Ex-Manson follower Leslie Van Houten released from prison after 53 years
A former follower of notorious cult leader Charles Manson has been released on parole after serving more than five decades of life imprisonment.
In 1969, Van Houten, 73, was a 19-year-old member of the “Manson family” when she participated in the murder of a Los Angeles grocer and his wife.
The governors of California blocked her previous parole bids five times.
An appeals court later reversed that decision.
A former homecoming queen, Van Houten was the youngest Manson follower to be convicted of murder for killing California grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary.
Rosemary LaBianca was held down by Van Houten while someone else stabbed her during the killings, which took place just days after the murders of Sharon Tate and four others. It was later revealed that she stabbed the woman after she had died.
According to Van Houten’s lawyer, Nancy Tetreault, she left a women’s prison in California early Tuesday.
It is likely she will be on parole for three years, Ms Tetreault said, and she hopes to get a job as soon as possible.
Those who followed Charles Manson did these things
The obituary of Charles Manson
Known as one of America’s most notorious cult leaders, Charles Manson ordered nine murders in the hopes of starting a race war. The song “Helter Skelter” inspired the murders. As of 2017, he had been imprisoned.
Van Houten earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees while working as a tutor in prison following her life sentence.
It took Van Houten dozens of parole denials during her incarceration for her to be recommended for parole in 2016. However, both Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom rejected the recommendations.
She was last blocked from parole in 2020, but was ultimately overruled by an appeals court.
According to Mr Newsom, he would not block her parole this time, paving the way for her release on Tuesday.
According to the governor, if the legal battle continues, California’s Supreme Court is unlikely to hear her appeal of her release.
The statement said the families of the victims were still feeling the impact of the brutal killings committed by the Manson cult more than 50 years ago.
Following her release from prison, Van Houten is expected to spend about a year at a halfway house, where she will learn how to navigate a different world.
“She has to learn how to use the internet and buy things without cash,” Ms Tetreault told the AP. Compared to when she first entered, this is a very different world.
In her parole hearings, Van Houten reiterated her regret for her involvement in the killings and involvement with Manson, later admitting she had let him overpower her “individual thinking.”
In a 2002 parole hearing, she described his beliefs as “lock, stock, and barrel.” “I had no doubts about it.”