CNN was informed Tuesday that Leslie Van Houten, a former Charles Manson follower and convicted murderer, was released from a California penitentiary.
Mary Xjimenez, a spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, stated that Van Houten was released to parole supervision.
Xjimenez stated that Van Houten will have a maximum parole term of three years, with a parole discharge review occurring after one year.
Van Houten, who is now in her seventies, was 19 years old when she encountered Charles Manson and joined the murderous cult known as the “Manson family.”
Prior to her release on Tuesday, she was serving concurrent sentences ranging from seven years to life for her role in the 1971 murders of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in their Los Angeles residence.
The office of California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that it would not appeal a May ruling by a state appellate court panel that opened the door to parole for Van Houten, paving the way for her release.
More than 50 years after the Manson cult committed these heinous crimes, the victims’ families and all Californians continue to experience the repercussions. “Since assuming office, Governor Newsom has reversed Ms. Van Houten’s parole three times and defended those decisions in court,” Erin Mellon, the governor’s spokeswoman, said Friday.
“The Governor is dissatisfied with the Court of Appeal’s decision to release Ms. Van Houten, but he will not pursue further action as it is unlikely that further appeals will be successful.
Melton stated that the California Supreme Court admits appeals in a small number of cases and does not typically select cases based on this type of fact-specific determination.
A relative of celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring, who was murdered by the Manson sect in 1969, disagrees with the governor’s office’s decision not to contest Van Houten’s parole.
Anthony DiMaria, the nephew of Sebring, told CNN’s Laura Coates on Tuesday night, “I have great respect for Governor Newsom and the attorney general.” “However, our families vehemently oppose their decision not to file an appeal.”
DiMaria described Van Houten as a “cold-blooded killer who carried out one of the most infamous murder sprees in U.S. history” and stated that her release would set a “dangerous, pernicious precedent.”
Van Houten’s attorney, Nancy Tetreault, told CNN’s John Berman on Tuesday night that her client has “gone through courses to confront what she did—to take responsibility for what she did,” as well as “40 years of psych evaluation” in order to obtain parole.
“I comprehend why… Tetreault told Berman, “The relatives of the victims are emotional and want retribution, but the law prohibits this.” “The law stipulates that she is eligible for parole if she no longer poses a threat to society,” which is the parole requirement.
Tetreault emphasized that she is not attempting to prove Van Houten’s innocence but rather that Van Houten “must accept full responsibility for the crime and has done so.”
Tetreault told CNN last week that Van Houten will participate in a transitional housing program to assist her with employment training, educate her on how to obtain a job, and support herself after spending 53 years in custody.
Tetreault said last week, “If you think about it, she’s never used an ATM or had a cell phone.” The attorney told CNN that she and her client have discussed the possibility of her becoming overburdened as she transitions back to routine daily activities such as grocery shopping.
The attorney stated that Van Houten will seek employment that utilizes the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in humanities she earned while incarcerated. However, she is currently acclimating.
She is adjusting to her new existence outside of prison, Tetreault said on Tuesday.
Following her conviction, Van Houten was sentenced to death; however, California’s abolition of the death penalty resulted in her sentence being commuted to life in prison.
CNN reported that she first became eligible for parole in 1977, and a California parole board commission recommended her release in 2016 after she made 22 appearances before the board.
This decision was reversed five times by the state’s governors, including twice by former Governor Jerry Brown, who cited the heinous nature of the homicides and Van Houten’s eager participation, and three times by Governor Gavin Newsom.
In a 1994 prison interview with CNN’s Larry King, Van Houten detailed her participation in the murders.
“Mrs. LaBianca was lying on the floor, and I stabbed her,” said Van Houten, who was 19 years old at the time of the homicides. In the lower back, approximately sixteen times.