For a minute there, it looked as though Leslie Van Houten, one of the Manson Family’s most involved members, was actually on the road to escaping the life sentence she was serving for the murder of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca back in 1969. That road, however, hit a block on Friday thanks to California Governor Jerry Brown, who overturned the state’s recommendation that she be granted parole.
Though Van Houten was only 19 when she participated in the grisly murders, Brown wrote in his decision that she failed to convincingly explain her metamorphosis from a normal teen to a cold-blooded killer. Via the AP:
“Both her role in these extraordinarily brutal crimes and her inability to explain her willing participation in such horrific violence cannot be overlooked and lead me to believe she remains an unacceptable risk to society if released,” Brown wrote.
At her parole hearing, Van Houten, now 66, described how she secured a pillow over the head of Rosemary LaBianca while another Family member stabbed her, and eventually joined in the stabbing herself. The murder was part of a two-day spree that left a total of seven dead, including the actress Sharon Tate.
“I don’t let myself off the hook. I don’t find parts in any of this that makes me feel the slightest bit good about myself,” she said during the hearing.
Rich Pfeiffer, Van Houten’s lawyer, said he anticipated Brown’s decision, attributing it to “political pressure.” He’ll challenge the decision in Los Angeles Superior Court, which could result in another parole hearing within a year. It’s unlikely, however, that another hearing will make a difference—Van Houten has already been denied parole 20 times.
Manson, 81, remains in prison along with several other followers: Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles “Tex” Watson have each repeatedly been denied parole themselves, and Susan Atkins died in prison in 2009.