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Charles Manson follower seeks freedom, more than 40 years after LaBianca murders

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/images/2008/10/30/vanhouten.jpgLeslie Van Houten will ask before a parole board on Tuesday to be released from prison -- four decades after being convicted in the Manson murders.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/photos/uncategorized/2009/03/18/charles_manson1968_2009_2.jpgVan Houten, 60, was convicted in the 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home in Los Feliz. She has sought parole more than a dozen times -- and has always been rejected.

Leslie Van Houten, a former homecoming princess from Monrovia, became alienated from her family as a teenager and said she was introduced to Manson by a boyfriend. She said she came to view Manson as Jesus Christ and believed in his bizarre plan to commit murders and blame African Americans in hopes of sparking a race war.

"I'm deeply ashamed of it," she told a parole board in 2002. "I take very seriously not just the murders but what made me make myself available to someone like Manson."

Van Houten has been characterized by supporters as the least culpable member of the so-called Manson family. She did not take part in the Aug. 9, 1969, killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others at Tate's rented Benedict Canyon home.

Leslie Van HoutenShe did, however, willingly join Manson and others the following night when they invaded the LaBianca home, chosen at random. She held down Rosemary LaBianca while she was stabbed by an accomplice and, when told to "do something" by cohort Charles "Tex" Watson, she stabbed the woman about two dozen times in the back.

Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Stephen Kay told a parole board in 2002 that such "vicious" acts make parole for Van Houten at any time unwise. Kay, who took part in four of the Manson trials, has attended all 58 parole hearings for each of the five imprisoned murderers.

-- Shelby Grad

Photos, from top: Charles Manson, then and now. Credits: Los Angeles Times / State of California.  Leslie Van Houten at her 2002 parole hearing. Credit: Los Angeles Times. From left, Patricia Krenwinkel, Susan Atkins and Leslie Van Houten enter court on Feb. 11. 1971, during the penalty phase of their trial. Credit: Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (93)

No. The original sentence for each of these people was death. They owe their continued existence to the Supreme Court decision which resulted in the commutation of their sentences to life. If these heinous acts were committed today, they would likely be facing a death sentence, or at least life without parole. They chose their path knowing what the penalty would likely be. Let them stay in prison where they belong.

No. The original sentence for each of these people was death. They owe their continued existence to the Supreme Court decision which resulted in the commutation of their sentences to life. If these heinous acts were committed today, they would likely be facing a death sentence, or at least life without parole. They chose their path knowing what the penalty would likely be. Let them stay in prison where they belong.

Let her go already. Even Bugliosi agrees they have served their time. She is not a threat to society. She was a young girl brainwashed by a sadistic cult leader. She deserves some sympathy, too.

She would have been executed years ago but for Jerry Brown's appointees to the Calif. Supreme Court, which threw out the death penalty. Just one more reason we don't want Brown back as governor again.

Let's make the leap that our penal system actually works and let this woman go. How long was she with Manson, a year maybe? The point of putting people in prison is to punish, rehabilitate, then release. Judges and parole boards are there to make sensible decisions about whether someone is rehabilitated or not. If these people think that, after 40 years, this 60-year old woman is going to go out and murder someone again, then they should be removed from their jobs and be replaced with people who are intelligent, thoughtful, and guided more by what is right than any political, social, or religious motivations.

I remember when after they were caught they had no regrets and liked the publicity. They were quite proud of themselves. Leave her in prison.

This is a total non-story. Even if the parole board were to grant parole, it then goes to the governor. Does anyone believe ANY sitting governor would grant ANY member of the Manson Family parole -- ever? Won't happen, even if the governor was a lame duck, it would adversely affect his party. NONE of the Manson family is ever getting out of prison vertically.

Look at her. Look at Charles Manson. Old people who were stupid young people. Yes they've changed. We all have changed. But they committed a horrendous crime and should spend the rest of their lives in prison. Old people should be full of wisdom and knowledge. These old people are idiots.

Van Houten has the best chance of any convicted Manson family member to be paroled. Unfortunately for her, that chance is "slim and none." And "slim" has left the building!

I remember well the fear during the Manson rampage. Sharon Tate and her baby have no options, why should this woman?

Why do people persist in trying to free this murderer? Lock the door and throw away the key. Only when the LaBiancas are again able to walk this earth, should Van Houten be allowed to be free.

SHE DESERVES NO SYMPATHY, SHE HELD DOWN A WOMAN BEING MURDERED! IM SORRY I DONT THINK ANY OF THESE ANIMALS DESERVE "SYMPATHY" OR PAROLE!!!!!

NO...plain and simple: NO

First...kudos to the Times staff for not doing a sidebar poll to accompany this story. (Alright, I am a bit curious to see how readers feel about this subject). As the son of a police officer and brother to four others I tend to favor life sentences for murderers but every instinct I have makes me believe Van Houten has served the length of time her crime merits. Just make sure Squeaky Fromme takes her place.

To Manon...regarding your post that "She is no longer a threat to society" CAN YOU GUARANTEE THAT? That is what they said when HUKABEE let Maurice Clemmons out and he proceeded to kill 4 cops in cold blood!! I bet you would be the 1st to cry foul if she got out and moved next door to your family!!!

To Manon...regarding your post that "She is no longer a threat to society" CAN YOU GUARANTEE THAT? That is what they said when HUKABEE let Maurice Clemmons out and he proceeded to kill 4 cops in cold blood!! I bet you would be the 1st to cry foul if she got out and moved next door to your family!!!

She assisted in the murders of two human beings.
They, the victims, cannot be paroled; The LaBiancas will not get a second chance at life, why should one of the individuals responsible for taking their lives be given that chance?

Let her and all the others involved rot where thay stand today.

Can Leno and Rosemary LaBianca get their lives back? No, and neither should she.

If she was released with her $200 where would she go? Welfare and public housing. I'd rather her be paid for in there than out here.

Let her go through the same process as any other inmate. If the parole board sees fit to parole her, then so be it. If not, then that is their decision as well. She probably is no longer a threat to society, but she probably would not be able to cope on the outside since she has been in jail throughout all of her adult life. The parole board will have to assess these things. If she has not acquired any marketable skills while in prison, it would be best to simply leave her there.

She should have been put to death...oh wait she was and our liberal state commuted her sentence to life in prison. She should die in prison. No do overs for her. The people she killed cannot have do overs so she needs to stay there and rot!

She was brainwashed at the time, has served suitable time, and is not a threat to anyone. Let her go.

How much money would the State of CA gain by re;leasing this woman?

Maybe nothing as she would collect welfare.

I have followed LVH for a number of years and have come to these conclusions: Did she commit a hideous, virtually unforgiveable crime? Yes.

Has she over the last 40-plus years gained some understanding of the crime and her part in it? Absolutely.

Is she now a threat to herself or society? No.

Are "virtually unforgiveable crimes" ever forgiveable? Yes, I think they are. There is no purpose in keeping her in prison. She is no longer a threat to anyone, and might actually make a really serious contribution in helping all of us to understand and prevent such unthinkable crimes in the future.

WRONG Michael!
When a young adult or even a minor participates in a planned, vicious and violent attack that tortures another human being over protracted time: they KNOW the deal.
Prison, if not the death penalty is to punish, to remember the value of the victim and the weight of such an irreversible crime.
Rehab is more appropriate for crimes like theft, or non violent ones that don't result in permanent scarring or injury of the victims.

But violence as what happened in the Tate/LaBianca murders deserved death.
Dangerous people don't stop being so because they are behind bars. There is no way to measure what they'll do once free. And the public shouldn't be at risk just to find out.
And paroled criminals HAVE been given the opportunity to reoffend with murder.
So NO, what part of life in prison don't criminals and their defenders like this don't they understand?
If THAT has no meaning, if the death of their victims doesn't either, then why have prison in the first place?

 
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