A life sentence remains just that for Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten after the California governor blocked her parole release for the fourth time.
For a second straight year, California Gov. Gavin Newsom blocked a state parole board’s recommendation to release the 71-year-old from the California Institution for Women in Chino. Newsom was just shy of his second birthday when Van Houten helped Manson murder wealthy grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in 1969.
Previous California Gov. Jerry Brown also blocked her parole release twice for the murders when she, at age 19, and other Manson cult members stabbed the LaBiancas and smeared their blood across the walls of their home.
Van Houten testified that she and another cult member held a pillowcase for Rosemary LaBianca’s head, gagged her with a lamp cord and stabbed her 14 to 16 times. Van Houten initially was sentenced to the death penalty before the state abolished it.
The LaBianca slayings occurred a day after other followers of Manson, who died in 2017, killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others. No one involved in the Tate or LaBianca murders has been released from prison.
Newsom’s decision followed a 120-day legal review, which stated that “evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.”
Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, plans to appeal the decision. He previously made a case for Van Houten noting her troubled childhood, including her parents’ divorce, drug use and running away from home.
“This reversal will demonstrate to the courts that there is no way Newsom will let her out,” Pfeiffer told the Associated Press. “So they have to enforce the law or it will never be enforced.”
He is nothing if not persistent.