Parole Rejected for Manson Follower
FRONTERA, Calif. (AP) _ A fifth bid for parole by former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten was rejected Wednesday by a parole board that said her brutal act of murder ″literally shocked the conscience of our society.″
Miss Van Houten, 35, is serving a life sentence for the 1969 murders of wealthy supermarket owner Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, the night after other Manson followers killed actress Sharon Tate and four others. None of the assailants has been released.
Rudolph Castro, one of three Board of Prison Terms members at the hearing, said that despite Miss Van Houten’s decision to remain silent during the hearing on advice of her attorney, the board would consider her request again in one year and implied the results could be more favorable.
″As noted during the hearing, it became a little disconcerting that the prisoner, under advice of counsel, was not able to speak,″ Castro said. ″Yet, if she continues the program the way it’s been noted, her suitability for parole, the issue of suitability, is much closer than she realizes.″
″The panel gave considerable weight to the life crime that literally shocked the conscience of our society,″ Castro said. ″The degree of violence administered with the use of knives on the two murdered victims in the sanctity of their own home revealed a callous disgregard for human life.″
Deputy District Attorney Stephen Kay said Miss Van Houten, a former homecoming princess from Monrovia High School, was the only Manson follower who should ever be paroled, although he said she’s not ready yet.
Her other requests for a parole date were rejected in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1984.
The board commended her for her unblemished record at the California Institution for Women here and the fact that she earned a bachelor’s degree, citing that as the basis for their decision to consider another parole request in one year.
Earlier, defense attorney Dan Mrotek failed to convince the board to delay the hearing for 30 days to allow him to study 5,800 pages of testimony from her trial. Mrotek said he was retained April 16 represent Miss Van Houten and did not have sufficient time to prepare.
Mrotek said he would file an administrative appeal with the Board of Prison Terms and if that was rejected, he would seek a writ of habeus corpus from Superior Court ordering Miss Van Houten freed on grounds of denial of due process.
″It is our position that we will attend the hearing and respond in any way courtesy requires but we will not participate,″ Mrotek told the board. ″I am taking that position because I do not want to waive the grounds to the objection I have made.″
Kay, who prosecuted the LaBianca case, recounted for the board the grisly murders.
″Miss Van Houten put a pillowcase on Mrs. LaBianca’s head and held her down so (Patricia) Krenwinkel could stab her. Krenwinkel stabbed her with such force the knife bent,″ Kay said.
Miss Van Houten also repeatedly stabbed Mrs. LaBianca, although she claimed the woman was already dead, Kay said.
He noted Miss Van Houten raided the LaBiancas’ refrigerator and drank chocolate milk afterward. Words written in blood were later found scrawled on the ice-box door.
″At the time of the crime, we have to look at what she did,″ he said. ″She described herself as feeling like a shark stabbing Mrs. LaBianca. Well, do we want to release a shark into society? I think not.″
However, Miss Van Houten is the only Manson family member that Kay has said he would ever consider eligible for parole.
The murder of the LaBiancas came the night after other Manson followers invaded the home of Polish film director Roman Polanski. They killed Polanski’s 81/2 -months pregnant wife, Miss Tate, along with coffee heiress Abigail Folger, hair stylist Jay Sebring, Polanski friend Voityck Frokowsky and Steven Parent, a friend of Polanski’s caretaker. Polanski was away the night of the slayings.
Manson and his followers convicted in the murders, including Miss Van Houten, Susan Atkins, Miss Krenwinkel and Charles ″Tex″ Watson, all remain behind bars.