Leslie Van Houten, 68, has been OK'd for parole, but the final decision on her release comes down to California governor Jerry Brown.
Van Houten (left) with Atkins and Krenwinkel in 1970. Photo via Bettmann/Getty Images
Leslie Van Houten—the youngest Manson Family member involved in the cult's infamous 1969 murder spree—was approved by a California parole board this week after nearly half a century in prison, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Van Houten was only 19 when she helped murder Leno and Rosemary La Bianca in their Benedict Canyon home the night after Charles Manson's cult killed Sharon Tate. Van Houten reportedly tied a pillow to Rosemary's head and held her down as another Manson Family member stabbed the woman, then took up the knife and stabbed La Bianca 14 times herself.
Van Houten was convicted and sentenced to life in prison alongside Manson and fellow followers Charles "Tex" Watson, Patty Krenwinkel, and Susan Atkins. Atkins died of brain cancer in 2009, and none of the other Manson Family members have been approved for release.
Van Houten was previously granted parole by a board last year, but California governor Jerry Brown reversed the decision, calling her "a member of one of the most notorious cults in history and an eager participant in the cold-blooded and gory murder of innocent victims."
"The older I get, the harder it is to deal with all of this, to know what I did, how it happened," the 68-year-old Van Houten said during Wednesday's hearing. State officials now have 120 days to review the decision before Governor Brown gives the final say on whether he will reverse the parole panel's decision a second time.
"If he rejects it, we'll go back to court," Van Houten's attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, said. "I'm not going away, and she's going home."