A panel in California has recommended that Charles Manson's follower, Leslie Van Houten, be released after serving more than four decades in prison.
After a hearing at the women's prison in Chino, California, the commissioners of the Council of Hearings of the Council of Freedom judged for the third time that Van Houten, 69, was eligible for release.
If your case resists a 150-day review process, it will remain in the hands of California's new governor, Gavin Newsom. Van Houten was recommended for probation twice before, but then-governor Jerry Brown blocked his release.
Van Houten was among the followers of Manson's homosexual cult who stabbed the wealthy grocery store Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in 1969. Van Houten was 19 during the killings, which happened a day after other followers of Manson killed pregnant Sharon Tate and four others in Los Angeles.
Tate's sister attended Wednesday's jobs and said later that she disagrees strongly with the recommendation of the parole officer.
"I just have to wait and pray for the governor to make the right decision" and keep Van Houten behind bars, Debra Tate said. Newsom's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Van Houten's lawyer, Rich Pfeiffer, said he was pleased with the way the commissioners focused on ensuring that she took "full responsibility" for her role in the murders.
"She chose to go with Manson, she chose to listen to him, and she recognizes that," Pfeiffer said. He predicted that "it will be much harder" for Newsom to block parole than for Brown.
In his decision last year, Brown acknowledged Van Houten's youth at the time of the crime, his more than four decades of good behavior as a prisoner and his abuse at the hands of Manson. But he said she still blamed Manson for the murders.
In his last audience, Van Houten described a troubled childhood. She said she was devastated when her parents divorced when she was 14. Soon after, she said she started hanging out with the school class and using drugs. When she was 17, she and her boyfriend fled to the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco during the city's Summer of Love.
She was traveling up and down the California coast when acquaintances took her to Manson. He was hiding in an abandoned movie house on the outskirts of Los Angeles where he recruited what he called a "family" to survive, which he insisted was a racial war he would launch by committing a series of random, gruesome murders.
Van Houten said he joined several other members of the group to kill the LaBiancas, sculpting Leno LaBianca's body and spreading the couple's blood on the walls.
No one who participated in the Tate-LaBianca murders was released from prison.
Manson died in 2017 of natural causes in a California hospital while serving a life sentence.
Earlier this month, a California parole panel first recommended that Robert Beausoleil, the follower of Manson, be released. Beausoleil was convicted of killing musician Gary Hinman.