Court of Appeal Upholds Van Houten Parole Reversal; Denies her Tex Tapes

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Jul. 3 – California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal has denied Leslie Van Houten’s writ of habeas corpus which challenged Governor Gavin Newsom’s reversal of her 2019 parole grant. The court, which ruled 2-to-1 against Van Houten, also denied her access to the Tex Watson tapes.

Justice Virginia Chaney was the lone dissenter, as was the case last year when the court heard Van Houten’s appeal of former Governor Jerry Brown’s reversal of her 2017 parole grant.

“I would issue an order to show cause why the petition should not be granted because I find no evidence in the record to support the Governor’s conclusion that [Van Houten] currently poses an unreasonable risk to public safety if released on parole,” Chaney wrote in her dissent. “I also would issue an alternative writ directing the superior court to vacate that part of its September 11, 2019 order denying [Van Houten’s] request for the transcripts of taped interviews of Charles “Tex” Watson conducted in December 1969 and January 1970 and then issue a new and different order granting same, or show cause why it elected not to do so.”

Van Houten’s next parole hearing will be held on Thursday, July 23rd and will be conducted via Skype due to COVID19.

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11 Responses to Court of Appeal Upholds Van Houten Parole Reversal; Denies her Tex Tapes

  1. Robert Davidson says:

    No govenor with political ambition is never going to lose a voter.cause a single vote means more to him the s so called Manson Family member, besides Leslie they also approved Bruce Davis,and Bobby Beausoliel all vetoed by your great governor of the great state of California

  2. NoJusticeNoPeace says:

    Love. It.

  3. Michael says:

    Not clear what Van Houten wanted with these tapes, or why she was denied use of them if they are relevant to her parole hearings.

    Do they contain details underscoring how reluctant she was to stab Mrs. La Bianca? Or other details that would be helpful to Leslie?

    And is Watson claiming these tapes could be damaging to him and his own parole chances? That’s hard to fathom, unless they include on-record admissions of killing Donald Shea, or new and more damming details about the TLB murders.

    I can’t figure what could be more damming than what we already know. Besides, his chances at release are already a lot slimmer than any of the others; in fact, they seem non-existent to me.

    Whatever. I guess I just don’t get this aspect of Leslie’s case.

  4. Fred Bloggs says:

    Michael says:
    Not clear what Van Houten wanted with these tapes, or why she was denied use of them if they are relevant to her parole hearings.
    Do they contain details underscoring how reluctant she was to stab Mrs. La Bianca? Or other details that would be helpful to Leslie? I guess I just don’t get this aspect of Leslie’s case

    I think that it’s a gamble on Leslie’s part as to what’s on those tapes. Charles Watson says that most of the material that Ray Hoekstra used for Tex’s first book was taken from those tapes and his description of Leslie in that book doesn’t chime with the bloodthirsty killer that she’s often presented as. I think that when put together with that Marvin Part interview from December ’69, it shows that when it came to the act of actually striking the blows of death she wasn’t at all gung ho; on the contrary, she kind of got cold feet. And as she told Part, she had to call Tex to do the dirty and it was him that said to her, “get to it” after it appeared Rosemary was dead. So I think she’s hoping that whatever he may have said on the tapes will bear this out and corroborate what she was saying at the time. And it would be powerful corroboration if it could be shown that at the same period in late ’69/early ’70, having not been in contact for months, they were saying the same or very similar things.
    However, the idea that Watson is the one that literally put the knife in her hand and made her stab, having shown a reluctance to do so is only one way of looking at it. I would say he fortified her and gave her the backbone, as it were, to do what she had originally been intending to do and had frozen in doing. Had they not all been caught and their mission had ultimately been successful, she would have probably thanked him for helping and enabling her to fulfill her part in the cause. So Leslie ought to be careful about those tapes, they could be a double edged sword for her. We’ve already seen how two successive guv’nors have more or less set out their stall regarding her participation in murders from 51 years ago. Continually going back to ’69 does not address her now.

    is Watson claiming these tapes could be damaging to him and his own parole chances? That’s hard to fathom, unless they include on-record admissions of killing Donald Shea, or new and more damming details about the TLB murders.

    I can’t figure what could be more damming than what we already know. Besides, his chances at release are already a lot slimmer than any of the others; in fact, they seem non-existent to me

    Watson claimed that his reasons for not wanting the tapes in the public domain were for the sake of the victims’ families. Although people often make the point that every time there’s a parole hearing they have to relive the horror, that’s being somewhat disingenuous because a] does the horror ever go away ? b] parole hearings are the law – they are going to happen.
    I don’t quite see how the tapes could be more damning to Watson. He’s been inside for close to 51 years, his belief in Christ directly militates against his chances of parole because the spiritual terms in which he explains his mindset then {out of God’s sphere and subject to Satan’s influence} and now {Christ has been reforming him so he doesn’t need secular therapy} are neither understood as reality nor accepted as viable by the parole boards but he continually adopts that line. So he’s not going anywhere soon, I don’t think. LAPD have had those tapes for many years. If there was anything on them that pertained to other crimes he was involved in, he’d have been nabbed ages ago and would he have let Chaplain Ray Hoekstra hear the tapes and if there was stuff on there about other murders he was involved in, as Christian men, both Ray and Tex would have been in collusion about crimes which both would know he should have turned himself in for. I don’t buy that but it’s just an opinion.
    In saying all that, I’d love to hear those tapes ! Or rather, read the proper transcript of them.

  5. Christy says:

    Sort of off topic

    A YouTube was uploaded on July 1 called Rosemary and Leno LaBianca’s Lives & Funerals – Manson Helter Skelter Scott Michaels Dearly Departed

    I haven’t watched the whole video yet though it’s only about 22 minutes long but the part I have watched is interesting. So far the videographer is filming the neighborhood around Los Feliz showing where they lived and worked.

  6. Michael says:

    I agree that the Tex tapes probably paint Leslie as an unwilling participant, since they were the source for Watson’s book, which paints her that way when he describes the killings. (On the other hand, if his taped description of Patricia that night matches his book’s description – saying she picked out which knife to use with “absolute relish” – that tape will do Pat no favors at all!)

    But Watson’s argument that the tapes will hurt the families doesn’t wash with me. His book graphically describes the murders, including the victim’s pleas and terror right to the end. Sensitivity to their families sure didn’t keep him from detailing all of that, and he still makes the book available on his website. Besides, the families can choose not to listen to the tapes or read their transcripts, just as Doris Tate chose not to ever view the crime scene photos at Cielo.

    My guess is that his tone on tape back in ’69 when describing the killings, and maybe his choice of words as well, would come back to bite him if the tapes were heard by a parole board. (Or quoted to them by Stephen Kay or other advocates against Tex’s release.)

    Back then, he communicated something like a cold contempt for the people he killed. Helter Skelter quotes his examining psychiatrist as noting Tex smiled when he described the victims at Cielo “running around like chickens with their heads cut off.” In his book (again, based on the tapes) he calls Sharon a “pathetic blond,” and he admits tormenting his mother with descriptions of how “beautiful” Sharon looked while she begged.

    Can you get any more revolting than that? Now, Watson has probably grown enough since then to realize those were the wrong words. I doubt he’d use them today, and in fairness, I also doubt he’s the same kind of man he was back then. But he must know that people would have a massive reaction hearing comments like that, even if they were said over 50 years ago. It’s like the footage of Susan, Leslie, and Patricia skipping down the courtroom hall smiling and singing. You look at that, and you want to slap all of them and throw them in a pit. What’s said on the Tex tapes, and the way it’s said, might provoke the same reaction against him.

  7. Cybele Moon says:

    well said Michael.

  8. Christy says:

    According to Vincent Bugliosi in his rerelease of “Helter Skelter” in 1994 with a new chapter updating what had gone on in the past 25 years since the murders he talked about how indifferent the murderers were for a number of years. Specifically Watson (Who described the victims as running around like chickens with their heads cut off) and Krenwinkle (who described Abigail Folger as a drug addict). It took years before they managed to look remorseful and my guess is many people look sideways at them whenever they hear them.

    The tapes may paint Leslie as unwilling but her recorded antics did more damage than can probably be countered by the Tex tapes.

  9. Cybele Moon says:

    sad but true Christy. Actually back before Krenwinkel’s last parole hearing she still thought that her victims basically “reaped what they had sown” even though she claimed to be remorseful according to Nikki Meredith who wrote “The Manson Girls and Me.” The two had been in communication for years but when (the sympathetic) Meredith said she could not write to the parole board on Krenwinkel’s behalf until her book had been published, Krenwinkel refused to see or talk to her ever again. I, still, in my deepest thoughts feel that there had to have been something seriously lacking in the frontal cortex of these particular followers to have allowed themselves to be led into violent murder (and not all the followers) which means some could still “possibly” be dangerous, if not physically, in their thinking at least.

    I am trying to read Chaos right now but not sure what new light can be shed on the subject except to somewhat discredit Bugliosi’s role in trying to put together a motive or get a conviction, and perhaps what the FBI did or did not do prior that might have prevented it all. Still it does not excuse anyone’s actions. But I must reserve judgement till done reading.

  10. Christy says:

    I’ve been meaning to read Nikki Meredith’s book. I’m not really surprised by Krenwinkle’s reaction to her refusing to write to the parole board. Krenwinkle seems impulsive from what I’ve read. I can’t even imagine disparaging a victim while at the same time thinking I should be paroled.

  11. Jamie says:

    If you read Meredith’s book, she seems to understand that Krenwinkel felt that Meredith had cultivated her friendship (and her family members) then stepped away from the relationship when the book was complete. That Krenwinkel felt hurt and used. Meredith clearly states in the book that at first, she had intended to write the parole board, but then refused due to fear of would affect the sale of her book. It really had the impression that Meredith preferred the more personable Van Houten, and that this also hurt Krenwinkel’s feelings.

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