A California panel on Wednesday recommended that Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten be paroled after serving more than four decades in prison, the AP reports. After a hearing at the women's prison in Chino, California, commissioners of the Board of Parole Hearings found for the third time since 2016 that the 69-year-old Van Houten was suitable for release. If her case withstands a 150-day review process, it will rest in the hands of California's new Gov. Gavin Newsom. Van Houten was recommended for parole twice previously, but then-Gov. Jerry Brown blocked her release. In his decision last year, Brown acknowledged Van Houten's youth at the time of the crime, her more than four decades of good behavior as a prisoner and her abuse at the hands of Manson. But he said she still laid too much blame on Manson for the murders.
Van Houten was among the followers in Manson's murderous cult who stabbed to death wealthy grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in 1969. Van Houten was 19 during the killings, which came a day after other Manson followers killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in Los Angeles. Tate's sister attended Wednesday's proceedings and said afterward that she vehemently disagrees with the parole recommendation. "I just have to hope and pray that the governor comes to the right decision" and keeps Van Houten behind bars, Debra Tate said. Newsom's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. No one who took part in the Tate-LaBianca murders has been released from prison. (Van Houten has said she was traumatized as an adolescent before meeting Manson.)