Manson Family Member Leslie Van Houten to Be Released From Prison in Weeks, Her Attorney Says

An appeals court ruled in May the convicted murderer should be paroled after decades in prison, overturning California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s veto

Leslie Van Houten, Charles Manson (Getty Images)
Leslie Van Houten and Charles Manson (Credit: Getty Images)

Leslie Van Houten, a member of the Manson Family who was convicted of committing two of the cult’s murders, will be released from prison in a matter of weeks, Van Houten’s attorney said Friday.

The California Parole Board had recommended Van Houten be released in 2022, a recommendation California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed. On May 30 of this year, an appeals court overturned Newsom’s veto and ordered Van Houten to be freed.

Newsom had until July 12 to challenge that ruling, but ultimately opted not to do so.

“The Governor is disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten but will not pursue further action as efforts to further appeal are unlikely to succeed,” Newsom’s spokesperson said in a statement to NBC on Friday. “The California Supreme Court accepts appeals in very few cases, and generally does not select cases based on this type of fact-specific determination,”

Van Houten was convicted in 1971 of killing Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, whose murders were just two of those carried out in August 1969 by followers of cult leader Charles Manson. She was originally sentenced to death, but her sentence was commuted to life in prison after the California Supreme Court ruled the state’s death penalty unconstitutional.

Van Houten was granted two retrials later in the decade, and was once again sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Since 2016, she has been recommended for parole five times, and each time the recommendation was vetoed, first by former Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016 and 2017, and three more times by Newsom.

In its ruling overturning Newsom’s now-final veto, the appeals court’s majority said in May that “Van Houten has shown extraordinary rehabilitative efforts, insight, remorse, realistic parole plans, support from family and friends, favorable institutional reports, and, at the time of the Governor’s decision, had received four successive grants of parole.” Read more about it here.

Manson died in prison in 2017.