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The Youngest Manson Murderer Might Get Out of Prison Soon

Leslie Van Houten has been in prison for 46 years now.

by Helen Donahue
Apr 15 2016, 5:15pm

Read: We Spoke to Charles Manson's Guitarist About Making Art While Serving Time for Murder

Leslie Van Houten was recommended for parole on Thursday after spending nearly half a century in prison for her role in two Manson Family murders, the Associated Press reports.

Van Houten was "numb" when, after a five-hour hearing at the California Institution for Women in Chino, the panel gave her a thumbs-up for release. Her attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, said she's ready for freedom, adding "it really should have happened a long time ago," though the inmate still faces another hurdle or two before getting out.

Commissioner Ali Zarrinnam told Van Houten she's done her time, and that her behavior speaks for itself. "Forty-six years and not a single serious rule violation," he said.

Van Houten wasn't always so well behaved, obviously. On Thursday, she gave a graphic account of how, in 1969, she helped murder Leno and Rosemary La Bianca one day after the Manson Family killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others at her Hollywood estate.

The woman said she helped tie a pillow to Rosemary's head with a lamp cord and held her down while another Manson follower stabbed her. Van Houten then took up the knife and stabbed the woman repeatedly herself.

She was 19 at the time of the murders.

Van Houten would be the first Manson cult member to be released on parole, but the panel's recommendation still faces administrative review, and Governor Jerry Brown has the final say on her release.

Louis Smaldino, the nephew of Leno La Bianca, said Thursday that "the Manson family are terrorists" and pleaded that she remain behind bars.