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Is the 19th time the charm?
Leslie Van Houten, 60, former Charles Manson cult member, is facing a parole hearing today. In each of her previous 18 attempts, she came up empty. But this time, she has a new attorney, Brandie Devall, and a new strategy.
Devall plans to point to favorable California Supreme Court rulings for parolees issued in 2008 and 2009, according to the Associated Press. Devall stated that the cases she will refer to were not decided when Van Houten was last up for parole. She will highlight the fact that Van Houten is 60 years old now, was young when she committed the crimes and that she has expressed sincere remorse. She also plans to argue that Van Houten is not currently dangerous.
The California Supreme Court rulings that Devall will point to say that it is incorrect to refuse parole unless there is evidence that a prisoner is currently a danger to public safety. The parole board cannot refuse parole based purely on the details of the crime committed by the inmate long ago.
Van Houten was involved with the killings of Leno and Rosemary La Bianca as part of the Charles Manson cult at the age of 19. She was convicted of murder as well as conspiracy in the killings of the La Biancas, who were stabbed to death in 1969. After her conviction Van Houten confessed to attending the killing of the La Biancas and joining in stabbing Mrs. La Bianca after she was already dead. The La Bianca murder came one night after the killing the of actress Sharon Tate and four others, also by the Manson cult. The case gripped the nation and remains in the public conscious more than 40 years later.