This is the third time in three years that Leslie Van Houten has been denied parole by the California governor

By Helen Murphy
June 05, 2019 10:42 AM
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Leslie Van Houten, a former member of the muderous Manson family, was denied parole for the third time in three years by the governor of California.

According to the Associated Press, on Monday governor Gavin Newsom overruled a parole board’s January decision to free Van Houten, after former governor Jerry Brown denied her release twice in previous years.

“While I commend Ms. Van Houten for her efforts at rehabilitation and acknowledge her youth at the time of the crimes, I am concerned about her role in these killings and her potential for future violence,” Newsom wrote in his decision, according to the AP.

“Ms. Van Houten was an eager participant in the killing of the LaBiancas and played a significant role,” he added.

A former homecoming princess, Van Houten was convicted — along with other members of Charles Manson‘s “family” — of the brutal 1969 slayings of Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary. She was 19 and the youngest of the group at the time.

Van Houten, now 69, was not involved in the infamous grisly killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others during a two-day spree by Manson followers in the same year.

She admitted to attacking Rosemary, who was stabbed 47 times. Convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder, Van Houten was sentenced to life in prison and began her sentence in 1978.

“Without a deeper understanding of what led her to submit to Mr. Manson and participate in these horrific murders, I cannot be sure that Ms. Van Houten is capable of acting differently in the future,” Newsom wrote, according to CNN.

Leslie Van Houten in 2016
Nick Ut/AP Photo
Leslie Van Houten in 1969
George Brich/AP

According to CNN, Van Houten has been a model prisoner, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees and completing “extensive” self-help programs.

“She has a master’s degree and her thesis is on sustained rehabilitation,” Van Houten’s attorney Rich Pfeiffer previously told PEOPLE. “They are using her thesis as a model for setting up rehabilitation programs in Europe. She is a special person.”

Pfeiffer was not surprised by the governor’s decision earlier this week.

“Nobody wants to put their name on her release, but when they’re speaking honestly or off the record, everyone wants her to go home,” he said, according to the AP.

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“[Newsom is] going to have more political aspirations that go well beyond the state of California, and he doesn’t want this tagging behind him,” he added, the outlet reports. “Not a surprise. I would have been shocked if he would have said ‘Go home.’”