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Manson Murderer Leslie Van Houten Denied Parole For The 21st Time

Leslie Van Houten leaving court in 1977. (Photo from the Herald-Examiner Collection, via the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection)
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Leslie Van Houten, the Manson Family member who was convicted of the 1969 murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, has been denied parole for the 21st time.Governor Jerry Brown explained in a statement his decision to deny parole, writing, "Both [Van Houten's] role in these extraordinarily brutal crimes and her inability to explain her willing participation in such horrific violence cannot be overlooked and lead me to believe she remains an unreasonable risk to society if released," per Rolling Stone.

Brown continued, saying, "it remains unclear how and why Van Houten drastically transformed from an exceptionally smart, driven young woman, class secretary and homecoming princess, to a member of one of the most notorious cults in history."

For those who need a refresher, Van Houten, the youngest member of the Family at 19, accompanied several other Manson followers to the home of the LaBiancas in Los Feliz on August 9, 1969. She testified that she held down Rosemary LaBianca as Watson stabbed her, before stabbing the woman herself. Investigators found that Rosemary had been stabbed more than 40 times, though Van Houten has repeatedly claimed to have only stabbed her after she was already dead. (If you want much, much more, we highly recommend the enthralling 10-part series chronicling the Manson murders on the podcast "You Must Remember This".)

NBC L.A. reports that Brown came to the decision after L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey wrote a 5-page letter to him in which she wrote that Van Houten "lacks insight, genuine remorse and an understanding of the magnitude of her crimes."

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In April, the state parole board recommended that Van Houten receive parole, a decision based, according to the L.A. Times, on Van Houten's youth at the time of the crime, lack of previous violent crime as an adult, her length of incarceration, and her "spotless" record in prison: while in jail, Van Houten has earned both a bachelor's and master's degree, and runs self-help groups.

But, as Brown said in his statement, her perceived lack of remorse is reason enough to deny parole yet again. "Even two years after the murders, when interviewed by a psychologist, Van Houten admitted that, although she had no present desire to kill anyone, she would have no difficulty doing it again," read the statement.

Richard Pfeiffer, Van Houten's attorney, told the Times that he believed there was a reason for his client's "slide" into a life that was overtaken by the Family (and therefore, encouraged to murder): After her parent's nasty divorce, she was cast out from her wholesome group of friends and got pregnant. Her mother forced her to have an illegal abortion, and buried the fetus in their backyard. Her drug use—LSD, particularly—escalated.

"Tell me that wouldn't screw anybody up," he said.

Here she is being interviewed by Larry King:

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