Parole denied for youngest Manson follower

The 63-year-old Van Houten was convicted of murder and conspiracy for her role in the 1969 slaying of an LA couple


By Linda Deutsch
Associated Press

CHINO, California — Former Charles Manson cult follower and convicted murderer Leslie Van Houten has been denied parole once again.

A California panel rejected her bid for release from state prison Wednesday at her 20th parole hearing.

The 63-year-old Van Houten was convicted of murder and conspiracy for her role in the August 1969 slayings of a wealthy Los Angeles couple. They were stabbed to death the night after Manson's followers killed actress Sharon Tate and four others.

The killings are among the most notorious murders of the 20th century.

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.

Van Houten, who has been in custody for 44 years, will be eligible for another parole hearing in five years.

Van Houten had told the parole board she has changed and is trying to live a life for healing.

"I know I did something that is unforgiveable, but I can create a world where I make amends," she said.

Van Houten did not participate in the Tate killings. During the penalty phase of her trial, she confessed to joining in stabbing Mrs. La Bianca after she was dead.

"He could never have done what he did without people like me," said Van Houten of Manson.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequiera argued against parole.

"There are certain crimes that are so heinous, so atrocious, so horrible that it should cause denial of parole," he said.

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."

Satris said his client has reformed herself.

Van Houten had been 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 became involved with drugs and was recruited into Manson's cult.

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

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

Copyright 2013 Associated Press

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