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Former Altadena Native and Manson Follower Van Houton Released From Prison

Published on Tuesday, July 11, 2023 | 1:55 pm

Leslie Van Houten arrives at the Criminal Courts Building in Los Angeles for a rearraignment and hearing on setting a new trial date for her role in the LaBianca murders in December, 1976. [John Malmin/ Los Angeles Times]
Former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten was released from a California prison on Tuesday.

Van Houten, now 73, was serving a potential life prison sentence for taking part in the infamous murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their Los Feliz home more than 50 years ago as part of the Charles Manson family.

The former Monrovia High School cheerleader — who was 19 at the time – did not participate in the Manson family’s killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in a Benedict Canyon mansion the night before.

Van Houten was born in Altadena and was a homecoming princess at Monrovia High School in 1966.

Van Houten was originally paroled earlier this year. In the 2-1 ruling by the panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal, Associate Justice Helen I. Bendix wrote, “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.

Her release comes four days after Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced it would no longer challenge her parole grant. Newsom had rejected parole for Van Houten on three occasions during his time in office, but a state appeals court in May rejected his most recent denial of parole.

Newsom had blocked parole for Van Houten in March 2022, writing that, “Given the extreme nature of the crime in which she was involved, I do not believe she has sufficiently demonstrated that she has come to terms with the totality of the factors that led her to participate in the vicious Manson Family killings. Before she can be safely released, Ms. Van Houten must do more to develop her understanding of the factors that caused her to seek acceptance from such a negative, violent influence, and perpetrate extreme acts of wanton violence.”

A state parole board had recommended parole for Van Houten in November 2021, marking the fifth time for such a decision.

Van Houten, was convicted of murder and conspiracy for participating with fellow Manson family members Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel in the August 1969 killings of grocer Leno LaBianca, 44, and his 38- year-old wife, Rosemary, who were each stabbed multiple times in their Los Feliz home.

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