Leslie Van Houten: Manson family member to be granted parole, California appeals court rules

Stan Lim/AP

Leslie Van Houten attended a 2017 parole hearing in Corona, California.


The California Court of Appeals has led the way Leslie Van HoutenA former Charles Manson follower and convicted felon will be granted parole – but a long legal battle lies ahead.

The judgment of the trial court is reversed 2020 result California Gov. Gavin Newsom denied Van Houten’s release even after the California Board of Parole Hearings recommended it, according to an opinion filed Tuesday.

Van Houten, now in his 70s, was 19 when he met Charles Manson Joined a murderous cult known as the “Manson Family”. He is serving a concurrent sentence of seven years to life after being convicted of murdering supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in their home in 1971.

While the court’s opinion vacates Newsom’s denial, a legal battle is expected, Van Houten’s attorney, Nancy Detrault, told CNN.

The California Attorney General’s Office expects to file a petition for review with the state Supreme Court, which will decide how to move forward.

Detralt expects the attorney general’s office to file a request for a restraining order so Van Houten will not be freed while the case is pending, which Detralt said it strongly opposes.

In his 2020 parole denial, Newsom said, “Given the serious nature of the crime he engaged in, I do not believe he has sufficiently demonstrated that he came to the full extent of the factors that led him to participate. The Brutal Manson Family Murders.”

“There is no evidence to support the governor’s conclusions,” the Second District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles said Tuesday.

“Van Houten provided a detailed explanation of the factors that led to his interaction with Manson and the commission of the murders, and the record does not support a conclusion that there were hidden factors that Van Houten failed to account for. The governor’s refusal to accept Van Houten’s explanation amounts to unsupported intuition,” the opinion said.


Leslie Van Houten is seen in a Los Angeles lockup in this March 29, 1971, file photo.

The state attorney general’s office referred a request for comment to Newsom’s office, which told CNN it had no additional information to share at this time.

If the appeals court’s decision is final, the case will be sent back to the Parole Hearing Board to consider recent developments that justify revoking the parole grant, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which has a parole hearing panel, told CNN.

“If there is no such change or new information, the board will issue a release note and CDCR will process the individual’s release,” department spokeswoman Mary Jimenez said in a statement.

Following his conviction, Van Houten was sentenced to death, but the death sentence was overturned and his sentence commuted to life imprisonment. He first became eligible for parole in 1977.

Newsom’s 2020 denial is his fourth, following previous parole denials in 2016, 2017 and 2019, including two by former Gov. Jerry Brown. Since the 2020 denial, Newsom Rejected the fifth amnesty recommendation Last year.

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