On February 20th, Manson Family member Leslie Van Houten’s attorney filed a motion with California’s 2nd District Appellate Court to have his client released from prison.
The motion was filed by Rich Pfeiffer after another inmate at the California Institute for Women in Corona (where Leslie has served since 1971) tested positive for COVID-19. Pfeiffer argued that his client’s advanced age (Van Houten is 70) made her at risk of infection, and that her previous parole recommendations made her a good candidate for release.
Leslie was convicted of first degree murder for the August 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, married shopowners who lived in Los Feliz, Los Angeles. The murder of the LaBianca’s followed the murder of five individuals (including actress Sharon Tate) in nearby Benedict Canyon and Van Houten believed that the killings were designed to instigate Helter Skelter: the race war that cult leader Charles Manson had prophesized for several months.
After listening to The Beatles’ White Album (released November 1968) Manson had an acid-induced vision of a violent global war between black and white people. He told his ‘Family’ or followers about his vision, explaining that black people would win the war but ultimately realize they didn’t have the ability to lead. The Manson Family would be hiding in Death Valley and would be asked to take over rule of the planet.
While Manson and fellow killer Charles ‘Tex’ Watson both later denied that Helter Skelter was the motive for the Tate/LaBianca killings, the women had a different perspective:
“Patricia (Krenwinkel) confirmed. ‘We started to have a lot more guns at the ranch and knives and people were on lookouts. We were pretty much all running on definite fear and he asked us, constantly… ‘Will you die for me?’’
‘I totally believed Charlie,’ Gypsy (Catherine Share) concurred. ‘I believed that the cities were going to burn. I believed my only safety was to stay with the Family.’
But Manson’s message to the men was different than the doomsday missives he gave the women.”
— The Manson Family: More to the Story by H. Allegra Lansing, published June 2019 from Swann Publications
Leslie’s original conviction for the LaBianca’s murders (1970) was overturned a few years later and she was retried for the crimes with a 1978 conviction that sentenced her to life in prison, with the possibility of parole.
In fact, Leslie has been paroled (or been recommended for parole) three times in recent years but each time the parole board has sent their findings to the Governor’s office, the governors (Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom) have overturned those rulings.
Now, the 2nd Appellate District Court has denied Van Houten’s latest bid for freedom. Just yesterday they denied attorney Pfeiffer’s motion to have his client released.
A reminder that Van Houten did not technically kill anyone but did participate in the murders of the LaBianca’s including stabbing Mrs. LaBianca in the lower back post-mortem (after death).