California Governor Jerry Brown has blocked the parole of the youngest cult follower of Charles Manson, Leslie Van Houten.
Brown’s decision reverses that of a state parole panel, which back in September recommended she be freed.
Brown’s reluctance comes as no surprise to those familiar with Van Houten’s role in the slayings of Los Angeles grocers Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their home in 1969.
Van Houten was not with the group that slaughtered pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others on Aug. 9, 1969, but she did accompany some of her fellow Manson followers to the LaBianca home the following day.
Van Houten testified at trial that she and another woman held down Rosemary LaBianca as the victim begged for her life. After the other woman stabbed LaBianca — perhaps fatally — Van Houten stabbed her 14 times.
The former homecoming queen was just 19 at the time. Her supporters would later argue she was under the influence of LSD at the time, in addition to Manson’s supposed mind control.
Van Houten’s attorney said Brown’s decision is unlawful because it denies parole based on the circumstances of the crime, rather than the inmate’s fitness.
“We’re going to challenge this in court,” attorney Rich Pfeiffer said. “I expect the courts to uphold the law and allow her to be released.”