Former Manson family member Leslie Van Houten has been recommended for parole, nearly 50 years after her conviction for helping to kill a wealthy California couple.
Now 66, Van Houten has been denied parole 20 times. Thursday’s recommendation that she be released was met with heavy criticism from victims’ families.
She was 19, and the youngest member of Charles Manson’s family of killers, when she participated in the slayings of Leno LaBianca, a wealthy grocer, and his wife, Rosemary, on Aug. 10, 1969.
She did not participate in the grisly murders of actress Sharon Tate and her houseguests the night before in the Hollywood Hills.
Her attorney, Richard Pfeiffer, says Van Houten deserves to be freed and has been a model prisoner over the years by teaching other inmates to read and write.
Van Houten also has spoken to several interviewers throughout the decades she has been locked up, expressing remorse for her actions and saying she understood that she deserved to be imprisoned for her actions.
“The way Leslie’s trying to make amends is to try to pay it forward by helping other people. That’s all she can do,” Pfeiffer said.
Tate’s sister, Debra, says Van Houten doesn’t deserve parole. “These are predatory killers,” she told IE. "I can't tell you what an injustice this is."
Van Houten’s parole recommendation next goes to an administrative review panel. If it is approved, Gov. Jerry Brown has final say on whether Van Houten is released.