Charles Manson Follower Leslie Van Houten Granted Parole

Leslie Van Houten, far right, is shown at a 2002 California Board of Parole hearing as board member Shero Lawin, left, and Van Houten lawyer Christie Webb, center, listen. After serving more than four decades in prison for her role in the Charles Manson Leno/Rosemary LaBianca murders (other Manson disciples murdered Sharon Tate and others at her home), Van Houten was granted parole on Wednesday. Credit: DAMIAN DOVARGANES/AFP/Getty Images

The California Board of Parole Hearings has granted Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten parole.

After denying her release twice in 2018, the parole board declared that Van Houten, 69, is suitable for release.

Van Houten, 19 at the time, was among the followers in Manson's murderous cult who stabbed to death wealthy grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in 1969. The murders came a day after other Manson followers killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in Los Angeles.

In the highly publicized story, Van Houten said in a 2018 hearing that she joined several other members of the group in killing the LaBiancas, carving up Leno LaBianca's body and smearing the couple's blood on the walls.

If Van Houten's current case survives a 150-day review process, it will rest in the hands of California's new Governor Gavin Newsom, as The Associated Press and NBC News reported Wednesday.

Previously, Van Houten was recommended for parole twice, but then-Governor Jerry Brown blocked her release.

While Tate's sister strictly disagrees with the board's recommendation, Van Houten's lawyer Rich Pfeiffer said he was pleased with how the commissioners focused on making sure that she took "full responsibility" for her role in the killings.

"She chose to go with Manson," said Pfeiffer. "She chose to listen to him. And she acknowledges that."

He predicted that it "will be much more difficult" for Newsom to block parole than it was for Brown.

But Debra Tate fervently disagrees with Thursday's recommendation.

"I just have to hope and pray that the governor comes to the right decision" and keeps Van Houten behind bars, said Debra Tate. Newsom's office didn't immediately respond to the AP's request for comment.

In June, 2018, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge William C. Ryan refused to overturn Governor Jerry Brown's decision denying parole to Van Houten, as the Los Angeles Times reported.

In his ruling at the time, Ryan said there was "some evidence" to support Brown's decision in refusing to release Houten, who in 1971 was found guilty of taking part in the brutal LaBianca killings in Los Angeles.

At the time, Ryan found that Van Houten "would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society." He added that the brutal and terrorizing manner in which Van Houten and her accomplices killed the LaBiancas demonstrates how the crime was more heinous than most and stands apart from others.

Reportedly, last year Brown acknowledged Van Houten's youth at the time of the crime, plus her four-plus decades of good behavior in prison and her abuse at the hands of Mason. But still, Brown said she placed too much blame on Manson for the murders.

Manson died in 2017 of natural causes at a California hospital while serving a life sentence.

At her previous hearing, Van Houten said she had a troubled childhood, started running with a rough crowd after her parents divorced and ran away to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury District with a boyfriend at age 17.

Common friends introduced her to Manson, who was holed up at an abandoned movie ranch on the outskirts of Los Angeles. He had recruited what a so-called "family" to survive what he insisted would be a race war he would launch by committing a series of random, horrifying murders.

As Van Houten awaits the 15-day review process, no one else who participated in the Tate-LaBianca murders has been released from prison, according to the AP.