A family and a friend of victims murdered by the Manson Family in 1969 condemned Leslie Van Houten’s release, calling it “mind-numbing, nauseating” and a “sad day” when justice was lost.
Anthony DiMaria, the nephew of victim Jay Sebring, told the Los Angeles Times that Van Houten’s release didn’t come as a surprise but that didn’t “make it any less painful.”
“It doesn’t lessen the blow,” DiMaria said. “It’s just as mind-numbing, nauseating, gut-wrenching and painful to think that this release is real.” Van Houten, 73, a member of the Manson Family who was convicted of two murders committed by the cult, was released from prison on Tuesday.
The California Parole Board recommended Van Houten be released in 2022, but California Gov. Gavin Newsom overruled the request. On May 30, 2018, an appeals court rejected Newsom’s veto and ordered Van Houten’s release. Newsom had until July 12 to appeal the decision, but he chose not to.
Ava Roosevelt, a companion of Manson Family victim Sharon Tate who was also nearly killed by the gang, expressed anger and disappointment at Van Houten’s release.
Here is a video about the Former Manson Follower Leslie Van Houten Released From Prison.
Former Manson Follower Leslie Van Houten Released from Prison pic.twitter.com/iUTwmcRrYk
— People (@people) July 12, 2023
“I don’t believe a person that’s capable of committing such a heinous crime can ever be rehabilitated, that kind of thing is ingrained in your DNA,” Roosevelt said in an interview with The U.S. Sun. “It’s a sad day for me, it really is, because I don’t think justice has been served for Sharon and the other victims at all.”
Roosevelt added that she was in favor of the de@th penalty for the perpetrators of the Manson murders and that she wished Newsom had “stuck to his guns.”
“It’s not right,” Roosevelt told The Sun. “I don’t know if she’s mentally prepared to be free at this point […] but I think she definitely still poses a threat to society and I don’t think she should’ve been given a chance to even try to adjust to the outside world.
“As a society, we have to set some standards about what you can’t get away with. I don’t care if she was in prison for 53 years. She still has the ability to watch television, to talk to people, and this was not a privilege awarded to Sharon and those others who perished.
“It’s shocking and I just worry what knock-on effect this will all have.”
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Van Houten was convicted in 1971 of murdering Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, just two of the victims of cult leader Charles Manson’s followers in August 1969. Her sentence was reduced to life in prison after the California Supreme Court declared that the state’s de@th punishment was unconstitutional.
Later in the decade, Van Houten was allowed two retrials and was sentenced to life in ja!l without the chance of release. She has been recommended for parole five times since 2016, and each time it has been denied, first by previous Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016 and 2017, and then three more times by Newsom.
The appeals court’s majority said in May, in overturning Newsom’s now-final veto, that “Van Houten has shown extraordinary rehabilitative efforts, insight, remorse, realistic parole plans, support from family and friends, favorable institutional reports, and, at the time of the Governor’s decision, had received four successive grants of parole.”