Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Parole Denied for Leslie

Original Story here

A parole panel refused an emotional bid by former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten to release her from prison 44 years after she participated in a notorious set of murders.

The denial came at the 63-year-old's 20th parole hearing on Wednesday, where the panel heard from relatives of the victims who were opposed to her release.

Board of Parole Hearings Commissioner Jeffrey Ferguson told Van Houten she had failed to explain how someone as intelligent and well-bred as she was could have committed the "cruel and atrocious" murders of Leno and Rosemary La Bianca. She won't be eligible to ask for parole again for five years, but Ferguson said she could request another hearing sooner if circumstances change.

"The crimes will always be a factor," he said. "The question is whether the good will ever outweigh the bad. It certainly didn't today."

Van Houten was convicted of murder and conspiracy for her role in the slayings of wealthy Los Angeles grocers Leno and Rosemary La Bianca. They were stabbed to death in August 1969, one night after Manson's followers killed actress Sharon Tate and four others. Van Houten was 19 at the time.

Van Houten did not participate in the Tate killings but went along the next night when the La Biancas were slain in their home. During the penalty phase of her trial she confessed to joining in stabbing Mrs. La Bianca after she was dead.

"I know I did something that is unforgiveable, but I can create a world where I make amends," Van Houten said before the decision.

With survivors of the LaBiancas sitting behind her at the California Institution for Women, Van Houten acknowledged participating in the killings ordered by Manson.

"He could never have done what he did without people like me," said Van Houten, who has been in custody for 44 years.

The ruling came after a full-day hearing at which six representatives of the La Bianca family spoke in anguish about the loss of the couple.

"Today after 44 years, your crimes still instill fear in innocent people," said Ferguson. "The motive was the worst I can imagine, to incite a race war. Your crimes were gruesome and bloody."

During her comments, Van Houten repeatedly said that she was traumatized by her parents' divorce when she was 14, her pregnancy soon after and her mother's insistence that she have an abortion.

"Many people have traumatic childhoods," said Ferguson. "You have failed to explain at this time what would cause you to commit such horrific atrocities."

Van Houten showed no reaction to the ruling and quickly was escorted out of the room.

In her final statement, Van Houten apologized to everyone she harmed.

"I know that the pain goes on generationally. I want the victims to know I'm deeply ashamed of what I have done," she said.

After years of therapy and self-examination, she said, she realizes that what she did was "like a pebble falling in a pond which affected so many people."

"Mr. and Mrs. La Bianca died the worst possible deaths a human being can," she said.

Arguing to the board, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequiera said some crimes may be an exception to the law guaranteeing the possibility of parole.

"There are certain crimes that are so heinous, so atrocious, so horrible that it should cause denial of parole," he said, elaborating on Van Houten's contradictions over the years.

In response, Van Houten's lawyer, Michael Satris, said his client "sank to the depths of Dante's inferno and she put herself there by consorting with the devil himself, Charles Manson."

However, Satris said his client has totally reformed herself.

"Leslie committed a great sin, a great crime in 1969, and in that time (in prison) she has developed into the equal of a saint," he said. "Everything she does is for humanity."

Van Houten was portrayed at trial by her defense lawyers as the youngest and least culpable of those convicted with Manson, a young woman from a good family who had been a homecoming princess and showed promise until she became involved with drugs and was recruited into Manson's murderous cult.

Now deeply wrinkled with long gray hair tied back in a ponytail, Van Houten at times seemed near tears but did not break down at the Wednesday hearing.

She said that when she heard the Manson family had killed Tate and others, she felt left out and asked to go along the second night.

Asked if she would have done the same had children been involved, she answered, "I can't say I wouldn't have done that. I'd like to say I wouldn't, but I don't know."

Asked to explain her actions, she said, "I feel that at that point I had really lost my humanity and I can't know how far I would have gone. I had no regard for life and no measurement of my limitations."

Van Houten has previously been commended for her work helping elderly women inmates at the California Institution for Women. She earned two college degrees while in custody.

Other members of Manson's murderous "family" have lost bids for parole.

One former follower, Bruce Davis, was approved for parole last year only to have Gov. Jerry Brown veto the plan in March, saying he wanted the 70-year-old Davis to reveal more details about the killings of a stunt man and a musician. Davis was not involved in the slayings of Sharon Tate and six others.

Manson, now 78, has stopped coming to parole hearings, sending word that prison is his home and he wants to stay there.

32 comments: said...

Five years. Did not see that coming

AustinAnn74 said...

The punishment is truly fitting the crime!

gl63 said...

Hi, my name is Lena, and I am just a simple reader of this blog which, BTW, I find to be very fascinating and well written. But I had to comment on this.

I was only 6 years old at the time of the crimes, but I remember it well, because my mother felt compelled to sit my sister and myself down to give us a rather lurid warning of what could happen to us if we trusted strangers, even if they were young women who seemed nice. I don't think my mother enjoyed doing this, and my sister and I were quite terrified with what she was telling us. So I was very aware of the Manson family at a young age.

My mother in particular really hated Leslie Van Houten, and rejoiced out loud when learning she was punished with the death penalty. I remember sitting in the living room with the TV on, when a bulletin interrupted the program with a news flash concerning the sentences. My mother yelled quite loudly "GOOD!", which isn't like her at all.

Fast forward some years later when we happened to be together watching, on Court TV, one of Leslie Van Houten's parole hearings. I hadn't thought about the Manson family for years, but I asked my mother if she thought Leslie should be released. She replied that Leslie should be dead. I asked about her strong feelings concerning this. She told me that the other girls were crazy, but that Leslie Van Houten should have known better. She went on to say that before this all happened, women were never looked at in this light; that is to say as maniacal killers. Until these girls came around. She said that Leslie Van Houten did such damage to the image of women, that she should have been executed just for that.

Even to this day, when I see Leslie Van Houten, I think back to the time when my mother was obligated to scare the hell out of me for my own good. Back to the time when Leslie Van Houten made it so a child couldn't even trust an unknown teenage girl.

Anonymous said...

If there were any remorse at all in the creature, she would state that she would stop going to them and that she deserves the punishment she has. She should be thankful she has the right to them, not subject us to having to listen to her explain how she still has no remorse but wants out anyway.

St. Circumstance said...

So maybe now some of you are starting to get it just like LULU and Bruce are starting to get it...

what they did was a very very big deal.

All these years later we still blog about it and visit the locations and an entire online world exists around these crimes..

What they did was brutal and savage and inhuman. They laughed about it and mocked the victims and there families..

the day those girls walked through the courthouse singing and smiling in front of the grieving families was the day they guaranteed themselves nobody would ever forget them. they asked for that and they welcomed it.

there are very few times in life when as a society we get to make a strong statement on this level.

everyone out there who is comparing this to other crimes as far as time served still haven't gotten the point- this is not like any other crime....

Thats why we tour the sites 40 years later, and Alisa Statman and Marlin still write books, and people still try to make movies, and we still spend hours debating each other trying to figure out the reason behind it all.

They added so much insult to injury by the way they acted after being caught that it makes it impossible to compare them to almost anyone else.

a teenager who has too much to drink and hits someone with there car or gets into a fight and causes a death can make an argument that they were young and stupid.

there are things you can do as a young person where I would be willing to understand and listen

But to stab people over and over in there own home and then write in their blood on furniture and walls... then to laugh about it and flaunt it in front of the families of those you hurt...

I dont want to hear about youth or mistakes. This was not a mistake, and LULU asked to be involved. Charlie didn't brainwash her- he didn't even ask her. She went to him and requested it!!!

so keep that in mind when our shedding your tears for LULU- she asked for what she got...

not so funny anymore huh Leslie??

After watching Susan get denied while lying in bed minus one leg and not able to sit upright- I really thought everyone got it already....

But then Bruce and Now LULU and still some are surprised???

None of them are getting out ever- and that's a sad thing and maybe an unfair thing to some small extent in a way

But that's the way it is...

and in this Saints opinion the way it has to be...

those who feel pity should go and watch LULU in the couorthouse after the crimes and read some of the things she said at the time- then forward fast 10 years and watch her bragging to reporters with a big smile about her release date...

there was never remorse in this person ever...

She went to jail defensive and angry. Then she got the I am over Charlie phase and started planning her release date- then it was a few years of impressing the parole board and then it became why I am in here so long and finally now she has arrived at the this is not fair point.

The last post is dead on. Real remorse is accepting what you have done and learning to live with the price you have to pay for what you have done. Accepting your responsibility with finality and grace not as a means to an end...

LULU, like Bruce, is not looking at this as accepting responsibility for what she has done - she is looking at this as personally unfair to her...

That is the real shame of this denial... after all these years this woman still doesn't get that part.

But I think she gets it now and thats why no tears this time after the decision. Its starting to sink in to LULU that she hs wasted her life and will not ever have any freedom again. Doom is settling in over her these last few years and hearings..

LULU is finally paying for her crimes


Max Frost said...

Sit down Saint, relax.

She isn't part if your life. Let it go.

Matt said...

I agree with ST. I also agree with Max. I also agree with Suze who also agrees with both.

What I find inherently wrong is that a gangbanger goes out and shoots somebody for no good reason other than some vague turf war. He's out in 7 years. "Leslie was from a good family", "She should have known better". Better than what? The gangbanger?

Our symbol for justice contains a blindfold and a scale. Equality for all, prejudice toward none.

THAT is what bothers me. Equal crimes should exact equal punishment. If Leslie is kept in prison because of her undeniable lifelong tie to Manson, but others who commit even more heinous crimes without the notoriety go free much earlier - then the scale hasn't been calibrated. If the gangbanger is just a product of his environment, but the homecoming queen had "murder in her heart" then the blindfold has been removed.

AustinAnn74 said...

I agree with Saint.

eviliz said...

Damn she got old on us.
I didn't even recognize her.

Farflung said...

There appears to be some confusion regarding California’s two tier sentencing system, indeterminate prison sentences, and the powers granted to the governor via Proposition 89 (1988).

It you manage to commit a crime that lands you on death row or with life without the possibility of parole; then you stay in the clink. No parole for you! No parole hearings either.

If you get sentenced to eight years for your crime, then after eight years you are released. Again no parole hearings since you served what is called ‘hard time’ (the full sentence) and you are paroled (released). No need to talk about the way you were diapered which made you do the crime, or say you are sorry because you are going to be released back into polite society. So who’s left?

People with an indeterminate sentence for whatever reasons are those who could be considered for future release via a parole board hearing. Remember pseudo Manson associate Michael Monfort? He was given one of those sentences in the form of 878 years, with parole being possible after serving 750 years. This was for a string of armed robberies which did NOT include murder. But the governor would have rejected his bid for parole anyway because that’s what is going on for the most part…. right?

Nope. Monfort avoided the governor’s reversal powers because Monfort’s crimes did NOT include murder, and the crime of murder is a prerequisite for Prop 89 to kick in. So well played Mr. Monfort, well played indeed, you really stuck it to ‘the man’ and are still eligible for parole hearings if not for the slight handicap of being dead. Between 2000 and 2010 there were 674 prisoners released on parole in California, with 775 in that same period, dropping dead in the slammer (according to the CDCR). So even in California the odds are greater that you will die in prison, if you have been given an indeterminate sentence for murder. I’m not so sure about those with multi century sentences, but at least they have hope on their side.

St. Circumstance said...

I agree with Austin Ann for agreeing with me!!

I agree partially with Suze and Matt for partially agreeing with me

I agree with Liz this is the first time I ever had to do a double take when viewing a pic of Leslie- wow she has changes since the last hearing!

I agree with orwhut- whats not to agree with?

I agree with Max- I should probably not gloat or take it so personally.

I had my say both before and after the hearing. Now I will move on...

until the next one ;)

St. Circumstance said...

P.S.- I also agree with Cielo lol

5 years for lulu???

not too long ago she was getting a one year denial with the words " so your getting close" from the board...

Even I thought they would show some love for her post conviction record which is pretty impressive...

Farflung said...

California law regarding ‘Special Circumstances’.

190.2. (a) The penalty for a defendant who is found guilty of
murder in the first degree is death or imprisonment in the state
prison for life without the possibility of parole if one or more of
the following special circumstances has been found under Section 190.4 to be true:

(Edited to only include applicable violations)

“The murder was intentional and carried out for financial gain.”

“The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel,
manifesting exceptional depravity. As used in this section, the
phrase "especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel, manifesting
exceptional depravity" means a conscienceless or pitiless crime that is unnecessarily torturous to the victim.”

“The victim was intentionally killed because of his or her
race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin.”

“The murder was committed while the defendant was engaged in,or was an accomplice in, the commission of, attempted commission of,or the immediate flight after committing, or attempting to commit,the following felonies:
(A) Robbery in violation of Section 211 or 212.5.
(G) Burglary in the first or second degree in violation of Section 460.
(J) Mayhem in violation of Section 203.”

“The murder was intentional and involved the infliction of torture.”

Obviously contemporary law, for first degree murder, with the addition of one of the five special circumstances listed (which were committed against the La Biancas), would result in either a sentence of death, or life without the possibility of parole (LWOP).

It would appear that Leslie getting any parole hearings is a privilege, which any other person, at a later time, would not have experienced. She and a few others have managed to pass through some very fortunate and exceptionally rare filters, to arrive at their present stations of life. It would appear by the parlance of Jeffery Ferguson calling the murders “cruel and atrocious”, as dovetailing quite well into the second special circumstance listed, and may be a harbinger of what to expect in five years.

Donna said...

My goodness she has not aged well at all. She was once a fairly beautiful girl. I do not think Leslie would be a danger to society if released. I think that no matter what she says to the parole board, it will never be good enough.

Max Frost said...

That's the bottom line really: the parole board always concludes by saying the inmate was denied because they pose an unreasonable risk to society, etc. - which Leslie obviously ISN'T.

They should just tell her "You've been denied because, as you know 'Lulu' you're just too damn famous."

Max Frost said...

Very well said, Matt.

hippichick40 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hippichick40 said...

The parole commissioner said Lulu "failed to explain" how someone as intelligent and well-bred could have committed the murders, and was therefore denied parole. Kind of insincere, don't you think? Exactly what kind of "explanation" would satisfy? None, of course. Yes, these were heinous crimes, yes, she taunted the victims' families, yes, she was without remorse. But as Matt has pointed out, were it not for her association with Manson, she'd have been paroled years ago. That infamous association is the ONLY thing still keeping Lulu behind bars -- not her failure to fully "explain" her actions, not the brutal nature of her crimes, not the anguish of the families, not her alleged lack of remorse. That's a fact, and regardless of how you feel about Lulu, you have to admit it's a bit unfair.

Matt said...

Exactly the point, Hippi. Thank you. AND WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN????

St. Circumstance said...

Hippichic its good to see you and I promise this is my very last word on this subject....


that is something I hear very often about the parole situation.

This isn't directed any anyone in particular so please no offense- I am just trying to make a point.

When we are young children and we do something wrong and get grounded what are we told when the kid next door who did the same thing with us gets out of punishment earlier than we do???

lol Get my point????

Lulu knew that her friends did something unspeakable and the next night she asked to join them. She broke into a women's house while she was in a nightgown and helped tie her up. Then she made the woman listen while her husband was killed. She then helped hold her while she was stabbed to death. Then she mutilated the dead body. then she watched while her friend write in blood on the women's wall. Then she went in her kitchen and had something to eat. Then to add insult to injury- She laughed about it in front of the women's grieving family...

I don't know that it gets any more heinous than that no matter what the Saint of Circumstances...

So I ask my last question and leave it up to others to answer.

This women did all that and was originally sentenced to Die. She did not. She actually got out for awhile and had a vacation. She got to communicate with her parents until the passed. she got to marry and have sex with a man. she got visits from John Waters and has a huge group of people who support her and send her things to make her life better. she has the chance to be involved with other people and have relationships and mentor and tutor.

Hasn't life been fair enough to Leslie Van Houten?

Farflung said...

Perhaps it’s simply a “force of will” I’m missing on the subject, because I can’t find any data points to back up what is being stated as fact.

According to the California Department of Corrections, there were a total of 107 inmates who had their death sentences commuted to life in 1972 (with parole as there was NO other option at the time). Of the 107, there are/were seven who are Mansonites, including Manson himself, leaving a balance of 100 others. I personally don’t consider this a large sample pool or representing many, many others. But they were all eligible for parole hearings and 42 of them actually received walking papers spread across some span of time (unknown to me). So far, most people were not granted parole and remained in the joint, but why? Fame or unfairness?

Of the 42 released, a dirty dozen re-offended in another form of felony, or 29% had to commit another crime, after being released from DEATH row. Not a good batting average for the parole board here, or perhaps a one in three chance of becoming a victim of crime from some known behaviors is an acceptable risk to some (not me). Could there be more?

Of the dirty dozen released, two of them went on and committed another murder, with one of the peckerwoods getting executed in 2001. How ironic. Few people consider fairness in relation to the victim, who was killed by a person paroled from death row. Not unfair, just obtuse and nearsighted.

But that’s roughly a five percent chance that a death row parolee will murder again when released. Again I find little or no comfort in this particular statistic. Yet 41 years later and you can still find 34 of the original 107 still serving time in a California prison. I don’t see this significant trend towards release or some massive population who are free and “done much worse”. By 1977 the state had introduced LWOP and there is no parole for those people who commit murder with special circumstances, so how could they be released? They aren’t.

It was during this time period that California typically paroled those convicted of second degree murder in some stupid amount of time akin to five or seven years, and that raised the public’s hackles. Getting fed up with the perceived crime wave, a proposition was passed which allowed the governor to reverse parole recommendations, for murderers only. Hard time, LWOP, and death sentences were still treated the same which means no parole hearings.

So I simply can’t find a list of monsters who ‘did worse’ and were released after a few years in a California clink. Not that I would ever consider using worse behavior, as a rationalization to permit bad behavior. At present the average time served for a life sentence is 31 years (according to CDCR). Until last year, the mandated minimum for the Three Strikes Law was 25 years, and yes, that included the crime of shoplifting. My suggestion, don’t shoplift in California, three times. Twice max, twice then move somewhere else… like Saudi Arabia.

From the 1972 Death Row experience, there appears to be a small data set rather than some systemic process which freed killers, and when there has been a perception of a revolving door, some draconian changes were made within a year or two (LWOP, Three Strikes, RSO, Prop 89, Coalinga State ‘Hospital’). If there is a dataset which indicates otherwise, I’m all eyes, but at present I can’t find what appears to be common knowledge. Oh well.

Patty is Dead said...

Way to go, farf. Patty loves your voice of reason. Sometimes we all remember "facts" that can't be found later on...kudos to you for trying to straighten things out.

Patty is Dead said...

This is a group effort, after all. :)

Unknown said...
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adam said...

I just wish someone from the parole board would stand up at one of these hearings and have the balls to say "You are never getting out. It has fuck all to do with you failing to explain your past actions, it is because you will forever be linked to the name Charles Manson and the Governor of this State knows he will lose votes if he allows you to go free due to the continuing media interest in Manson".

Let's just call a spade a spade here. I'm not boo-hooing for Leslie here, she's made her bed. Just stop the stupid fucking pretence every few years of dangling a carrot in front of these people's nose's and then claiming their parole has been denied in the name of 'justice'.

adam said...

Oh yes, and Leslie looks like shit.

adam said...
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DebS said...

I read at one of the links to a story on Leslie's denial that Debra Tate and Barbara Hoyt were there to speak on behalf of the victim witnesses. Hoyt was quoted in one of the stories.

Tell me, how do Debra and Barbara get to speak at Leslie's hearing? Leslie was not at the Tate residence the night of those murders.

lurch said...

I gotta agree with Adam here.

It's not so much wether we think LULU should be paroled or not, as it is the question of why we even bother with the pretense of these hearings in the first place!

By now it should be obvious that none of the TLB killers will ever leave prison (except maybe in a pine box). Yet every few years we bring em before a parole board and dangle the ol freedom carrot before em only to yank it away for a few more years.


Maybe it's a way of making them payback for the way they mocked the victims families. A lil extra punishment to fit the crime as it were.

All I know is they're wastin my damn tax dollars with this s%#t when I can think of way better ways to spend it!! said...

They have these hearings because they are legally entitled to have them. The parole board would obliviously never say anything like that because if they did, Leslie or whoever would file a writ of habeas corpus.

Debra has read statements for Angela Smaldino in the past when she was unable to attend. I assume that was similarly the case the other day. Victims next of kin are legally entitled to have representatives at the hearings.

richko62 said...

OK who's up next to get their parole request denied....3:)

dawnn said...

I think life on the outside would be far more difficult after that many years in prison.She has done her time I feel she was young involved with a gang of criminals and I believe she is truly sorry.