Newsom rejects parole grant for former Manson follower Leslie Van Houten

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Gov. Gavin Newsom today rejected a recommendation that former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten be granted parole, saying she still "poses an unreasonable danger to society."

Newsom's decision marks the third time Van Houten, now 69, has been recommended for parole by a state parole board but had the decision overturned by a governor. Former Gov. Jerry Brown twice reversed parole recommendations for her.

The parole board recommended in January that Van Houten be paroled. That decision began a 120-day legal review, followed by a 30-day period for the governor to act on the recommendation.

In a five-page written decision, acknowledged that Van Houten "has made commendable efforts to improve herself in prison, earning a bachelor's and master's degree and completing extensive self-help programming."

But he wrote that "these factors are outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate she remains unsuitable for parole at this time."

"When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that she currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time," Newsom wrote in his decision.

Van Houten is still awaiting a decision from a state appeals court in a lawsuit she filed challenging Brown's most recent rejection of her parole. In a hearing in April, her attorney argued that she deserves to be released because she has been fully rehabilitated, is no longer a threat to anyone, has been a model prisoner and takes full responsibility for her crimes.

Van Houten was convicted of murder and conspiracy for participating with fellow Manson family members Charles "Tex" Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel in the Aug. 9, 1969, killings of Leno La Bianca, 44, and his 38-year-old wife, Rosemary, who were each stabbed multiple times in their Los Feliz home.

Manson died Nov. 19, 2017.

The former Monrovia High School cheerleader and homecoming princess 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.