During the original trial Van Houten's attorney, Ronald Hughes went missing in late November of 1970 while taking a break at Sespe Hot Springs. He later turned up dead. The Manson Family brashly took credit for this as the beginning of the "retaliation murders". It is far more likely (and agreed upon by TLB Scholars) that he died tragically in a flash flood.
She therefore won a retrial in 1977 on the grounds of ineffective representation by counsel. Her second trial ended in a hung jury. She was then granted a third trial.
A fact that is rarely brought up is that Leslie was granted bail for her third trial. That bail was $200K. She was free for around six months or so. During that time she worked as a legal secretary while she prepared for court and lived with an old friend.
While out on bail in 1978 she attended the Oscars with a friend... and wasn't recognized. John Waters wrote about her experience that night:
"But what did you talk about to the people you met that night?" I wondered, knowing she had been released from death row not that long before, not exactly a center of industry screenings or "For Your Consideration" Oscar campaigns. "If someone brought up one of the nominees," she shrugged, "I'd just say 'No, I missed that one' or 'I was away when that was playing.'"