For the 20th time, parole has been denied to Leslie Van Houten, who is serving a life sentence for the 1969 killings of Leno La Bianca and his wife Rosemary. Although a prison board had recommended parole for the former follower of convicted mass murderer Charles Manson stating her good behaviour during detention, California Governor Jerry Brown rejected the request on Friday (22 July).
"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 reportedly wrote in his response to the recommendation.
Relatives of her victims had also opposed her release and had signed a petition backed by signatures of 140,000 people. However, Van Houten's lawyer, Rich Pfeiffer, said the governor's response was expected and that he will challenge the decision in Los Angeles County Superior Court. He added that Van Houten's next parole hearing could come within a year.
Van Houten was 19 when she went on a killing spree. It was reported that she had held down Rosemary while an accomplice of hers from the Charles Manson "family" stabbed the woman. Van Houten reportedly admitted later that she too stabbed the woman after she was dead. The killing took place only a day after Manson's followers murdered actress Sharon Tate and four others.
Manson, who is now 81, is in prison along with his other followers – including Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles Watson. He was found guilty of controlling his followers using drugs and other means and directing them to commit horrific killings.
Van Houten, who was the youngest among the other convicted Manson followers, has reportedly completed college degrees while in detention. She is also said to have demonstrated very good behaviour. "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 at her April parole board hearing, the BBC reported.
"Gov. Brown has done a good thing here, and I think he sees what we see — that this was an unrepentant killer," Lou Smaldino, nephew of the La Biancas, was quoted by NYDaily News.