Manson Murderer Leslie Van Houten Up For Parole For 21st Time
Former Manson family member Leslie Van Houten asked for her freedom today in front of the state parole board for the 21st time.
Leslie Van Houten, now 66, has been in prison for 46 years for the murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Thursday morning, she sat before a state parole board to request that she be released from prison, the L.A. Times reports. She has been denied parole 20 times in the past.
Van Houten grew up in Altadena and once was her high school's prom queen. She met Charles Manson in 1968 when she was 19 years old through people she met at a commune. She became the youngest member of his "Family," taking LSD and becoming immersed in his rhetoric. On August 9, 1969, Van Houten accompanied fellow Manson Family members Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins, Steve Grogan and Linda Kasbian to the Los Feliz home of Rosemary and Leno LaBianca. Van Houten held Rosemary LaBianca down as Watson stabbed her, then Van Houten took her turn. LaBianca was stabbed a total of 47 times, several of those wounds made after she had died. Van Houten has often maintained that she only stabbed LaBianca after she was dead.
Van Houten was not present the night before during the murders on Cielo Drive, in which Atkins, Krenwinkel and Watson murdered actress Sharon Tate, hair stylist Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, and a friend of the home's caretaker, Steven Parent, while Kasbian waited outside the home in the car.
Van Houten was arrested in December of that year. She was convicted of murder on March 29, 1971 and sentenced to death. However, her sentenced was changed to life in prison in 1972 after People v. Anderson invalidated all death sentences in the state of California before 1972.
Van Houten has renounced Manson, and has testified that she is "deeply ashamed" of her past. Her lawyer, Richard Pfeiffer, claims that Van Houten is no longer a risk to public safety, and should therefore be released.
"The only violent thing she has ever done in her entire life was this crime and that was under the control of Charles Manson," he said, according to the Associated Press.
Van Houten was last up for parole in 2013. Debra Tate, the sister of Sharon Tate, has started a petition opposing Van Houten's release, stating that she hasn't shown enough remorse and isn't to be trusted.
Most Manson family members are still behind bars. Linda Kasbian was granted immunity in exchange for her testimony, and Steve Grogan was paroled in 1985. Manson member Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, who was not involved in the Tate-LaBianca murders, but did try to assassinate President Gerald R. Ford in 1975, was paroled in 2009. Atkins died in 2009 while still incarcerated, and the rest of the Manson family, including 81-year-old Manson, are all still in prison. Bruce Davis—who was not involved in the Tate-LaBianca murders, but who was convicted of the murder of Spahn Ranch worker Donald Shea and Gary Hinman—was recommended parole by the parole board in 2014, but Gov. Jerry Brown denied it, saying, "The exceptional brutality of these crimes and the terror the Manson family inflicted on the Los Angeles community 45 years ago still resonate."