Jul. 23 – Leslie Van Houten was found suitable for parole at a hearing held today by the California Board of Parole Hearings. This was Van Houten’s fourth consecutive parole suitability recommendation.
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 during the trial.
Van Houten was retried in 1977, resulting in a hung jury. She was retried the following year and that time, convicted and sentenced to seven years to life. Because of time served on her original sentence, Van Houten was already eligible for parole when she returned to prison in August of 1978.
Van Houten, now 70, has been denied parole 19 times since becoming eligible in 1978. She was recommended for parole at her 2016, 2017 and 2019 hearings. Each grant however, was reversed by the governor.
Due to COVID-19, today’s decision will undergo an expedited review by the Board of Parole Hearings. Then it will be reviewed by Governor Gavin Newsom, who will either confirm, reverse or modify the parole grant. The decision will be finalized no later than November 20th.
Van Houten is also waiting on a California Supreme Court ruling regarding Governor Gavin Newsom’s reversal of her 2019 parole recommendation. Earlier this month, Van Houten petitioned the state’s high court to weigh in on the decision. The court gave the attorney general until Monday to file in opposition.