Manson follower’s lawyer pleads for release during pandemic

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Leslie Van Houten, a Charles Manson follower convicted in a 1969 killing spree, was denied parole for the third time in three years in June 2019. Photo by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The attorney for former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten Monday pushed a state appeals court to release his client on her own recognizance or be given bail after an inmate in Van Houten’s housing unit tested positive for coronavirus.

The motion to California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal was submitted by Rich Pfeiffer, who had requested bail or release for his client, based on her age, in February. The court has not acted on that motion, Pfeiffer said.

“Today I learned that an inmate in Ms. Van Houten’s housing unit tested positive for COVID 19 and she is presently being quarantined,” Pfeiffer said. “Due to her advanced age, this puts Ms. Van Houten at a high risk.”

Van Houton is 70.

Pfeiffer added “Ms. Van Houten is not opposed to home confinement… and she can arrange for all costs outside of prison.”

Van Houten — who is serving a life prison term — was convicted of murder and conspiracy for participating with fellow Manson family members Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel in the August 1969 killings of grocer Leno La Bianca, 44, and his 38-year-old wife, Rosemary, who were each stabbed multiple times in their Los Feliz home.

The former Monrovia High School cheerleader did not participate in the Manson family’s killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in a Benedict Canyon mansion the night before.

Van Houton has been recommended for parole three times, but those recommendations have all been reversed — twice by then-Gov. Jerry Brown and once in 2019 by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

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