Former Charles Manson follower and convicted murderer Leslie Van Houten, 73, has been released from prison after spending more than five decades behind bars, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. File Photo by Damian Dovarganes/EPA-EFE
July 11 (UPI) -- Former Manson follower and convicted murderer Leslie Van Houten has been released from prison after spending more than five decades behind bars, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Van Houten, 73, was released to parole supervision Tuesday and "will have a three-year maximum parole term with a parole discharge review occurring after one year," the department said.
Van Houten's release follows California Gov. Gavin Newsom's refusal last week to contest her parole, which has been denied more than 20 times during her 53 years in prison.
While Newsom had blocked three of Van Houten's previous parole recommendations, the Second District Court of Appeals ruled in May that the governor failed "to account for the decades of therapy, self-help programming and reflection Van Houten has undergone in the past 50 years."
Van Houten worked as a tutor and obtained a master's degree during her prison term.
Newsom decided "not to pursue further action as efforts to further appeal are unlikely to succeed," and added that he was "disappointed," according to his spokesperson Erin Mellon.
"More than 50 years after the Manson cult committed these brutal offenses, the victims' families still feel the impact, as do all Californians," Mellon said in a statement.
Van Houten was convicted in the August 1969 stabbing deaths, ordered by cult leader Charles Manson, of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in Los Angeles. She was 19-years-old at the time.
According to court records, Manson and fellow cult member Charles "Tex" Watson went into the couple's home and tied them up before Van Houten was told to stab Rosemary LaBianca repeatedly. Watson killed Leno LaBianca, who was found with the word "war" carved on his stomach.
Van Houten was originally sentenced to death for the murders but the sentence was later commuted to life in prison.
"The original conviction and death sentence were reversed on appeal and she was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole," according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Watson is currently serving life in prison. Manson died in 2017 while also serving a life sentence.
While Van Houten was convicted in the LaBianca murders, she did not participate in the Manson-ordered Tate murders a day earlier at the Hollywood home of movie director Roman Polanski. Five people were killed, including Polanski's pregnant wife, actress Sharon Tate.