Court Orders Briefs & Tex Tapes Transcript

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020

Jun. 3 – California’s Attorney General will have until next Thursday to oppose Leslie Van Houten’s request for a copy of the Tex Watson tapes.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal is currently reviewing a petition of Habeas Corpus filed by Van Houten challenging the legality of Gavin Newsom’s reversal of her 2019 parole recommendation. Part of the petition requested the court order the Watson tapes be turned over to Van Houten’s attorney Richard Pfeiffer.

In a order issued today, the court requested that a transcript of the Tex Watson tapes be filed under seal along with a short brief opposing release.

The Tex Watson tapes are the earliest known documented account of the Tate-LaBianca murders. Recorded before any codefendant account had been made public, the tapes provide an uninfluenced look into the two nights of murder which Watson led.

Attorneys for Van Houten have sought copies of the tapes for the past six years, believing they contain information relevant to Leslie’s parole suitability.

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37 Responses to Court Orders Briefs & Tex Tapes Transcript

  1. JOHN LUCKETT says:

    This is completely insane. Leslie Van Houten enjoyed participating in The killings of Rosemary and Leno Labianca. They were in the early thirties at that time on around August 10, 1969. Leslie put a pillowcase around Rosemary’s head and then wrapped a lamp extension cord from around her neck and thereafter stabbed her to death. The victims can’t come back,but she thinks and Society is considering letting her go free! That’s the only thing that matters is that she took two innocent lives and they can never be brought back to life. She got spared the death sentence because the governor of California commuted it to life imprisonment with possibility of parole.

  2. Matthew says:

    It was not the governor that commuted her death sentence to live with parole.

    n 1976, the California Supreme Court, basing its decision on a United States Supreme Court ruling earlier that year, held that the California death penalty statute was unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution because it did not allow mitigating circumstances to be admitted as evidence.

  3. Michael says:

    I’ve always opposed Leslie’s release. She is guilty of deliberate and premeditated murder. But whether or not she enjoyed the act is debatable. By all accounts (including Watson’s) she was hesitant and unenthusiastic during the crime.

    That makes her no less culpable, and her behavior afterwards (especially during the trial) was downright sadistic, laughing and singing and mocking witnesses. But it looks to me like she went along that night, willing but not enthusiastic.

  4. John Luckett says:

    Michael,You are right about the Supreme Court.However you admit in your reply that “Leslie”,and her associate killers killers were laughing,singing,and making fun of the witnesses. Why then are you uncertain that she enjoyed killing Rosemary Labianca? She shouted to Charles Tex Watson to help her kill Rosemary as she stabbed her to death at least 69 times!!!

  5. Michael says:

    John, I could be wrong because there’s no proof either way. But according to Watson’s account, Leslie was very reluctant to stab Mrs. La Bianca, and had to be dragged into the room to do it. It was done, according to him, with no enthusiasm. I see no reason Watson would misrepresent what happened, because it wouldn’t be in his interest to do so.

    She is no less guilty, whether she loved killing or hated it. She did it either way, and as I said before, her antics afterwards were repulsive, whether or not she was dominated by Manson. But that’s why I think she didn’t necessarily enjoy the act, though she bears the full responsibility for it.

  6. Chuck says:

    One thing about Leslie’s situation compared to the other perpetrators is the fact that her original conviction was overturned on appeal. This would have happened whether the death penalty had been commuted or not. Leslie’s second trial resulted in mistrial due to a hung jury and her third trial resulted in a sentence of 7 years to life with parole. Legally, she was never subject to the death penalty as were the others.

    What she did was awful, they way she and the others behaved was awful, but I personally think Watson and Krenwinkel were the driving forces at the murders by far. Watson’s statements over the years have always mentioned that Leslie and Susan as well were terrified and that he did the actual killing when they couldn’t. I think these tapes are important evidence. They will show whether or not he’s consistently said that since the very beginning.

  7. Cybele Moon says:

    Chuck, wasn’t her conviction overturned only because her lawyer had died? What do you mean she wasn’t subject to the death penalty? I thought they all were.

    Michael, I might have thought she was unenthusiastic if she stabbed LaBianca once “to get her hands dirty”, but over a dozen times seems more than an unenthusiastic person would do.
    Whatever Watson or Krenwinkel say, that Leslie and Susan were “terrified” (or reluctant) the fact is they were all in it to commit murder and mayhem and they achieved that period.

    So many must still remember the horror of these crimes because it seems the majority of people would rather see all of them remain in prison remorseful or changed as they might be now.

  8. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    Cybele, when you deviate from the law to satisfy the “majority” you let mob rule take over. Courts are supposed to be independent so the law can be enforced evenly and correctly, even when the majority don’t like that result. The law is that Leslie was sentenced to 7 years to life meaning that as soon after 7 years she no longer poses an unreasonable risk to public safety she SHALL be released. Nobody being honest can remotely say that today Leslie is a public safety risk. I just want the courts to have the courage to do their job, even though it may be unpopular.

  9. Cybele Moon says:

    Rich Pfeiffer, This has been such a controversial case. Although I feel they should have all been given a real life sentence w/o parole , – fair enough- I understand your position as someone who knows the law and agree with the idea that she is no longer a risk at 71. Whether or not I agree, the court will have the final say andI respect your opinion and position.

    The story is horrifying and tragic and still brings strong feelings and emotion.

  10. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    Cybele, I hope you know that the murders were very preventable. The police were routinely arresting Manson cult members for crimes they got caught red handed committing and then released them all without ever filing charges. They had a confidential informant at the ranch a month before the murders. After the murders they did a raid and found a machine gun (they knew Manson had), an assortment of guns, stolen vehicles, drugs, and stolen credit cards in Manson’s pocket. Everybody got arrested and no charges were filed. Manson was on parole, no parole violation. This just doesn’t happen. Why won’t they let everyone know the truth, it’s been over 50 years. If they didn’t like Leslie’s sentence (she was almost given probation after her third trial), the DA could have appealed it. They didn’t. There is a right for a lot of people to be angry, but angry for what they permitted to happen and what they are still trying to hide. I just want the truth, is that too much to ask? In Leslie’s case, the DA lied to the supreme court, lied to the governor, and lied to the parole board. Defense attorneys get disbarred for that, not Jackie Lacey or her prosecutors even though they had to answer to the state bar. Leslie admits everything as honestly as she remembers it, trying to take responsibility for her actions and even for letting Manson control her and the others. I don’t know what theory they are going to use at the next parole hearing next month, but I am predicting it is some new theory as to why Leslie should not be paroled. EVERYBODY should be angry that the prosecution continues to be dishonest (as early as this week in new briefs filed on the 3rd reversal).

  11. Cybele Moon says:

    Rich Pfeiffer, I understand you are the lawyer for LVH and I appreciate you taking time to reply. Yes, I too wish it had all been prevented – so much suffering could have been avoided and you have some interesting information.
    Having known someone close to my family who was a victim of a violent crime I tend to look at things from the victim perspective and I suppose at the time of the Manson murders, people were especially horrified that young middle class girls could participate in such “random (?)” and gruesome murders.
    At any rate after reading your reply it sounds as though it could go either way. Not everyone looks at if from a legal point of view but from that standpoint you may be right.
    I just realized that LVH has actually been in prison now for 50 years ( I think). She is closer to the end than the beginning. She was a very attractive and intelligent girl. She could have done so much with her life had she not met Manson. That is a tragedy too,

  12. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    Agreed that this who Manson cult and all of the victims (beyond just the murder victims) was an incredible tragedy and the worst part is this was ALL very preventable. While I represent Leslie, I too had a partner in a very serious relationship murdered by her ex. So I do get it.
    In Leslie’s case, the tragedy continues and it doesn’t have to. Maybe what bothers me the most is that the prosecution is dirty and the courts know it, but don’t have the courage to enforce the law because of public opinion. As a free country, equal application of the law is a must. Leslie has spent 50+ years in prison, but she has made the most of her situation. She has been an important part of a lot of women’s rehabilitative efforts, and she has led by example. She gets the utmost respect from not only most of the inmates (some inmates who aren’t embracing rehabilitation can be trouble), but the entire prison staff respects her and are behind her. That respect just didn’t happen overnight, it was earned in a long slow process that was not one bit easy. I still get letters from mothers who Leslie helped years ago, have been released, and have healthy families but haven’t forgotten where it all started – – with Leslie. The children of those mothers are also victims and they are so thankful for Leslie’s efforts through the decades. While being the perfect inmate is not a good enough reason by itself to be released, when you look at Leslie’s actions, her taking responsibility for those actions, and her sentence, there is not one good reason not to release her other than anger and revenge, and those are not good reasons. If we are going to be a law abiding society, her release should be pursuant to the law, not emotions. I have been hesitant to get involved with comments on this site but too many comments are not based on accurate facts or the law. I just want all of you to know that while we are humans and we all make mistakes, I believe it’s improper to comment on someone else without all of the accurate information. The saddest part of this is that until the public gets access to the Tex tapes, we may never know the truth. Bo (who runs this site), Tom O’Neil (who recently wrote Chaos – a must read if you want to know a lot of the truth) and I are the only ones trying to pry the tapes from the secrecy of the DA’s office. It’s sad that the other attorneys on Manson related cases have not lifted a single finger to help, even when some of them were presented with golden legal opportunities. My feeling is the more truth that is released, the better in the long run it is for everyone. The victims’ families also deserve access to the tapes. I’ve reached out to them to to partner that effort which would be more powerful than any of us acting alone, but while they want the tapes, they don’t want them bad enough to have to share them with me. Sad.

  13. Cybele Moon says:

    The comments from LVH lawyer makes you realize that on both sides we can never walk in another’ shoes, nor can we judge another’s motives or experience. I doubt if any of us will ever know all the truth or if the Tex Tapes will even be relevant as to the culpability of all those involved.
    Spiritually speaking no one I believe is beyond redemption – even life in prison can be a journey of atonement, but nor is it my place to condemn those who do not want to forgive.
    As I said before, my personal “opinion” was that there should never have been an option of parole for any of these types of crimes ( and not just Manson murders) so victims’ families would not have to suffer these hearings again and again.
    However, the option of parole was given and Leslie and her attorneys have every right under law to pursue this as well whatever my opinion is.

  14. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    Cybele, thank you for that last comment, it is something that all sides should consider and no side can legitimately attack or condemn. Crime has a lot of penalties and consequences that go far beyond the direct victims. Once a crime is committed, it cannot be undone. At that point, the best thing for everyone (including direct and indirect victims), is that the criminal be rehabilitated and crime stops from that perpetrator. I understand a lot of victim rights groups want to be hard on crime and never parole a criminal if they killed someone. That is not the law. The hardest part of the process is for a judge to issue the best sentence in each case. Judges have a lot of experience and still err, that will never end. But we all need to accept a court’s ruling and if we don’t like it there are 2 legitimate options: 1) appeal the court’s decision and/or 2) go to the Legislature to change the law. What should not be done, and is being done in this case, are efforts to not follow the law. That only leads to a lawless society. I also don’t condemn the police for what they did in allowing Manson and his cult to commit all of the criminal activity they were engaged in. Law enforcement is difficult and even with the best intentions, things sometimes backfire. There may have been a legitimate reason for what law enforcement did and didn’t do. However, I DO CONDEMN law enforcement today for covering up what they did 50 years ago. If not disclosed, what happened then could happen again.

  15. Cybele Moon says:

    Indeed! “…condemned to repeat it” I so agree. And these are very difficult times for the USA and in the world also. When this case became visible on media I read a great deal about it and looked at old archives. I saw the grief of those affected. It’s such a sad, fascinating and horrible story, like another grotesque story with so much coverage- Ted Bundy. I’ve tried to imagine what I might feel if I was a family member or friend of the one found guilty as opposed to victim’s families and that’s a hard one! They are also victims.
    I have to confess as you know, I have sided with those who are against parole and many of those people who opposed seemed to have gut reactions and were very angry to the point where insults were hurled here as well and those for her release had emotional responses too.
    At any rate, it must be very difficult for you, and those who stand for the letter of the law or who want her freedom . I agree that public opinion has influenced this and I also agree that the correct way to act is to try to legally change the existing laws as opposed to mob rule.
    I’m going to find the book Chaos.

  16. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    Cybele, our replies to each other should stand as an example of how different sides of an issue should listen to each other and in doing that, understand each other and respect the competing differences. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think you’d see all sides, I now am happy I was mistaken. What I try to do is not only represent my clients, but I look for solutions. I think that’s the key. The outcome is not nearly as important as are the solutions

  17. Alexander Hill says:

    Rich Pfeiffer,

    When should we know the Supreme Court outcome in regards to the Jerry Brown decision?

  18. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    Alexander, the supreme court remanded to the appellate court who issued the same opinion. That one is finished, the appellate court has the 3rd reversal now and on the 23rd Leslie has another hearing

  19. Alexander Hill says:

    Rich Pfeiffer,

    Thank you for the update. Good luck.

  20. NoJusticeNoPeace says:

    Hey Rich, just how rich you think you’re going to get writing a book? edit me again. C’mon. Guess he has merit. Yanno other than victims, their families and friends.

  21. Liz says:

    I like that you mentioned that emotions have no place in the law. If we as a society allow emotions to rule, our prisons would be so overwhelmed that we would have a prison in just about every county in America. Even worse would be stated that have the death penalty, they would be executing daily and innocent people would die, as some do now.

    I believe Leslie should be released, I’ve believed this for over ten years now. For the longest time I felt they all should be locked away forever. That was based on the fear of Helter Skelter. When I retired and had time, I researched and read everything out there on this. it’s Interesting how many facts there are available that people either choose to over look or simply choose to go with their emotions on this.

    Through reading and resesrch, I came around and now think Leslie should have been out after 20 years or so. As a licensed Social worker, I’ve worked with criminals that murdered and were paroled after less than 12 years time served. It was premeditated and conspiracy to kill was involved. The man served 12 years after strangling older man for money. He was released at his second parole hearing. So I’ve questioned many times, why is Leslie still in prison?

    This entire case is politically motivated and emotions have been allowed in. Sure I emphasize with the victims families, who wouldn’t. But after 50 years have gone by, it’s time to let it rest.

  22. Liz says:

    Thinking that a lawyer is only involved so he/she can write a book, is ridiculous. There are many lawyers out there that do this because they love the law and seeing that the law is followed. Without these kind of lawyers our justice system would fail completely. It’s already bad enough in some areas. So what if someday he does write a book on this. Maybe if he does, ignorant people could understand how the law is supposed to work on both sides, prosecution and defense.

    In this country we are all entitled to be treated fairly and just, under the law. Right now, Leslie is not being treated fairly. The obstruction of justice seems to run all the way up to the Gov on this.

  23. Cybele Moon says:

    Liz, there is a lot of injustice in this world and for many that might mean that someone who was able to strangle an old person for money ( not a crime of passion or temporary insanity) gets let out of prison in 10 years.
    I guess the question might be “are the laws as they stand always just?” In another state 5 teenagers who murdered a family with 2 little children on the side of a road to steal their car were given life without the possibility of parole. They are still there 25 years later, one is applying for clemency as their sentences were all fixed at life, but it seems doubtful.

  24. Stephen Craig says:

    Speaking as one who does feel it is indeed an injustice to release a murderer after only serving little more than a decade behind bars, I like to say that I do not see any injustice in the length that LVH has served in prison: The only “interest” I have in comparing the length of her sentence to those who have committed similar atrocities and were release after serving only a fraction of the time she has been incarcerated, is in my supporting candidates/lobby lawmakers to hopefully ensure that the laws that that govern sentences for murders (particularly first degree murders) would mandate more jail time than that of your average car thief. It is (IMO) outrageous that someone could rob another human being of their most precious gift, their life, (with violence, no less) and serve such a short amount of time behind bars. What does the length of that sentence say about we as a society view murder; the horrendous act of taking someone’s life? Do we not value the victims right to live? To experience what the world has to offer as you and I do every day? What does such a short sentence say about our societal opinions about the terror the victim had to endure prior to his/her death? That when we “review” the whole “event” in its entirety, our society deems a decade in jail is a fair punishment for such an act? I feel that every murder case, especially first degree murder, should be viewed with the same “lens” that the Manson case has; whether the case is world famous or not. Victims, no matter who they were, deserve no less. It is clear that the “powers that be” will do everything in their power to keep these killers behind bars, obviously because of the notoriety of the case and its impact on our culture ( and I also think no one in gov’t is willing to commit “political suicide by” granting parole) And I am aware of the LVH’s of the parameters of LVH’s sentencing back in 1977 and
    the requirements needed for parole. And, believe it or not, I actually do think she has met these requirements. But, and here I am going to use a word that might offend, I feel it is MORALLY wrong to grant her parole. Now, before anyone says that “morality” has nothing
    to do with the “law”, I’d ask you to take a moment to think about that: For if it is believed that “morality” has nothing to do with the “law”, then once could argue that the “law” is therefore “immoral”. In our nation’s history we have made/changed many laws that we found to be immoral (think segregation/rights of workers etc…). There was nothing “legal” in terms of the creation of/elimination of such laws. Our nation simply “felt” that it was morally wrong to continue supporting/allowing certain societal policies/behaviors/mandates and that laws must be created/changed/eliminated to reflect the “morality” of the nation. And when it comes to the laws of our nation, one cannot ignore the influence of religious teachings (Ten Commandments). So morality and our laws are connected, but both are influenced by the era in which we live and the everchanging philosophy du jour. Initially all of the defendants in this case were sentenced to death; when the public consciousness began to shift in the early 70’s, law makers declared the death penalty unconstitutional and kicked it back to the states to decide for themselves (and defendants like LVH fell through the cracks). And now in the states back it forth it goes, like a tennis match, depending on the whims of the day, the era in which we live. One cycle the death penalty is the “flavor of the day, a few years later,
    its not. In LVH’s case I do feel that for those who either support her or don’t, it really has nothing to do with “the law”; it has to do with what one thinks is the “moral”, the “right thing to do”. So, some feel, no matter what the “law” says, she is exactly where she should be; and others, no matter what the law might/might not say, feel that she should be granted parole, that she has served her time and paid for her crime. That it’s fair an “right to let her out. But where are the LaBianca’s in all of this? I mean, if anyone has truly paid for her (and PK and TW) crime, it is them. I cannot imagine what there last moments must have been like as they faced their killers. What must it have been like for them, in their own home, pillowcases wrapped around their heads as the blindly fought against those knives, that savagery. Yet, knowing all this, there are those who relegate the LaBianca’s to anecdotes, “asides”, collateral damage, ancillary characters in the LVH’s saga. Because, after all, she has served 50 years in jail, and they’re just, well, you know, just dead…

  25. Billy Esquire says:


    Paragraphs are your friend. 😃

  26. Cybele Moon says:

    Hear hear Stephen, with or without paragraphs, those sentiments are similar to mine.

  27. Cybele Moon says:

    PS: that doesn’t mean that I don’t take into consideration the opposing position. This has been a tough case and a terrible story. I hope somehow that it will bring about more psychological and spiritual awareness, although people being who they are will often be guided by dark forces rather than light.

  28. Peter says:

    Rich, I’m just a small town antitrust lawyer, but taking responsibility for letting someone control you, doesnt sound much like taking responsibility at all.

    That being said, I support your cause and think you are doing a fantastic job for your client.

  29. Peter says:

    Uh, one other thing Mr. Pfeiffer,

    “They had a confidential informant at the ranch a month before the murders.”

  30. Fred Bloggs says:

    JOHN LUCKETT says:

    This is completely insane

    I’ll tell you what’s approaching insane ¬> it’s you continually mis~stating facts in order to demonstrate your righteous indignation. It waters down your opinion if the opinion you share is on inaccurate factual information.

  31. Cybele Moon says:

    Fred,I’m not sure what you mean about what Luckett said as being totally wrong ? Except that no one is absolutely sure about whether Mrs. Labianca was dead or still alive when LVH stabbed her multiple times?

  32. Fred Bloggs says:

    Cybele Moon says:

    Fred,I’m not sure what you mean about what Luckett said as being totally wrong ?

    “They were in the early thirties at that time on around August 10, 1969”

    38 and 44 are not the early 30s.

    “She got spared the death sentence because the governor of California commuted it to life imprisonment with possibility of parole”

    Her original sentence had nothing to do with the guv’nor.

    “She shouted to Charles Tex Watson to help her kill Rosemary as she stabbed her to death at least 69 times!!!”

    At least 69 ? So there could have been more ?

    “I’m so glad she’s been confined to being in prison.It kind of made my day as I just lost my mother the other day at age 90 of heart and lungs collapsing”

    At the time I asked what his point was. Like the Beatles in 1964, I got “no reply.”

    “This is. Nuts.She should never be released to kill again!”

    Not quite what she had in mind unless she’s a better actress than any you care to name.
    OK Cybele, I am being a little tongue in cheek but John, sense and facts have yet to develop in the music biz as a power trio of note….

  33. Cybele Moon says:

    Fair enough! But even getting his facts straight, ( I’m not sure I ever have all the facts straight lol) I’m sure it won’t change his mind, It’s interesting. I read Mr. Pfieffer’s court petition and I hadn’t realized how many to date have signed a petition against her release (last parole hearing it was I think, around 150,000, now over 170,000!). That’s more against than any of the other “Mansonites” have, which I do find interesting (check Manson Family Petition). Van Houten seems to stir the most controversy and rancour. What would a psychologist say about that? Whatever my feelings are about whether any of them should be freed, after having a brief exchange with him I believe Rich Pfieffer is acting on his own good conscience and not to write a book. However, I’m not sure about his statement that most who signed that petition don’t have the facts. That we cannot know. Anyway, hope everyone is coping during this health crisis. May we all live in interesting times!!

  34. Billy Esquire says:

    I think it’s pretty telling that California is about to release up to 8,000 people from state prisons to curb the spread of Covid-19 throughout the prison system, but not Leslie Van Houten…..oh No, No, No!

    The nearly 71 year old Van Houten, who has been a perfect prisoner for over 50 years and has been recommended for parole by the Parole Board (how many times now), is simply too dangerous! Yeah, right! 🙄

    Maybe she will get out when California defunds the prisons! No, not even then! They would probably build Leslie a Special Prison, just for her! 😂

  35. Rich Pfeiffer says:

    When people sign the petition BEFORE the transcripts of the parole hearing are available, there is no way for them to have all of the facts. Each hearing is different. I AM NOT writing a book, just trying to get Leslie released pursuant to how the law applies to her sentence.

  36. SHERRI HELMS says:

    69 times? Never heard that before.

  37. Matthew says:

    I read so many comments about how none of these people should ever get out and so on, but to me that is not the issue here. Leslie was sentenced to 6 years to life with the possibility of parole. She has served 50 and has been a model prisoner. She has met all the criteria for release. This really should be about the law and not emotion. If they have no intention ever giving her parole, than they should not dangle that carrot in front of her. To me that is cruel and unusual punishment. The only reason that she is still in prison is because her name is linked to an infamous and brutal murder. Any politician that allows a “manson killer” to be released is committing political suicide. Therefore, that makes Leslie a political prisoner. I have also read that another reason for the parole to be denied in the past is the heinousness of the the hell is she supposed to change that ??

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