April 27, 2016

Should Leslie Van Houten Be Granted Parole?

Van Houten in 1970

Vincent Bugliosi predicted this, although he believed it would happen many years ago.  He did think that the Manson "girls" would be granted parole, paving the way for Tex Watson, Bruce Davis, Bobby Beausoleil and eventually Manson himself.   So this shouldn't be all that surprising.

The Manson "girls" aren't girls any longer.  Only two remain - - Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie Van Houten - - and both are in their sixties.  (The third, Susan Atkins, died where she should have - - still incarcerated and a guest of the State of California.)

Van Houten had her twenty-first parole appearance and the Board recommended that parole be granted.

This makes me angry.  I'm a resident of California and I don't want to see Leslie Van Houten (or any of the Merry Manson Band of Murderers) at my grocery store or in my neighborhood.   I know that some have said that she is the least culpable in the group of killers but killing is killing in my book.  She can whine all she wants about how Rosemary LaBianca was already dead when Leslie took a knife repeatedly to her back and it makes little difference to me.  Leslie held her down, Leslie aided and abetted Watson and Krenwinkle at the very least.  At most, she stabbed a woman who was still alive at the time.  Coroner Thomas Noguchi said that a number of Mrs. LaBianca's wounds were antemortem, meaning they occurred before death.  There is no way to say which wounds Van Houten delivered and which were delivered at the hands of Krenwinkle and/or Watson so I think it's best to err on the side of caution and assume that Mrs. LaBianca was still breathing when Van Houten attacked her.
Van Houten today

This is a woman who laughed and joked during the criminal trial, when witnesses were talking about the brutalization of the victims, their pleas for mercy and when her own life was on the line (she and her co-defendants received the death penalty.)    She admitted she felt no remorse for the victims' deaths, their pain or their loved ones' pain.  She admitted she only thought about Rosemary LaBianca while in the courtroom.  Within her first few years of incarceration, she was found to have a woman's prison guard uniform in her cell.  Until last month, she never admitted responsibility for her actions nor any remorse.  She blamed her actions on Charles Manson, on drugs, on her parents' divorce and on an abortion she had as a teenager.

To the finger pointing, I say this - - bitch, please.  We all deal with various shit in our lives.  Some of us have more to deal with than others.  Some of us handle that shit better than others.  None of it - - no matter how much or on what level - - justifies breaking into someone's house and slaughtering them.

I don't buy Van Houten's remorse.  I think she's a sociopath and this is just a calculated act in order to leave prison in something other than a pine box.

Something else about Van Houten scares me and that's this.  Bugliosi said himself that she was the least devoted of Manson's followers (and he should know.)  Think about that.  She was the least devoted out of this ragtag group and she was willing to kill strangers on his orders?  That's frightening.  What would she have done if she was utterly devoted to him?

If you don't believe that Manson ordered those murders, that would mean that Van Houten simply thrilled in killing.  Or maybe it's both.

Her attorney claims that this "violent act" was the only one of her life.  Not only would I hope so but isn't it enough?  Her "act" resulted in the violent and horrific deaths of two people that can never again live.  She has been given more compassion and mercy than the victims were.  They begged for their lives and were met with laughter, insults and the business end of a knife.  She and the others have been given the gift of parole hearings, of education, of families and of life.  Now she wants to beg and plead?  I say let's respond to her pleas with the same denial she gave her victims.  No business end of a knife but with a resounding "no."

While it's true that no amount of punishment will ever bring back the persons that were killed, punishment is punishment, justice is justice and life should mean life.

If she is granted parole, how long before Patricia Krenwinkle follows suit?  If Krenwinkle is granted parole, the clock will be ticking on the men.

Rosemary and Leno LaBianca
None of these people should get parole.  None of them.  I hope that Governor Jerry Brown is listening to the people and thinking about justice, the victims, the victims' families and what is right.

Sharon Tate's sister Debra started a petition to keep Van Houten in prison.   Add your name as a supporter here.

Let me know what you think.  Has Leslie Van Houten served her time?  Should she be paroled?  If so, why?  If you think she should remain in prison, give me your thoughts on that.

April 26, 2016

The Broderick Case: Was It About Money?

Linda and Dan, 1989

Betty and Dan, 1969

The Betty Broderick saga continues to be the most popular posts on this site.  For my previous posts go here and here.  It appears that the case still strikes a chord with many people, although opinions are as divided as Betty and Dan were.

A response to my original post on the case referenced Dan's greediness and suggested that perhaps if Dan had been more generous with regard to his settlement with Betty, the murders may not have happened.

So let's talk money and the Broderick case.

For what it's worth, I don't believe money was at the root of the murders. Let's put this into context.  It's true that Betty and Dan were living very well by the time he began an affair with Linda.  Betty had been a stay at home mother for years, rearing the children and keeping an immaculate home.  Prior to that, she had babysat and kept children to make ends meet while Dan attended medical school and then law school.  Yes, Dan got the education and it was his professional smarts that were bankrolling the homes, cars, jewelry and fabulous trips but without Betty's sacrifice and teamwork, he wouldn't have accomplished that.  By the time of their divorce in 1989, they had been married for nearly twenty years (although separated for the last few.)  Even so, Betty deserved a piece of the pie.

Prior to their divorce being finalized, Dan had been paying Betty an amount he deemed appropriate (albeit a hefty amount.)  Before you negate all sympathy for Betty, Dan also took it upon himself to financially penalize Betty for infractions such as leaving volatile messages on the answering machine and entering his home without approval.  Despite the frustrations such actions must have caused - - because Betty would often damage the premises - - he should not have had the right to deduct monies from her support.   Now, before you start feeling sorry for Dan, he did cheat on Betty for years while lying to her about it, all the while suggesting that not only was she crazy for thinking such a thing but she also needed to lose weight and do something about her appearance so that she would look younger.   So let's say they were both acting like jerks.

Betty had difficulty finding and keeping a family law attorney that would be willing to go up against Dan.  The legal community in general in a small one and no one in San Diego was willing to get on the wrong side of Dan Broderick.  Having dealt with a drawn out divorce myself, I can attest to feelings of frustration so great that you begin to feel mentally and emotionally unhinged.  Had I also had to deal with an ex who was an attorney himself and had connections all over the city that made my case difficult, I think I would have been on medication.  So I can imagine the stress Betty must have felt to not only be hitting the wall in an attorney search but going through these things when she didn't want the divorce at all.

Dan also allegedly sold their family home behind Betty's back, depending on who you believe.  I do think it's likely that Dan withheld funds and hid money from her but I also think that Betty did not want to deal with the sale of the home as it would firmly close the door on the marriage once and for all.

When a settlement was decided, with Betty of course not being happy about it, she was granted just over $16,000 per month.  That's a ton of money and this was in 1988-1989.  There is no reason she could not have lived very, very comfortably on that sum.   My opinion?  She didn't want to.  No amount of money would have pacified her because it wasn't about the money.  She didn't want the money.

She wanted Dan.  Not because she was in love with him because I don't believe she was.  She wanted him because she wanted the lifestyle.  She didn't want to fail.  And she didn't want Linda to have him.

Really, this is nothing new.  This same soap opera is playing out many times every day, although perhaps less likely by persons in their forties, as Dan and Betty were at the time.  What gets me though is why on earth Dan didn't change the locks of his house?  Not just at the end but years earlier, when Betty was leaving vitriolic messages on his machine, breaking items in the house and ruining his clothing?   Why didn't he tell her the truth when she confronted him way back in 1983 or 1984?   Why didn't he leave her sooner?  Why didn't he force the divorce sooner?

He was playing with fire.  Maybe he knew it, maybe not.  But it seems clear that he enjoyed tormenting Betty, if not the drama itself.     Just as Betty enjoyed tormenting him and Linda enjoyed tormenting Betty.  I said it in an earlier post but these adults were all acting like temperamental children.  Neither Dan nor Linda deserved to be murdered but neither were being very smart about antagonizing Betty.

I veered off a bit on the topic at hand but to state it briefly, I don't think money played a part in these murders.  Do I think Betty was humiliated by selling her La Jolla home?  Absolutely.  Do I think she hated living in a condo?  Sure.  Was she threatened by Dan?  Of course.  But I can't help wondering what may have been if she had just taken the alimony payments and kept her mouth shut.   She would have collected nearly $200,000 from Dan a year - -  that's nearly $400,000 in today's dollars.  Not a shabby bit of coin.

The bed, after
Speaking of money . . . did Linda fall in love with Dan because of his personality (despite the fact that he had a wife and children) or was it because of his power and money?  Did she fall in love with him at all or was she in love with what he could provide her with?

Was Dan in love with her?  Clearly money would not have been a motive for him but if he was in love with her, why did it take him so long to formally leave his wife, divorce her and marry Linda?  Did Dan ever love Betty?  (I'm guessing not.)

What do you think?  Did Betty kill for money?  Or partly because of money?  Did anyone in this twisted saga love anyone besides themselves?

The end result