Leslie Van Houten was one of the Manson family members convicted of killing Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in 1969. The LaBianca murders were somewhat overshadowed by the grisly murders of a very pregnant Sharon Tate and four others at Roman Polanski’s Benedict Canyon, California, home the day before, reports TIME Magazine. The murders were collectively orchestrated by Charles Manson and his “family,” and Leslie Van Houten has admitted her role in the horrific deaths of the LaBiancas. According to prosecutors, Manson and his cult (including Van Houten) were trying to incite a race war, inspired in his mind by the Beatles’ song “Helter Skelter.”
However, despite her participation in a two-night killing spree that cost six people their lives, Leslie Van Houten may soon be released from prison, paroled, due to her “good behavior” during her decades in prison.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, not everyone is happy with the decision of a California review board to recommend Leslie Van Houten for parole last Thursday. Cory LaBianca, whose father and stepmother were savagely murdered by Van Houten and her cohorts, reportedly told the the publication that she is “disappointed” in the board’s decision and that the actions leading up to her murder conviction should be what determines whether or not 66-year-old Leslie Van Houten should be freed from prison. Cory LaBianca wasn’t personally at the parole hearing, which took place at the California Institution for Women in Chino, but she did give a rare phone interview in response to the boards ruling on Leslie Van Houten’s possible parole.
“I very much disagree with the ruling. We all need to be held responsible for our behavior. The least we can do, for someone who commits a crime against another human being, is to keep them in jail.”
According to LaBianca, her 41-year-old son listened to Leslie Van Houten’s parole hearing over the phone. She said that he couldn’t stand listening to the horrific renditions of the killings and at one point started crying, telling the commissioner, “I can’t listen to this.”
The LaBianca family members have attended Leslie Van Houten’s parole hearings for decades now. Despite spending years upon years getting caught up in the Van Houten parole process, they have largely remained discreet and out of the spotlight. However, despite the family’s desire to keep Leno and Rosemary LaBianca’s murderer behind bars and their success at doing just that for so many years, after 19 prior parole denials, Leslie Van Houten was recommended for parole on April 14.
Even if Governor Brown doesn’t intervene to stop Leslie Van Houten’s release from prison, it’s not a done deal yet. Despite the ruling of the parole board, a review must still be done by the board’s legal team. If the parole board’s legal team decides to uphold the ruling to release Leslie Van Houten from prison, it will end up on Governor Brown’s desk where he would have the opportunity to prevent her release. Governor Brown’s office has declined to comment on the matter yet.
While the LaBianca family has strenuously protested the release of Leslie Van Houten and continues to do so even after the parole board’s decision, Van Houten’s attorney says she’s “long overdue” for release, citing what she’s “accomplished” while incarcerated.
“A lot of people who oppose parole don’t know anything about Leslie’s conduct. Her role was bad. Everyone’s was. But they don’t know what she’s done since then and all of the good she’s done.”
Even the Parole Commissioner, Ali Zarrinnam, reportedly told Van Houten that her behavior in prison “speaks for itself.”
“Your behavior in prison speaks for itself. Forty-six years and not a single serious rule violation.”
Despite glowing words from the parole board and her attorney, Cory LaBianca is not impressed and doesn’t believe that Leslie Van Houten should breathe free air. According to LaBianca, nothing Van Houten did in prison could undo or make amends for the horrors suffered by her father and stepmother on August 10, 1969.
The LaBiancas home was invaded by Van Houten and other members of the Manson family. The husband and wife were stabbed repeatedly, with Leslie Van Houten admitting to having stabbed Rosemary LaBianca in the back at least 14 times.
“And I took one of the knives, and Patricia had one a knife, and we started stabbing and cutting up the lady.”
In a final insult to the victims, Leslie Van Houten and her accomplices wrote messages on the walls of their home in their own blood.
What do you think? Should Van Houten be paroled? Does her good behavior in prison repay her debt to society? Or should the parole board (or Governor Brown) honor the wishes of Cory LaBianca and keep Leslie Van Houten behind bars?
[Image Courtesy Of AP Images/Nick Ut]