LOS ANGELES (CBS SF/AP) — For a fourth time, a California prison board has recommended that Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, serving time for the gruesome murders of Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969, be paroled after spending nearly five decades in prison.
But the decision on whether or not she walks out of the women’s prison in Chino rests in the hands of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has already blocked her release once before.READ MORE: Early Morning Earthquake Cluster Rattles Central Coast
Former Gov. Jerry Brown also blocked Van Houten’s release twice while he was in office.
After a hearing at the women’s prison in Chino, commissioners of the Board of Parole Hearings found that Van Houten was suitable for release. After a 120-day review process, her case will again rest with Newsom.
“As with any parole suitability recommendation, when the case reaches the Governor’s Office, it will be carefully reviewed on its merits,” Vicky Waters, Newsom’s press secretary, said in a statement.
Van Houten, 70, is serving a life sentence for helping Manson and others kill Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969.
Van Houten was 19 when she and other cult members fatally stabbed the LaBiancas, carved up Leno LaBianca’s body and smeared the couple’s blood on the walls.READ MORE: Oakland Police Intensify Sideshow Crackdown As Violence Escalates
The slayings came the day after other Manson followers, not including Van Houten, killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others.
Details of the parole hearing weren’t immediately released but Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, said in an email that it “went really well.”
Pfeiffer said he expects Newsom to reverse the decision again, “but the courts will have a harder time denying a writ than they did in the past.”
In May, an appeals court denied Pfeiffer’s request to release Van Houten on bail or her own recognizance. His motion argued that her age put her at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and noted that another prisoner in her housing unit had been infected.
At her 2017 parole hearing, Van Houten described a troubled childhood. She said she was devastated when her parents divorced when she was 14. Soon after, she said, she began hanging out with her school’s outcast crowd and using drugs. When she was 17, she and her boyfriend ran away to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District during the city’s Summer of Love.
She was traveling up and down the California coast when acquaintances led her to Manson. He was holed up at an abandoned movie ranch on the outskirts of Los Angeles where he had recruited what he called a “family” to survive what he insisted would be a race war he would launch by committing a series of random, horrifying murders.MORE NEWS: Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Shipments Could Arrive As Soon As Monday
Manson died in 2017 of natural causes at a California hospital while serving a life sentence.