By Dan Whitcomb
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles' top prosecutor on Tuesday urged California Governor Jerry Brown to keep former Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten behind bars, despite the recommendation of a parole board that she be released.
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a five-page letter to the governor that Van Houten's role in the Aug. 9, 1969, stabbing murders of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca and her still "disturbingly distorted" view of Manson made her unsuitable for parole.
"She simply does not see (Manson) for the brutal megalomaniac that he is," Lacey wrote, adding that during her parole hearing Van Houten described the cult leader as "a 'myth' of a person" and a "caricature of horror."
"This description alone would lead to the rational conclusion that inmate Van Houten has no appreciation of the magnitude of her involvement with the Manson Family nor her crimes," Lacey wrote.
Van Houten, 66, is serving a life sentence for the LaBianca murders, which were directed by Manson as part of a plan to incite a race war between whites and blacks.
The LaBiancas were stabbed to death, after which the killers used their blood to write "Rise," "Death to Pigs" and "Healter-Skelter," a misspelled reference to a Beatles song, on the walls and a refrigerator door.
Van Houten was found guilty of the LaBianca murders in 1971 and sentenced to death but that conviction and sentence were overturned on appeal. She was retried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 1978.
A two-member panel of California's Board of Parole Hearings recommended parole for Van Houten in April after a hearing with her at the state prison in Corona, California, where she is serving her sentence.
Brown can uphold that recommendation, overturn it or order further hearings.
Also among the victims of Manson and his mostly young, female followers was actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski. She was stabbed 16 times by cult members.
Four other people were stabbed or shot to death at Tate's home that night by the Manson followers, who scrawled the word "Pig" in blood on the front door before leaving. Van Houten was not involved in the Tate murders, which occurred the night before the LaBianca slayings.
Manson, now 81, is serving a life sentence at Corcoran State Prison in California for the seven Tate-LaBianca killings and the murder of another man, Gary Hinman, in July 1969.
(Editing by G Crosse and Matthew Lewis)