The Second District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles ruled 2-1 yesterday that Leslie Van Houten, one of the Manson cult members who murdered Leno LaBianca, an LA grocer and his wife, Rosemary in 1969, should be released from prison on parole. The ruling reverses an earlier decision by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who rejected parole for Van Houten in 2020. Van Houten was 19 at the time of the LaBianca murders. She has been recommended for parole five times since 2016. Newsom’s predecessor, former Gov. Jerry Brown, rejected the first set of paroles; Newsome has continued the pattern.
Now Van Houten is 73, still serving a life sentence .Newsom has said that she still poses a danger to society, which seems ridiculous. The court stated that there is “no evidence to support the Governor’s conclusions” about Van Houten’s fitness for parole. “Van Houten has shown extraordinary rehabilitative efforts, insight, remorse, realistic parole plans, support from family and friends, favorable institutional reports, and, at the time of the Governor’s decision, had received four successive grants of parole,” the judges wrote. “Although the Governor states Van Houten’s historical factors ‘remain salient,’ he identifies nothing in the record indicating Van Houten has not successfully addressed those factors through many years of therapy, substance abuse programming, and other efforts.”
Newsom can still request that California Attorney General Rob Bonta petition the state Supreme Court to stop her release. The real question is whether one believes in rehabilitation or not. Hers was certainly a horrible crime. Van Houten and other cult members carved up Leno LaBianca’s body and smeared the couple’s blood on the walls of their home the day after other Manson followers, not including Van Houten, slaughtered pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in one of the most infamous mass murders in U.S. history.
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