Sunday, January 21, 2018

Gov. Brown reverses decision to parole Manson family killer

By Harold Blume

Gov. Jerry Brown has reversed a parole board's decision to free convicted killer and Manson family member Leslie Van Houten, shown here at her parole hearing in September at the California Institution for Women in Corona. (Stan Lim / Associated Press)
Gov. Jerry Brown has reversed a parole board’s decision to free Manson family killer Leslie Van Houten.

In September, the Board of Parole Hearings found Van Houten, 68, suitable for release. When she was 19, Van Houten took part in the brutal slayings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in Los Angeles on Aug. 10, 1969.

"The question I must answer is whether Leslie Van Houten will pose a current danger to the public if released from prison," Brown wrote in his statement, released Friday night. He said he had to consider Van Houten’s young age at the time of the crime, her dysfunctional upbringing and other mitigating factors.


He also noted Van Houten’s exemplary conduct in prison. Supporters and prison staff have described her as a model inmate who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and, as Brown put it, "exceptional work ratings as a tutor." Van Houten also took leadership roles in self-help efforts among inmates.

But "in rare circumstances," Brown said, "the aggravated nature of the crime alone can provide a valid basis for denying parole, even when there is strong evidence of rehabilitation and no other evidence of current dangerousness."

Brown cited the horrific nature of the murders, Van Houten’s eager participation and what he characterized as her minimization of her role in them.

The reversal marks the second time Brown has overturned a parole board decision in order to keep Van Houten behind bars. The first time was in 2016. Before that, the state parole board denied Van Houten’s attempt at winning release 19 times since she was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Manson died in November. Another participant, Susan Atkins, died in prison in 2009.

The youngest of Manson's followers, Van Houten has been portrayed by supporters as a misguided teen under the influence of LSD — and the twisted influence of Manson — on the night of the slayings.

A former homecoming queen from Monrovia, she did not join in the Aug. 9, 1969, murders of Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski, and four others in Benedict Canyon. But Brown’s statement noted that Van Houten felt "left out" and that she wanted to participate in the carnage of the following evening.

Van Houten was part of the group that stormed into the LaBiancas' home in Los Feliz. Van Houten testified to stabbing Rosemary LaBianca in the back at least 14 times, possibly after she already was dead. The group wrote messages in blood on the walls, and Van Houten, Brown noted, drank some chocolate milk from the refrigerator before leaving.

Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi argued during the trial that Manson orchestrated the murders as part of a plan to spark a race war that he called Helter Skelter. He and his followers planned to survive by living underground near Death Valley and then would take power.

Van Houten, Manson and three others were convicted and sentenced to death. But after the California Supreme Court struck down the death penalty, their sentences were commuted to life in prison.

An appellate court overturned Van Houten's conviction in 1976, and a second trial the following year ended in a hung jury. She was convicted in her third trial in 1978 and sentenced to seven years to life in prison.

At a 2002 parole board hearing, Van Houten said she was "deeply ashamed" of what she had done, adding: "I take very seriously not just the murders, but what made me make myself available to someone like Manson."

Her supporters have come to include retired reporter Linda Deutsch, who covered the trial for the Associated Press.

"During her incarceration, Van Houten has demonstrated remorse and, in my first-hand assessment, she is living proof that redemption is possible even for those whose crimes are unforgivable," Deutsch wrote in an opinion piece for The Times.

"I've learned that she has spent decades in therapy to understand how she fell under Manson's control," Deutsch wrote. "She once told me: ‘I could not have lived without paying for what I did.’ "

"But she has paid," Deutsch added. "At issue is whether a person who earns her release through hard work over many years should be treated differently because her case was in the headlines."

Opponents of Van Houten’s parole take a starkly different stand.

"Ms. Van Houten should not be paroled and society cannot trust someone who committed such a heinous murder without showing any remorse for years," according to a statement on a Web site devoted to keeping "the Manson Family Killers in Prison."

54 comments:

Robert C said...

Hm-m-m ... this one again. Cali is still into revenge rather than rehab ?

Her peer review group says she's ok now, she's been in way longer than the average for the same crime, she technically probably didn't murder anyone and it's costing the taxpayer 'X' dollars per year to keep her in.

Is there a way for Moonbeam Brown to be legally challenged and the ruling over-turned ?

ziggyosterberg said...


Another late Friday evening news dump for Jerry.

"Leslie continues to pose a yada yada to yada yadaiety"


AustinAnn74 said...

She technically probably didn't murder anyone? Am I missing something?

Robert C said...

yes

John Seger said...

There were pre and post mortem stab wounds in Mrs. Labianca's back. Leslie stabbed her 16 times in the back. Some of those stabs she made could very well have been done while Mrs. Labianca was still alive!

Peter said...

If she was an illegal alien she'd be on the street right now.

Just sayin'.

GreenWhite said...

If not fully believing the official Bugliosi TLB narrative is what drives many researchers of the Manson cases to attempt to read every word every printed, watch the videos, sometimes find the people, etc, etc, then I don't think it's a giant leap to wonder if the powers that be also don't have a ton of faith in the Bugliosi narrative. They know there's more to it but the inmates won't spill the beans and they are paying the price for their silence on certain matters. All across life we find examples of the way things are versus the way they should be, and these parole attempts and denials are another example of that, imo.

MamaPoohBear said...

Moonbeam has no balls. There is no reason to keep Leslie in jail. The only reasoning is that Moonbeam is afraid that there will be political repercussions for HIM if he allows Leslie her freedom. Yup, its all about Moonbeam.

ColScott said...

The comments all are so depressingly ignorant. It is the entire BUG TLB lie that keeps them all in prison. Killers from that era were all almost entirely released by the 1980s.
The BUG narrative is that these killings were an attempt to DESTROY FUCKING SOCIETY. Not bad enough that they seem like random home invasions. No, Charlie brainwashed young girls (but not too much they still had murder in their heart says BUG) to destroy society.
Which such special circumstances it is easy to insist they stay in prison. And then double down with being the law and order guy keeping the bad people in jail.

The whole system is down with the BUG narrative. LVH should have been offered a plea deal after her retrial mistrial and been out by 85. But the BUG narrative must be protected and served.

Personally I don't give a fuck either way. She is no threat, and I don't think she is really sorry. Life happens.

Robert C said...

John Seger said: "There were pre and post mortem stab wounds in Mrs. Labianca's back. Leslie stabbed her 16 times in the back. Some of those stabs she made could very well have been done while Mrs. Labianca was still alive! "

It is my understanding that none of the wounds inflicted by LVH were fatal hence, she technically murdered no one but was legally guilty of murder. Also, crime scene photos show a significant lack of bleeding **from LVH inflicted wounds** which usually indicates the victim was already deceased. Contrast with Abigail Folger who was stabbed multiple times while still alive because she bled profusely as her crime scene photos disturbingly show.

However, at the time (age 19 and stoned) she was enthused about going, showed no remorse after the murders (initially), felt the experience of stabbing a body was kind of fun, and goofed off during her trial with the others virtually begging to be executed. But ... technically I don't think she murdered anyone. Attempted murder ... maybe but that's not the way any of the assailants said it went down. Accessory to murder .... yes.

ColScott said...

When you are present when a murder takes place, leave the scene of the crime and cover up you are guilty of Murder


--- Disbarred Hawthorne Lawyer Darwin Scott

prefeteria said...

Also...referring to Gov. Brown as Moonbeam is kind of dated at this point.

At the risk of approaching political discussion, I read on the Daily Beast:
https://www.thedailybeast.com/meet-the-woman-who-was-alex-jones-before-alex-jones-existed

And was reminded of her one-of-a-kind take on Manson:
http://www.maebrussell.com/Transcriptions/16.html

Robert C said...

prefeteria said: "Also...referring to Gov. Brown as Moonbeam is kind of dated at this point."

First time I used it and it was kinda refreshing. First coined by Linda Ronstadt back in '78 while she was his girlfriend. I remember in Brown's first years as governor they used to call him "Mr. Beige" among other things because of his fuzzy way of explaining things.

JC said...

Agreed. I prefer "Typical Third Way Weasel" for the Brown of today.

JC said...

What a surprise.

JC said...

Agreed. I prefer "Just Another Typical Third Way Weasel" for the Brown of today.

Monica said...

My gut tells me she would have inflicted the 16 stab wounds whether Mrs. LaBianca was alive or dead. I wish she'd stop and think how the family must feel when she keeps alluding (although less these days) that she only participated after Mrs. LaBianca was dead. My heart breaks for those families - all of them.
I agree with Col. Vince and Helter Skelter made sure none of the murderers, including Leslie, will ever get out. Fine with me.

Kathleen diGregorio said...

I hope after news of her parole being overturned and her sentence being upheld, her bed was a little harder, the floor a little colder, the coffee really lousy and her prison just a little more horrific for inmate CDC#W-13378.

GreenWhite said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

GreenWhite, what troll are you talking about?


Peter said...

When you say mid/late 90s, do you mean the decade or the age of the troll? Either way it must be the colonel.

David said...

Green/White,

You should not have deleted your comment.

If you were referring to the Col. He is, at times, abrasive and pisses people off. But getting 'Col.ed' is also sort of a 'rite of passage'. Some 'surrender' when he comments.

Personally, he reminds me of Ed Sanders: he makes pronouncements about facts but seldom links them to any source or witness except his own personal collection. And much like Sanders he may have a storage shed full of archives but we will never see what is in there or be privy to the proof.

Sometimes I don't agree with him because he seems to lack any concrete evidence for what he 'announces as gospel'. And sometimes, he's right, like this time IMO (not the opening line of his first comment there, mind you).

After LVH's second trial the DA typically would make a deal. Instead, to end run her diminished capacity defense, they changed the theory of the case from HS-black/white, world revolution to felony murder. It was 1977 after all and the luster of the HS case had long since died. She was convicted because, legally, she was guilty. The judge gave her 7-life and made a comment he thought she needed a little more time, or words to that effect.

I think you would be extraordinarily hard pressed to find a 7-lifer who is still in the clink after twenty-five years, let alone 50.

In theory, one of the foundations of our criminal justice system is that the system is 'blind'. That's why Justitia wears a blindfold: All will be treated equally under the law. The 'rules' are the same for everyone. Every 7-lifer will be treated the same way.

If you embrace this concept LVH is an anomaly that undermines that very notion. The idea that: "in rare circumstances the aggravated nature of the crime alone can provide a valid basis for denying parole, even when there is strong evidence of rehabilitation and no other evidence of current dangerousness" is, IMO, directly contrary to what our forefathers fought and died to stop.

Who decides that question: 'what are those rare circumstances'? The King?

I believe this would cause Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, et al, to roll in their graves, even if the 'people' passed this law.

Whether the decision is motivated, as the Col. suggests, to protect the Bugliosi narrative, I don't know. But it is overwhelmingly clear the decision is not based upon parole release factors. It is based upon the Manson Murderer factor.

One obvious response is 'good'. 'I hope she rots there (see, above)'. Like the Col. I frankly don't care if she gets out but I suggest you think long and hard before you allow a single official (elected by 28% of the populace or not), to determine that the media surrounding your particular crime, by itself, can keep you locked up for life. Yes, I know, the people of California passed this law.

To illustrate the point, substitute a few words for 'Manson' in the phrase "Manson Murderer": Non-Christian, African-American, Immigrant, Jewish or Muslim.

Now google the Malicious Practices Act. There, one government official, appointed by congress after an election, could determine whether you had committed crime that was 'aggravated enough' to warrant punishment and what or how long your sentence should be. After such a ruling you might get to wear a pink (or some other color) triangle.

Matt said...

Bravo, David!


Robert C said...

The CA Guv should have some legal controls placed on them when making this kind of ruling like can only deny if they think the inmate, after clearance by the parole board, is still a clear and present danger to the community (with full explanation). And something like a standard checklist should be used in any over-rule of the parole board -- as it is now Gov. Beige can say any fuzzy thing and deny, undermining the purpose and credibility of the parole board, making them look like stooges, which they may be, but that's another story ...

Robert C said...

Agree ... good response above, David. The legal system is the most important pillar of our civilization and to see certain aspects inconsistent and basically unfair is sad.

GreenWhite said...

Thanks, guys. No worries. I understand how things should be in the justice system. I was pointing out how they are. But you all know that already anyhow.

I've been obsessively/compulsively online for a very long for what it's worth. I've gone around and around the block. I know that nothing productive comes from taking the bait so I deleted my comment. It's not worth it.

Regardless, I'm up to somewhere in 2015 on these great posts. Thanks again for all the hard work.

prefeteria said...

I’m not saying right or wrong - but Brown is from the same generation as Bugliosi, also an attorney, was right there and remembers when the murders and trial occurred. Not to mention his association with Linda Ronstadt and the musicians of the time. Perhaps someone younger with no memory of the proceedings would not have overruled the board.

Jenn said...

Excellent point, prefeteria.

I reject the idea that Brown does this as part of "politics" because he's leaving office and is retiring. Now, perhaps it has something to do,with his legacy.

MacyGrant said...

If Brown released Leslie, it would make him look bad. I, myself, was once fooled by Sharon Tate's Sister. Before I read Helter Skelter, and spent hours researching the case, I believed Leslie had killed Sharon Tate. Most people believe this. Before I got to the point in which I researched it, I was too grossed out by the whole thing to research it. I now think it would be alright to release Leslie, but most people are too busy to do so much research. I used to be upset that anyone followed the Manson story, until that person became me. I used to worry people would be influenced by Manson. I understand that we need to know why this happened. The story is so terrible that it can even harm those just trying to understand it. If Leslie was released the headlines would read "Baby Killer Released" and it would be very upsetting to many people. The Manson case is a warning not to get involved with Cults and people like Manson. First you do small crimes for him, and end up doing big crimes. Then you end up in prison. It’s not like he went around asking people to murder for him, the first time he met them. She has been in prison a long time, and it is ok with me if she stays there also. Either way I am now ok with what happens to her.

Zelda Formaldehyde said...

If Leslie dies in prison, it can be easily argued that her commuted life-with-parole sentence existed on paper, but not in reality. She's done everything asked of her, but parole is still not available. Again, I credit the Board for their courage to do the right thing. Again, I blame Gov. Moonbeam for being a recalcitrant coward.

David said...

LVH's Tate-Labianca conviction was overturned on appeal due to the disappearance of Ronald Hughes:

https://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/3d/61/102.html

See, there under "Disappearance of Ronald Hughes" in the opinion- sorry have to copy and paste.

She was not sentenced to death when she was finally convicted but sentenced to 7-life. Her previous conviction was vacated. She was actually free for about a year- I think.

To say, well, she was sentenced by a jury to death in 1971 ignores this:

"Integrity of the process of appellate review demands that we consider Van Houten's contention uninfluenced by the sensation and notoriety of the case at bench or the indicia of her bad character. Despite the strong evidence of Van Houten's guilt "more enduring values are challenged whenever there is reason to doubt that a notorious public trial has been conducted" in a manner comporting with the requirements of due process of law. "'[T]he guilty are almost always the first to suffer those hardships which are afterwards used as precedents against the innocent.'" (United States v. Barrett (7th Cir. 1975) 505 F.2d 1091, 1114-1115, dis. opn. then Judge now Mr. Justice Stevens.) So considering the issue in light of the record here, we find merit in Van Houten's contention on two interrelated grounds. First, she was denied effective representation because Keith was incapable of arguing credibility. Second, the disappearance of Hughes after the submission of all evidence severely interrupted the continuity of representation necessary to a fair trial."

That is how the system should work. Interestingly, because, unlike others, he was not after notoriety but actually a very good lawyer, about the first thing Keith did was move for a mistrial 'due to ineffective assistance of counsel' (he was the counsel). The motion was denied.

MacyGrant said...

I can't find any evidence she was free for a year. That would certainly make for interesting reading, if she wrote a book about what she did in that year. If she did positive things, she could bring that to her parole hearings in the future. If someone has a link to this, please post it.

I don't see how one can blame Jerry Brown for making a decision that most people in the state would approve of. He is elected by the people. If a poll was taking asking everyone in California over the age of 18, if she could go free now, I bet less than 20 percent or maybe even less than ten percent would agree. They would simply site "Sharon Tate and her Baby" and that would be the end of that. Although, Leslie did not do that, people think she did. Public Opinion is really what matters. There is no worse crime then to kill a mother and child like that.

David said...

I was wrong it was 6 months not a year.

"For a few months before her last trial she was released on a $200,000 bail bond paid for by friends and relatives, and lived for a while with a former writer from the Christian Science Monitor who was writing a book about Van Houten."

Bugliosi, Vincent. Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders (25th Anniversary Edition) (p. 588). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

Per her website: "Leslie was then released and free on bail for 6 months living a quiet low key life"

JC said...

If I recall correctly, during her release, she even went roller skating in Venice Beach with...Linda Ronstadt.

John Seger said...

There is a rumor that Leslie attended the Academy awards, incognito, with John Waters during her release. However, I do not believe that rumor. During the 6 months she was released,John Waters was not yet a "mainstream" director/producer/writer, and I doubt he would have attended the ceremony, let alone with Leslie "incognito" and not noticed.
I also doubt she roller skated in Venice Beach with Linda Ronstadt. LoL

MacyGrant said...

Amazing, did you know Linda Ronstadt was dating Jerry Brown in the 70s? In fact, I wanted them to get married, they were like an early version of a power couple. I was so disappointed when they broke up.

JC said...

Ronstadt relates the rollerskating anecdote in her autobiography "Simple Dreams"

MacyGrant said...

My local library has Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir by Linda Ronstadt, so I have placed a request. I wonder if Linda Ronstadt was dating Jerry Brown at the time and had a chance to met her? But, I am not really a fan of her music, so I would not have researched her, but now I am interesting read more about Jerry Brown and Linda Ronstadt. Jerry Brown is married to another woman now. Did Linda Ronstadt consider Leslie to be a nice person or to be a friend? All these thing matter in the question of character. For example, I decided Susan Atkins was not a nice person, and there was no amount of clean up, that could save her character. She is the one who killed Sharon Tate along with Bruce Davis Tex? Is that right. I don't know how to go back and edit my comments if I got it wrong. I found Susan's husband made her a website, that tried to clean up her image. I don't know if it still online. It does seem unfair that Leslie has to take the blame for what Susan did, but I feel like there is nothing I can do about that.

Doug Smith said...

Supposedly, Ronstadt was with Nicolette Larsen and Don Blackburn

Blackburn set up a meeting at Venice Beach

http://www.lsb3.com/2014/03/linda-ronstadt-meets-leslie-van-houten.html?m=1

Mr. Humphrat said...

Macy, Tex said he alone killed Sharon Tate, but there are those who think Susan at least participated in killing her.
I think she led a productive life in prison and had great remorse for her role in the killings.

Zelda Formaldehyde said...

I'm not 100% certain, but I do recall reading directly from Leslie that she did attend the Academy Awards during her prison haitus.

Robert C said...

Atkins had a lot of 'alleged's'. She allegedly killed or contributed to the death of Hinman. Ditto for Tate and Frykowski.

MacyGrant said...

Mr. Humphrat: There is a speech Susan gave in which, I am sure you must of heard it, in which Sharon begs Susan to spare the baby, and Susan said, no. It came from Susan's mouth, and maybe she just said it to be cute or shocking, but I think she really did it. There was some evidence she had killed before, in a incident not related to Manson. I am sure she wanted later to recant that speech. There was a youtube video I saw with Susan recanting it, but I am sure she would have said anything at that point to get out of prison. I don't know why she would make that up if it was not true to begin with, but it possible she was a mentally ill pathological liar.

Doug, thank you for the link. I was able to read it, since the book has not arrived from the library, as I live in a remote area, and they ship books in from larger libraries.

David said...

Macy,

Aside from the fact Watson has said he alone stabbed Sharon Tate the physical evidence supports his statements if one assumes the knife found at Cielo Drive was the knife Atkins used and then, lost. That knife, however, also strongly supports the argument that she inflicted fatal stab wounds on Wojciech Frykowski and did not just stab him in the left leg. I also recently noticed in Sanders' book Sharon Tate, A Life that he now says Atkins at some point conveyed to hi that she stabbed Frykowski in the back.

This doesn't mean Atkins didn't hold Sharon Tate's arms while Watson stabbed her. In fact, there is some evidence, or better put 'there is some lack of evidence' that Atkins did precisely that. Sharon Tate has no 'defensive' wounds which supports that version of events. Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski and Steven Parent all have defensive wounds. Jay Sebring was initially shot and never had a chance to defend himself.

John Seger said...

So Leslie DID attend the Oscars and roller skated with Linda R!! Well, Miss Horsey face sure played fancy whilst awaiting her retrial.

Mr. Humphrat said...

Macy, yes Atkins said Sharon begged and she had no mercy on her, but that she held her and Tex stabbed her. It's still a heinous act either way. She did tell other prisoners where she was held that she stabbed Sharon Tate, but she later said she was just trying to appear tough or crazy so she wouldn't be a target in jail. As I said some people feel strongly she did stab Tate and, for all I know, they could be right. David did a lot of research on the physical evidence so his opinion that the physical evidence points to only Watson stabbing her is important. And of course his research into Frykowski's stabbing pointed to Atkins inflicting fatal wounds on him, so obviously she did terrible things at Cielo.
As far as your reference to her possibly killing before she met Manson, maybe you are referring to the time in Oregon she pulled a gun on a law enforcement officer and he testified she told him she could have killed him.

MacyGrant said...

Yes, I see that could be possible, the details were vague on who is may have killed before, and it's also possible that Tex felt bad, and wanted to lie for Susan. They both took meth that night by all accounts, and it makes people aggressive. Susan was the first one to tell her story to other prisoners in jail. She told a woman named Virginia who reported it, but no one believed her. I don't think that it would be necessary to make up things to avoid prison violence, in her case. I think if one said, they killed mother and child, they would be more likely to be beaten. It is certainly cowardly to kill and an unborn child, and does not make one appear tougher. But, she is dead now, and what matters is Leslie right now.

Robert C said...

I don't think "meth" had even been invented in the late 60's. I never heard of it until more recent times. There were claims they were high those nights but I thought it was speed 'n weed.

MacyGrant said...

Robert C, yes you are right, I meant to say Speed. I don't know that much about Speed, I never tried it, but the once and only time I tried only a small amount of meth, right away I felt more aggressive and I thought about doing things I would never do like yelling at the counter staff at McDonalds, this was in the 90s. I decided meth was pure poison to the system. The staff at McDonalds has a hard enough job without being yelled at.

MacyGrant said...

I picked up the Linda Ronstadt book at the Mendocino library and the story is on page 104 to 105, and it seems to indicate a confession on Leslie's part. But, the rest of the book, I could not read. It was boring, and I don't dislike Linda Ronstadt's music, but I don't like her music either. She said, she had done bad things under the influence of PCP, and she says murder. It's not like she said, I am wrongly accused of murder. If I were wrongly, accused I would take this opportunity to say that to Linda Ronstadt. There is no mention of Jerry Brown and Leslie together and very little mention of Jerry Brown in the book, as if she wants to minimize that time in her life. But, of course, maybe Ms.Ronstadt has a different memory from how Leslie remembers it. I still find Leslie to be a nicer person in interviews then Susan. It's not like I hate Susan, but she sounds less genuine. I do hope they let Leslie go, but they probably can't due to the argument I mentioned in earlier comments. If Jerry Brown lets her go, it will make him look bad. The Republicans will seize on this to say, he is soft on crime. So, what can he do? Not very much. Let this be a lesson to us all about blind obedience. I find it odd, that Leslie had a great home, and not an abusive home that she ran away from. She was Home Coming Princess.

beauders said...

Van Houten was forced to have an abortion as a teenager, by her mother. I don't think she ever got over it, and that is I believe the start of her problems.

Michael Scheindlinger said...

With full benefits!

Michael Scheindlinger said...

I don't believe the "Helter Skelter" narrative. I think that Bugliosi and Paul Watkins invented the story to sell books.

MacyGrant said...

Most people here don't believe in Helter Skelter. The theory falls apart in so many ways. I think the murders were to get revenge on Terry Melcher. They did. Terry Melcher had to go to therapists for years over that. But, Bugliosi is often quoted in his justification for lying, that without Helter Skelter that Manson would have walked free. I find the completely untrue. The nature of the killings was enough, and if for some reason Manson was found innocent, the could try him for Gary Hinman's murder. That is one that he surely did, and many people would have testified to it.