(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday blocked parole for Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, reversing a panel’s recommendation that she be freed after spending a half-century in prison.
Van Houten, 72, “currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time,” Newsom said in his parole review. This was her fifth rejection by a California governor.
Rich Pfeiffer her attorney, refuted this view and stated that the court will appeal the decision. He accused Newsom of rejecting parole because he is worried about “his political future” and noted that Van Houten has a spotless prison disciplinary record.
“We’re not fighting (over) Leslie being a good person. She’s proven that through her actions for half a century,” he said.
Van Houten was sentenced for her role in helping Manson, Rosemary and other cult members to kill Leno and Rosemary LaBianca (Los Angeles Grocer) in August 1969. Van Houten was 19 when she and other cult members fatally stabbed the LaBiancas and smeared the couple’s blood on the walls.
A day earlier, four other Manson-followers, in addition to Van Houten had murdered Sharon Tate (pregnant actress), and two others.
In his rejection letter, Newsom noted that Van Housen had undergone therapy, earned educational degrees and taken self-help classes in prison and had shown “increased maturity and rehabilitation.”
But Van Houten also has “gaps in insight” that continue to make her a danger to society, Newsom said.
Van Houten had 21 parole hearings between 1982 and 2002. Most parole boards denied her bid for freedom. Five panels recommended her freedom in 2016, stating that she was remorseful and no threat to the public’s safety.
Newsom disapproved of a November recommendation.
He has previously reversed parole recommendations for 2019 and 2020. In February, the California Supreme Court refused to hear Van Houten’s appeal of the 2020 rejection.
Former Gov. Jerry Brown rejected Van Houten’s parole in 2016 and 2018.
Manson, who was serving a life sentence at the time, died naturally in a California hospital.
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