Leslie Van Houten could be the first member of Charles Manson’s murderous “family” to walk free from jail after the California Board of Parole Hearings recommended her release.
Van Houten, 69, was the youngest of the Manson family convicted for her role in the cult’s killing spree that left nine people murdered at four locations in July and August 1969, obeying Manson’s order to slay “beautiful people”.
The ultimate decision on whether to grant parole to Van Houten, who was 19 at the time of the killings, rests with California Governor Gavin Newsom, whose predecessor and fellow Democrat, Jerry Brown, twice denied the board’s recommendation that she be set free.
Van Houten’s lawyer, Rich Pfeiffer, said he was pleased with how the commissioners focused on making sure that his client took “full responsibility” for her role in the killings.
“She chose to go with Manson. She chose to listen to him. And she acknowledges that,” Mr Pfeiffer was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.
He predicted that it “will be much more difficult” for Governor Newsom to block parole than it was for Mr Brown.
Manson, who died in prison in 2017 at age 83, directed his young, mostly female devotees to kill n what prosecutors said was part of a plan to incite a race war between whites and blacks.
The best-known victim was pregnant Hollywood actress Sharon Tate, killed with four others on August 9 at the home she shared with film director husband Roman Polanski.
Tate’s sister, Debra Tate, attended Van Houten’s parole proceedings and said afterward that she vehemently disagreed with the board’s
“I just have to hope and pray that the Governor comes to the right decision” and keeps Van Houten behind bars, she Tate said.
She is currently being held at the California Institute for Women in Corona.
In a statement, the parole board said its latest ruling begins a 150-day review process during which the agency’s staff will “review all the facts and matters of law related to the decision.”
“If the grant withstands scrutiny, it will then be sent to the governor’s desk,” the board said.