Calif. Governor Denies Parole for Former Manson Follower | NBC Chicago
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Calif. Governor Denies Parole for Former Manson Follower

Leslie Van Houten has been in prison for more than four decades for her role in two killings



    A family member of a victim of Leslie Van Houten, a Manson follower, reacted to the possibility that she could be paroled. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Thursday, April 14, 2016. (Published Friday, April 15, 2016)

    Governor Jerry Brown on Friday denied parole for former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten, who was convicted of the 1969 killings of grocers Leno and Rosemary La Bianca at their Los Feliz home.

    The decision comes a month after Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey urged Brown to deny her parole.

    "Despite overwhelming evidence of her involvement in these two horrible murders, inmate Van Houten has consistently minimized her conduct during current and past hearings," the county's top prosecutor wrote in a five-page letter to Gov. Jerry Brown that includes a photo of the victims with their daughter three years before they were killed.

    "In reality, she clearly lacks insight, genuine remorse and an understanding of the magnitude of her crimes. The viciousness of the murders, the relationship of those murders to the effort to incite the "Helter Skelter" race war and Van Houten's attempts to minimize her criminal responsibility make her an unreasonable risk of danger to society,'' Lacey wrote in the letter dated June 24 and made public Tuesday.

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    A state parole board panel ruled on April 14 that Van Houten, now 66, was suitable for parole. She had previously been denied parole 19 times between 1979 and 2013. Van Houten was convicted of murder and conspiracy for participating with fellow Manson family members Charles "Tex" Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel in the Aug. 9, 1969, killings of Leno La Bianca, 44, and his 38-year-old wife, Rosemary, who were each stabbed multiple times.

    Van Houten was sentenced to death, but re-sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that the death penalty was unconstitutional. The former Monrovia High School cheerleader and homecoming princess did not participate in the Manson family's killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in a Benedict Canyon mansion the night before.

    Manson and many of his other former followers have repeatedly been denied parole. In January, the governor rejected a state parole board panel's August 2015 finding that another former Manson follower, Bruce Davis, was suitable for release. Davis was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy for the July 25, 1969, stabbing death of musician Gary Hinsman in his Topanga Canyon home and the killing of Donald "Shorty" Shea, who was last seen alive on Aug. 27, 1969. Onetime Manson family member Susan Atkins died in September 2009, about three weeks after a state parole board panel rejected her plea for a "compassionate release" from prison because of brain cancer.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.