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.


  1. I agree that Leslie is responsible for her actions and that for a long time she wasn't remorseful but I think Leslie has changed and has been rehabilitated and deserves parole. I know a majority don't agree with me but I'm sorry that is how I feel. Had this not been tied to the same murder that killed Sharon Tate leslie and the other offenders for that matter would have been freed YEARS ago due to the laws in place at the time. I will say this though, I think Leslie is the only one that deserves parole.

  2. I agree that Leslie is responsible for her actions and that for a long time she wasn't remorseful but I think Leslie has changed and has been rehabilitated and deserves parole. I know a majority don't agree with me but I'm sorry that is how I feel. Had this not been tied to the same murder that killed Sharon Tate leslie and the other offenders for that matter would have been freed YEARS ago due to the laws in place at the time. I will say this though, I think Leslie is the only one that deserves parole.

  3. Hi Roger,

    Thanks for your comment. May I ask why you think Leslie has been rehabilitated? Governor Brown decided that she could not adequately explain how she went from a homecoming queen to a murderer and I have to think that plays somewhat into rehabilitation.

    I am also always reminded that Vincent Bugliosi believed she was the LEAST devoted of Manson's followers. That's pretty scary if you think about it. She wasn't as passionate about Manson and sold on his brand of crazy and yet she was still willing to kill and kill for him (according to her.) She was also willing to die for him back in 1970-1971, as she didn't want her defense attorney to sever her case from the others.

    I feel that she and the others were given mercy their victims were not when their death sentences were commuted. Life should mean life. If she's truly remorseful, good. Then she has learned something. But she should stay in prison.

  4. If you don't know why one might feel Leslie is rehabilitated, then you've done zero research of her life past the "trial of the century" that was actually nearly half a century ago. Not to excuse her actions but she's long since served her time. Overwhelmng evidence has indisputable proven her "rehabilitated" (as have a couple of dozen psychiatrists, experts, and even wardens have vouched for this. As for your OPINION of life "should" be life... maybe so, but in Cali it's not LIFE unless is LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE. You dont like? Take it up with your officials who make the laws, but careful cause they are the first to corrupt the very law they impose, or ignore. Due Process of Law requires Leslie Van Houten to be released. There is not a shred of evidence to show ANYTHING BUT PAROLE SUITABILITY. Will she ever get it? probably not, but dont think that makes it right, and certainly if you feel Due process is not important, then youre in the wrong country....unless its a high profile case, then law means little, and the opinions of an ignorant populas is favored.

    1. lulu, I never said I didn't know why one might feel Van Houten is rehabilitated. I simply said in my OPINION (as you capitalized) that she is not. And while there are some psychiatrists and others who feel she should be paroled, there are many others (as evidenced by Debra Tate's petition), including Governor Jerry Brown, who believe she should stay where she is.

      Furthermore, when Van Houten was convicted, her jury of peers voted to sentence her to death. This jury sat for the entire trial, witnessed Van Houten in person, heard her testimony, heard the testimony of the coroner and the first responders at the crime scene and viewed crime scene photos. Were it not for California ruling the death penalty unconstitutional, Leslie would have paid for her crimes with her life. Only the death penalty being taken off the table for a time commuted her sentence to life with the possibility of parole, not the verdict of her jury.

      The law does not require that Leslie, or anyone else with a life sentence, be released. Due process of the law here in California is that once your sentence has been served, you are required to be released. In other words, if you are sentenced to 15 years, and provided you incur no further infractions, you are required by law to be paroled after serving those 15 years. Parole laws always seem to be changing but this is the basic standard.
      Leslie was sentenced to life. That means she has the privilege of parole hearings in which the parole board make recommendations as to whether or not they believe she is fit to re-enter society. That recommendation is then passed to the governor, who has the deciding say for the state if the state is convinced that the inmate is ready to return to society. Being "ready" involves a lot of factors - - is the inmate likely to reoffend? has the inmate been rehabilitated? has the inmate shown remorse for his or her crime? does the inmate have a support system outside the prison? where will the inmate live and work?

      It's a lot of factors that go into the enter process and clearly Governor Brown did not believe that Leslie Van Houten was ready and/or fit. So clearly there was at least something that indicated lack of parole suitability.

      For the record, I never said I did not feel due process was unimportant. That was your assumption based on my post. Again, it's my opinion, which I have a right to, just as you have a right to yours. You think Van Houten should be paroled; I do not.

  5. You asked why does someone think Leslie Van Houten was rehabilitated, so i gave my opinion. As for the law, your use of vague words for the law works well for people who ignore the relevant factors here. Van Houten's sentence is a life sentence yes But in California Life does not mean life unless it's life without parole. Take a look at the LAW for determining parole SUITABILITY. It specifically states an individual is required to be released if they are not a CURRENT danger to the public. Also, the crime factors are not allowed to be used as a reason to deny, or show the risk. (I'm pretty sure whether the inmate was a homecoming princess 50 years ago is also irrelevant)....As for Tate and Gov, please spare us all from total ignorance to political media corruption; As that is why Van Houten is in prison. Yes we all have our opinions about whether she DESERVES parole, i respect that. But the FACT is, the law is indisputably clear in which, in this case, parole is required based on the OVERWHELMING evidence that supports suitability..

  6. lulu, I asked for opinions on whether readers believed she had been rehabilitated, yes. But in your first post, you accused me of having done zero research if I didn't understand how someone could feel she had. I never said I couldn't understand why someone would feel that way, I asked for opinions on who did. That's all.

    I stand by what I posted above. A life sentence is NOT a guarantee of being released. In fact, some life sentences are not eligible for parole in California.

    You can wave off Debra Tate if you like but the governor has the right to make the decision. And his decision was upheld by a Superior Court judge, who agreed in part due to the brutality of the crimes and her inability to explain her participation in them.

    Leslie Van Houten isn't in prison because of political media corruption. She's in prison because she participated in at least two extremely brutal murders. She may remain in prison partly because of the notoriety of the crimes but the decisions made thus far to keep her incarcerated are well within the discretion of the parole board, the governor and the courts.

  7. Your still stuck in 1970. Yes a jury of her peers choose the death sentence, but that is probably because Leslie's was tried with the others. That would not fly these days at all. More importantly, Van Houten has had TWO trials since the 71' verdict. One jury was hung because they did not support murder in the 1st degree. The other jury was essentially forced to a guilty verdict because the DA stephen kay, attached felony murder to the charge which is still first degree, but not with intent. The reason, because of the robbery of some change and cheese. so please spare me your drama of trying to make it seem like it is not 48 fkn years later. I take back my comment about your opinion, i have no respect for condescending and total ignorance. Im done here Take care now.

  8. Furthermore, Leslie was the only defendant whose 1970 verdict was overturned.. The 1970 trial and verdict does not even exist for (only) leslie van houten per law! Which is prime example of how your opinion and such, is irrelevant! Now Im done here thanks!

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  10. Let's talk about the trials, if you like. Leslie was granted a retrial in 1977 on a legal technicality - a mistrial was not declared when her attorney (Ronald Hughes) died during the original trial. The 1977 jury could not reach a verdict; the jury foreman said they had an issue deciding whether her judgment had been impaired or not from drug usage. In the second retrial, yes, the prosecutors introduced that she had stolen from the LaBiancas during the course of the murders. That was their judgment call; Leslie did steal from the residence. Was it a huge amount? No, but the state had the right to introduce it.

    Regardless, no jury was "forced" into a guilty verdict. Leslie admitted to stabbing Rosemary. She was guilty. There was no conspiracy. Leslie knew what her group of friends had done in July of 1969 (Gary Himan) and she knew what they had done the night before. She surely knew what was up when she accompanied them that night. She wasn't stupid. It was first degree murder, plain and simple.

    Honestly, I don't know why you continue to post here. I'm not the one being dramatic, you are. You accuse me of being condescending - you have called me ignorant and my opinion irrelevant. Being condescending would be pointing out that it's "you're," not "your." I've said you are entitled to your opinion, as I am entitled to mine. Because my opinion is not the same as yours does not make it any less valid or irrelevant. I haven't stooped to your level and said that you are ignorant based on your thoughts (although you do seem mighty confrontational and defensive.)

    I'll continue to stand by what I've said. I believe Leslie, as well as the rest of the Manson gang, should die in prison. Period.