Appeals Court Rules California Should Set Free ‘Manson Girl,’ Convicted Murderer Leslie Van Houten


According to the Associated Press, on Tuesday, the Second District Court of Appeals of Los Angeles ruled California’s prisons should release “Manson Girl” and convicted killer Leslie VanHouten.

A California appeals Court ruled Tuesday that Leslie Van Houten should be paroled out of prison after participating in two murders in 1969 at the command of cult-leader Charles Manson.

The appeals court reversed a previous decision made by the governor. Gavin Newsom rejected Van Houten’s parole in 2020. Five times she has been recommended to be paroled since 2016. Newsom and former Governor Jerry Brown both rejected all of these recommendations. Jerry Brown.

Newsom could ask that California Attorney-General Rob Bonta file a petition with the California Supreme Court to prevent her release. Bonta’s Office referred all questions to Newsom’s Office, which did not respond to inquiries about possible next steps.

The report continues:

Newsom denied her 2020 parole because he believed she had not sufficiently shown that she understood the full extent of what led her to take part in the Manson Family murders.

Newsom’s appeal was dismissed by the court of appeal on Tuesday.

The Second District Court of Appeal of Los Angeles’ opinion of Tuesday said that “there is no evidence” to support the conclusions of the Governor.

Van Houten gave a detailed explanation of the factors that led to her involvement in Manson’s murders and to her involvement as a Manson follower. The record does not support the conclusion that Van Houten failed to disclose any hidden factors. “The Governor’s refusal of Van Houten to accept her explanation is unsupported intuition,” said the opinion.

Van Houten belonged to a group that was led by Charles Manson. They committed a series shocking and senseless killings in August 1969 over a two-day period, including the murder of Sharon Tate.

Van Houten, a follower of Charles Manson, was convicted in 1971 for the murders of Leno LaBianca of a grocery store chain and his wife Rosemary on August 10, 1969. There are many theories as to the motive for the crime. One theory suggests that Manson wanted money from LaBianca who loved gambling. The murders occurred a day after Manson’s followers killed Sharon Tate, who shared a house with Roman Polanski. They also killed four others on the property. TIME magazine described the crime as “one of most senseless and grisliest crimes of the 20th century.”

Van Houten’s original sentence to death was in 1971. “….The death penalty was overturned, and her sentence was changed to life imprisonment. CNN reported that she first became parole-eligible in 1977.

Van Houten is now 70 years old. She was 19 when Charles Manson approached her and she joined the murderous group that became known as the “Manson Family.” She currently serves concurrent sentences ranging from seven to life.

In the middle of all these legal disputes, I am happy to share the one silver lining. Van Houten won’t be released any time soon, despite the decision of the appeals court:

CNN’s Nancy Tetreault said that while the court opinion voids Newsom’s refusal, there will be a legal fight.

Tetreault…expects that the Attorney General’s Office will file a motion to stay the release of Van Houten while the case is being reviewed. […]

Tetreault told AP she believes the California AG and Governor. Newsom, and presumably future governors, will ask the state Supreme Court to review this case, “a lengthy process.”