Former follower of Charles Manson's cult soon to be released after 50 years in prison
Steph Deschamps / July 9, 2023
Leslie Van Houten, convicted of two murders while a member of Charles Manson's cult in 1969, will soon be released after more than five decades in prison, her lawyer told AFP.
She will be released from prison on parole in the next few weeks," said Nancy Tetreault on Friday. The Governor of California has indicated that he will not oppose this release.
In the summer of 1969, members of Charles Manson's satanic cult wreaked havoc in California, committing at least nine brutal murders. Among their victims was actress and model Sharon Tate, then married to filmmaker Roman Polanski.
A devotee of the "Manson Family", Leslie Van Houten had been convicted of participating in the murder of a couple, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, in their Los Angeles home in August 1969. She was initially sentenced to death, but her sentence was later overturned, resulting in two further trials and a life sentence.
Her lawyer hailed her forthcoming release. "She is of course delighted, but beyond that, she is happy that her hard work to reintegrate has been recognized by the (prison) administration and the court, which concluded that she does not currently represent a risk to public safety," detailed Me Tetreault.
California Governor Gavin Newsom, who had won the court's rejection of the three previous release requests, will not oppose her release this time, his spokeswoman said. "The governor is disappointed by the appeals court's decision to release Ms. Van Houten, but will not take further action given the slim chance of success," said Erin Mellon. Victims' families are still "feeling the brutal impact" of the Manson Family murders, she added.
A psychological assessment of Ms. Van Houten, carried out as part of her application for release, stressed that her behavior in prison had been "virtually faultless" but that she might be prone to anxiety at the time due to her notoriety. Once out of prison, she "plans to continue her work as an educator, after obtaining bachelor's and master's degrees in prison", her lawyer said.