Charles Manson's Youngest Follower is Approved for Parole After More Than 40 Years in Prison
Leslie Van Houten was 19 when she participated in the gruesome murders of two Los Angeles grocery store owners.
The youngest member of Charles Manson's murderous cult has been recommended for parole.
After more than 40 years in prison and nearly two dozen appearances before a parole board, Leslie Van Houten may finally be free.
However, she must still get over the political hurdle of approval from a governor who could face public backlash and who chose to reject the recommendation when Van Houten got it for the first time last year.
Brown's reluctance comes as no surprise to those familiar with Van Houten's role in the slayings of Los Angeles grocers Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home in 1969.
Van Houten was not with the group that slaughtered pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others on Aug. 9, 1969, but she did accompany some of her fellow Manson followers to the LaBianca home the following day.
Van Houten testified at trial that she and another woman held down Rosemary LaBianca as the victim begged for her life. After the other woman stabbed LaBianca — perhaps fatally — Van Houten stabbed her 14 times.
The former homecoming queen was just 19 at the time. Her supporters would later argue she was under the influence of LSD at the time, in addition to Manson's supposed mind control.
Since she was sentenced to seven years to life in prison with the possibility of parole, Van Houten has been a model prisoner and even earned both a bachelor's and master's degree while behind bars.
Members of the LaBianca family have periodically spoken out against Van Houten's release, as has Sharon Tate's sister.
Van Houten's attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, told reporters his client may still see her parole rejected by Gov. Jerry Brown. He nonetheless vowed to secure her release.
"If he rejects it, we’ll go back to court," Pfeiffer said. "I’m not going away, and she’s going home."
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