LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California board granted parole on Wednesday to Leslie Van Houten, who as a follower of cult leader Charles Manson, took part in one of the most notorious murder sprees of the 20th century.
It was the second straight year that Van Houten, 68, was deemed suitable for parole, although California Governor Jerry Brown overturned last year’s decision, saying at the time she “poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.”
Van Houten is serving a life sentence for stabbing to death Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their Los Angeles home on Aug. 10, 1969. The decision on Wednesday by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation starts a 150-day review process that will likely culminate in a final decision by Brown.
Brown’s office was not immediately available for comment on the most recent parole decision.
Manson, also serving a life sentence, directed Van Houten and his other mostly young, female followers - known as the Manson Family - to murder seven people in August 1969 in what prosecutors said was part of a plan to incite a race war between whites and blacks.
Van Houten was found guilty of the LaBianca murders in 1971 and sentenced to death, but that conviction and sentence were overturned on appeal. She was retried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1978.
The LaBiancas were stabbed to death, after which the killers used their blood to write “Rise,” “Death to Pigs” and “Healter-Skelter,” a misspelled reference to a Beatles song, on the walls and a refrigerator door.
Among the victims of the Manson Family that month was actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski. She was stabbed 16 times by cult members.
Four other people were stabbed or shot to death at Tate’s home on Aug. 9, 1969, by Manson’s followers, who scrawled the word “Pig” in blood on the front door before leaving. Van Houten was not involved in the Tate murders.
Manson is serving his sentence at Corcoran State Prison in California for the seven Tate-LaBianca killings and the murder of another man, Gary Hinman, in July 1969.