying to tie her parole only to her crime and not at all to her parole requirements. Surely you realize that tons of murderers have been paroled in California. Do you think none were as bad as what LVH did? If so, then maybe YOU need to work on that, because you’ll find that’s not the case at all.
If you think some deserve parole, but not Leslie, are you saying someone who has zero violations in 50+ years of being in prison isn’t someone who “deserves parole”? Obviously, if anyone deserves it, it would be Leslie. You can’t get better than perfect behavior.
You’re simply wanting Leslie to be treated differently because you personally disagree with her sentence and the fact that parole is an even a possibility for her. You think she should have received life without parole, and since you think that SO strongly, you’re willing to disregard written parole eligibility requirements. You’re fine with OTHERS getting parole, but not Leslie because of your personal feelings. You want it both ways. Sorry, but you can’t have that. You have to play by the rules.
Contrary to the way you (and many others) want things to be, here’s reality…..
1. Some murderers are eligible for parole in California.
2. Some murderers meet the criteria for parole, so they HAVE been paroled. (Yes, even some really bad ones!)
3. Leslie is a murderer who is eligible for parole.
4. Leslie has been perfect for 50+ years in prison and the State’s Parole Board members continually say, year after year, that she has met all conditions for parole.
5. Two different governors of California have decided they DISAGREE with their own State’s Parole Board year after year and deny Leslie parole because they are afraid they might make voters mad and they might not win the next election if they don’t.
6. You (and others) don’t want Leslie paroled under any circumstances. Why? Were all those other paroled murderers kinder and gentler?
7. All prisoners should be treated fairly when determining whether they meet the qualifications for parole…..yes, EVEN those who were part of sensationalized trials that made headlines around the world.
Brilliant HDAHA!. Rubbish that she should be released. Bloody butcher!
Thanks for the vote of confidence Pam, very much appreciated. Some people can’t discern opinion and legalese however, to ignore the victim is as you eloquently stated: rubbish! When presented with weeds, there’s a snake in the grass.
This is off topic, but it does involve LVH: I recently read that LVH has a net worth of 12 million dollars, and was wondering if someone could elaborate/explain/refute.
Interesting if true. I’ve no idea about LVH’s “earnings” but would love to see a forensic financial audit.
Stephen, you have your facts mixed up. The total is $120 million. And it’s Nancy Pelosi not LVH. But I too would like someone to elaborate and explain.
Why is there nothing about this anywhere but this site? I believe it’s true, but while no coverage anywhere I can find but here? 🤔
I think this bodes well for Van Houten; more likely if decision is made in her favor she can dye her hair and quietly away.
If she got paid $10 an hour to work in the prison laundry and worked a standard 40 hour week for 50 years, with proper investing, she could easily amass $12 million. For example, a modest investment in General Housewares the maker of Chicago Cutlery (invest in what you know) made in 1970 would have rewarded her quite handsomely.
I appreciate the input. The only thing I can add to the discussion is that I read the info. on different websites, but each of the these sites noted that she was (to quote one of them) “not forthcoming with the nature of her income and source(s) of earnings”. One would think that there would be checks/balances/forms of accountability within the system to account for any earnings of an inmate (how one could/would amass a small fortune , for example, while incarcerated) and even if she was not forthcoming with the sources of her alleged monies, that the “system” would. I have read that Manson’s estate was valued at somewhere over $400,000, but in his case, they were able to list how these assets were accrued. Not so here.
Are prisoners allowed to invest? If that is the case they should have to pay back the government and their victims.
Is this an American thing? However, her family may have left her something in the hopes she would get out one day.
Although I agree with Pam and HDAHA, it is out of our hands.
Cybele, I thought there was a civil judgment against Manson, Watson, Krenwinkle, Atkins, and Van Houten. I also think it applied to Kasabian. I know Frykowski’s son got a judgment against Manson’s royalties. Anybody else heard about the civil suit against these five?
Possibility of parole,does not guarantee parole! Leslie, should not be released ever.. Truth be told all of them should have gotten life without parole. Slight change of subject, I just read that Linda Kasabian died,any thoughts anyone?
To put it mildly was never of “fan” of Ms. Kasabian, and never thought of her as the “human being” that VB had depicted her during the trial. I was never comfortable with her immunity deal, and although I understand that the prosecution was gunning for Manson, the fact that she was present at the Tate house and faced no prosecution for her participation in that event never sat well with me. I f Manson did indeed “order” the killings, than I would agree that he has a level of accountability and should be prosecuted. However, Kasabian was present at the crime scene, did not seek help as she ran down the hill on her way back to the car, admitted years later going the SP’s wallet as she passed his vehicle, and did nothing the next day in terms of trying to contact the authorities. She only came forward months later when she realized that there was warrant out of her arrest. IMO, Ms. Kasabian’s not seeking help the night of the Tate murders contributed to the death of the LaBiancas. If she had sought help the night of the Tate slayings, most likely it would not have made any difference to those victims, but police may have had an opportunity to arrest TW, PK, and SA. either at the residence itself or tracing them back to the ranch, which most likely would have been raided, arrests made, etc.., and the second nights of murders foiled. By seeking help on the first night of murders she mat very well have prevented the second. By doing nothing, she guaranteed them. For me, her “hands are not clean”, and she should have been prosecuted.
I have mixed feelings about Kasabian. She’s legally guilty of 7 murders, actively participated both nights, left her infant daughter with a batch of monsters when she made her getaway, and seems to have led a pretty checkered life these past 50 years. Yet she did make an attempt to stop the Tate killings , however feeble it was, when the others were butchering the victims. She showed real sorrow over the crimes when the others were laughing about them. And I think her performance on the stand was pretty impressive, considering the cross examination she was under from 4 defense attorneys, and the threats from the Family. She was no saint, but I still think she was a cut above the others. (Yeah, I know, that’s not raising the bar very high)
I agree completely with everything you said, Stephen. Bugliosi needed her testimony and was simply willing to play games with Linda Kasabian in order to convict the others. He knew she was an accomplice to murder and should have been punished also. But instead, he said “She wasn’t like the others.”
Clearly, more people died because of her failure to inform, so she’s as responsible for the deaths as much as the rest.
My condolences to her family. I believe that LK was very different from the others. I don’t believe she was capable of murder. She led Manson to the wrong apartments when he wanted to kill the actor. May she rest in peace.
Well. How did the hearing go ?
Well. How did the hearing go ?
The hearing went very well. Before the hearing, Leslie was one vote short of parole and it looks like she now has that vote. Justice Bendix kept asking the attorney general for ANY evidence of current dangerousness or a lack of insight and the attorney general could not come up with anything.
Thanks, please keep us updated
Thank’s Rich. Good luck. I think you have done an excellent job.
I think it will be a sad day for justice if she’s ever released.
I agree with you Pam. By her choice she denied Leno and Rosemary LaBianca their right to live and grow old; she cruelly, gleefully butchered them in cold blood and now uses that very reason to argue for freedom: she’s old, she’s no longer a threat, it’s cruel and unusual punishment to reverse her granted parole, etc. Irony is dead along with justice if she is released.
Hi Pam, I know how you feel. A lot of people today get life sentences without parole and I can’t bear all the rubbish about how Gavin Newsom releases pedophiles etc but keeps poor Leslie incarcerated. I believe the Manson crimes were heinous enough to warrant a full life sentence. For some reason the legal system erred (in my opinion) after the death penalty was taken away. They gave them a chance at parole!! However, the Manson members basically have not been paroled all these years. Rich Pfeiffer believes in what he is doing and according to his knowledge of the law she may well be released because of her advanced years. I’m just wondering how this will effect the other Mansonites in their petitions for release. At least they have not been released during their most fruitful years. I think that because of today’s poor economy jails today don’t want to bear the burden of elderly and ill inmates. God grant us all peace especially the victims .
Cybele, I have often thought the same about the precedent this will set. It will be hard to justify keeping the others in if Leslie is freed, even though they killed more people than she. All of them are elderly, and all (except Booby) seem to have pretty good records. Paroling her may be legally valid, and she seems to have grown into a worthwhile person. But this will be awfully hard on surviving family members who live with the misery she and the others inflicted on them.
….. I didn’t mean to call Bobby “Booby!” Freudian slip?
When Leslie was sentenced to seven years to life after her third trial, why didn’t those of you who want her to never be paroled complain then? That sentence could have been appealed and it wasn’t. Maybe the most important thing now is whether or not the law should be followed?
“‘[W]e must rely on our prosecutors to carry out their fiduciary obligation to exercise their discretionary duties fairly and justly—to afford every defendant, whether suspected of crimes high or petty, equal treatment under the law.’ (Citation omitted.) ‘The first, best, and most effective shield against injustice for an individual accused, or society in general, must be found not in the persons of defense counsel, trial judge, or appellate jurist, but in the integrity of the prosecutor.’ (Citation omitted.)” (People v. Dekraai (2016) ___ Cal.App.5th ___ [2016 WL 6879317 at p. 2.].)
That’s a good point. I wonder if the families of the victims tried. I think people did vote the death penalty back on the books in California not long after it was abolished. Yes, we need to follow the laws or try to change them. What is actual “justice” depends on your perspective I suppose and is not always to do with the legal system. The case and story is very compelling even to non Americans like me.
I am inclined to think that “Booby” (lol) though talented is a psychopathic personality
RICH PFEIFFER says:
March 20, 2023 at 9:09 am
When Leslie was sentenced to seven years to life after her third trial, why didn’t those of you who want her to never be paroled complain then?
Putting the onus of law on civilians’ opinion is gratuitous. Why didn’t we complain after her third trial? Some of us were not even born yet and those that were, like me, was using footprints on the floor learning to dance to Chic Le Freak. LVH wasn’t even a blip in the road let alone the rearview. Armchair quarterbacks as it were, the perpetual Rubic cube never solved, the bad penny that keeps showing up for 50+ years. The Manson gum on the shoe of justice.
Despite my obvious misuse of metaphors, I’ll always have the opinion that this case in particular warrants no parole. Maybe when I grow up I can argue for that with legislature change. Until then I’ll work on my footwork.
A fair and impartial jury already decided that it didn’t warrant life without parole about 40 years ago.
A fair and impartial jury already decided that it didn’t warrant life without parole about 40 years ago.
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