California Governor Gavin Newsom, who had previously blocked parole efforts for Leslie Van Houten on multiple occasions, announced on Friday, July 7, that he will not contest a California appellate court’s decision to grant her parole. Newsom’s deadline to challenge the decision with the Supreme Court was Monday, July 10. In a statement issued through NBC News, Erin Mellon, spokesperson for the governor’s office, expressed disappointment with the Court of Appeal’s ruling but stated that further appeals were unlikely to succeed, leading to the decision not to pursue additional action.
The governor’s office noted that the California Supreme Court only accepts appeals in rare cases and does not typically select cases based on the specific facts involved. Leslie Van Houten, now in her 70s, is serving a life sentence for her involvement in the 1969 murders of Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, as part of the Charles Manson cult. Following a review of her record and the necessary paperwork, Van Houten could be released from the California Institution for Women in Corona within two weeks, according to her attorney Nancy Tetreault. Despite being recommended for parole five times since 2016, Van Houten’s release was denied by both Newsom and former Governor Jerry Brown.
However, a state appeals court ruled in May that she should be granted parole, highlighting her significant efforts at rehabilitation, insight, remorse, realistic parole plans, support from family and friends, and positive behavior while in prison. Tetreault expressed Van Houten’s joy and gratitude, emphasizing that she is no longer the person she was when she committed the murders. At the time of the killings, Van Houten was 19 years old, making her the youngest among Manson’s followers