Newsom will not contest Manson Van Houten’s parole

Gov. Gavin Newsom will not appeal a California appeals court’s decision to allow Leslie Van Houten to be paroled, bringing the former henchman of Charles Manson closer to release after more than 50 years behind bars.

“The governor is disappointed with the appeals court’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten, but will not pursue further action as further appeal efforts are unlikely to be successful,” Erin Mellon, Newsom’s director of communications, said in a statement Friday.

Van Houten, 73, is serving a life sentence for helping Manson and members of the cult leader’s “family” kill Los Angeles grocer Lino LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in August 1969.

Van Houten was 19 at the time of the LaBianca murders, of which she was convicted along with Manson and fellow “Family” members Susan Atkins, Charles “Tex” Watson, and Patricia Krenwinkel.

The May decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeals marked the first time a court had reversed a governor’s refusal to parole a Manson follower.

Manson and his followers were sentenced to death in 1971, but the sentences were commuted to life imprisonment after the death penalty was ruled unconstitutional in 1972.

Since then, Van Houten has been recommended for parole several times and has held more than two dozen parole hearings. Every recommendation was rejected by Newsom or his predecessor, Governor Jerry Brown.

Newsom, who rejected Van Houten’s last recommendation for parole, in 2022, had a 10-day window to appeal the appeals court’s decision, which would have required filing a petition with the California Supreme Court.

“More than 50 years after the Manson cult committed these brutal crimes, the families of the victims are still feeling the impact, as are all Californians,” Mellon said.

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