Manson Family Killer Free Soon, Lawyer Says


Leslie van Houten, who was found guilty of participating in two murders as part of cult leader Charles Manson’s massacre in 1969, will be released on parole in a few weeks, her lawyer told AFP on Friday.

A spokesman for California Governor Gavin Newsom confirmed that he would not contest Van Houten’s release.

The 73-year-old Van Houten spent more than five decades behind bars when she took part in two murders in 1969 at the behest of Manson.

“She will be released on parole within the next few weeks,” lawyer Nancy Tetreault told AFP. “She is obviously excited, but also happy that the hard work she has done in rehabilitation is being recognized by the parole board and court. They found that she is not currently a danger to public safety.”

A spokesman for Newsom said he had successfully opposed Van Houten’s parole application three times, but would not oppose the application a fourth time.

“The governor is disappointed by the appeals court’s decision to release Van Houten, but will not take further action, as a further appeal will probably not be successful,” said Erin Mellon.

“The victims’ families continue to experience the violent impact, as do all other Californians, of the Manson Family murders in 1969,” Mellon added.

Members of the Manson cult committed at least nine violent murders in July and August 1969. It sent shockwaves right across southern California.

Among the victims was Sharon Tate, an actress and model who was married to director Roman Polanski.

Van Houten was found guilty for her part in the murder of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. The conviction was later overturned and the jury deadlocked in a second trial. Van Houten was sentenced to seven years to life in prison during a third court case.

The parole board found Van Houten suitable for parole in 2016, 2017 and 2019, but her release was blocked in court.

A psychological evaluation of Van Houten submitted as part of her application for parole determined that she has an “almost spotless disciplinary record in prison” but may experience anxiety upon release due to her notoriety.

Tetreault said that once she is released, Van Houten will “consider continuing her work as an educational supervisor”. She obtained a B grade and M grade in prison.

Manson was in custody at Corcoran Prison on January 1, 2017, when he was rushed to Mercy Hospital for internal bleeding. He died on November 19, 2017.