Leslie Van Houten, the 68-year-old American murderer who was serving a life sentence in relation to the killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca was granted parole by a California parole board on Wednesday. It was the 21st time that Houten appeared before the parole board.
The parole decision will now be reviewed by the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, who may decide to modify, approve or uphold the decision, and in case any action isn’t taken, Van Houten’s parole would stand.
LaBianca’s nephew Louis Smaldino was particularly miffed and opposed the decision of granting any parole to the Manson family. “No member of the Manson family deserves parole, ever. She is a total narcissist and only thinks of herself and not the damage she has done,” he said.
Van Houten who was 19-years-old when she was convicted of brutally murdering supermarket executive Leno and his wife Rosemary LaBianca, was arrested a couple of weeks after the incident and later convicted at the Charles Manson trial.
Being the youngest defendant at the original trial that took place, it was speculated that Van Houten could receive a recommendation for mercy, which she subsequently lost as she giggled during the testimony about the murders. After this incident, she was sentenced to death in March 1971 along with Manson and two others, Susan Atkins and Patricia Krenwinkel, and became the youngest woman that was ever sentenced to death in California.
The execution, however, was halted in 1972 because of a Supreme Court ruling which stated that the death penalty was unconstitutional in 1972. In 1977, Van Houten was awarded a retrial which was rendered pointless as the jury could not agree upon a verdict. A third trial was then awarded to Van Houten where she was first set free on bail but later found guilty again. It was during this third trial that she was asked to serve a life sentence with a possibility of parole.
Van Houten was the youngest member of the “Manson Family,” that terrorized California in the late 1960’s. Its cult leader Charles Manson was convicted and found guilty of seven murders in 1971, including that of actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time.
Van Houten, who was born in a middle-class church going family in Los Angeles was traumatized after her parents got divorced when she was 14. She later became pregnant when she was 17 years old. She later dropped out of school and adopted a hippie lifestyle and started living in a…