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Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten seeks parole for 19th time

June 05, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein
  • Leslie Van Houten smiles during a 2002 court hearing in San Bernardino.
Leslie Van Houten smiles during a 2002 court hearing in San Bernardino. (AP Photo / Peter Phun )

Convicted murderer Leslie Van Houten will ask a state parole board Wednesday for the 19th time to be released from prison for her role in the Charles Manson murders.

Van Houten, 63, was convicted of murder and conspiracy in the 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home in Los Feliz. She has repeatedly been denied bids for parole over the last four decades. 

The hearing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the California Institution for Women in Chino. The parole board panel is expected to render its decision in the afternoon or evening. 

PHOTOS: The Manson murders

Van Houten, a former homecoming princess from Monrovia, has been described by supporters as the least culpable member of the so-called Manson family. She did not take part in the Aug. 9, 1969, killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others at Tate's rented Benedict Canyon home.

But prosecutors dispute that characterization and describe Van Houten as an active and willing participant in the slayings of the LaBiancas on Aug. 10 after randomly targeting their Los Feliz residence.

Van Houten held down Rosemary LaBianca while an accomplice stabbed her and, when told to "do something" by cohort Charles "Tex" Watson, she stabbed the woman about two dozen times in the back.

The killers wrote messages on walls using the victims' blood at both the Benedict Canyon and Los Feliz crime scenes.

Van Houten became alienated from her family as a teenager and said she was introduced to Manson by a boyfriend. She said she came to view Manson as Jesus Christ and believed in his bizarre plan to commit murders and blaming them on African Americans in hopes of sparking a race war.

"I'm deeply ashamed of it," she told a parole board in 2002. "I take very seriously not just the murders but what made me make myself available to someone like Manson."

Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Stephen Kay testified at the same hearing that such "vicious" acts make parole for Van Houten at any time unwise.


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