Almost 50 years after committing the murders which resulted in a life sentence, Leslie Van Houten, is up for parole. The Charles Manson follower was initially sentenced to death, but after the death penalty was revoked in the state of California, her sentence was reduced to life imprisonment with eligibility for parole.

While Charles Manson, nor any of his other followers have been granted parole, Leslie might be the first person to obtain it. Her attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, is advocating for the youngest of the followers. She was 19-years-old at the time of the 1969 murders of Los Angeles grocer Leno La Bianca and his wife, Rosemary.

leslie van houten

Leslie during a 1977 interview.

“I feel absolutely horrible about it, and I have spent most of my life trying to find ways to live with it,” Leslie told the two-member panel during her parole hearing. “To tell you the truth, the older I get the harder it is to deal with all of this, to know what I did, how it happened.”

The panel must have been convinced by her testimony because they ruled that she is suitable for release. However, that ruling must be upheld by state Parole Board and Gov. Jerry Brown, who reversed another panel’s ruling last year.

It’s hard to imagine Leslie living her life as a free woman considering the grave nature of her crimes. Nearly five decades ago, she said she held Rosemary down with a pillowcase over her head as others stabbed her dozens of times. Then, she picked up a butcher knife and stabbed the woman more than a dozen times.

Despite this, her attorney is confident that she will be released. “I’m getting her out of here. That’s not an issue. The question is when.”

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