California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger severely damaged his already questionable reputation by shortening the sentence of the son of a political ally serving time for the brutal murder of another young man.

Another California murderer is now slated to go free. Our current governor has a chance to enhance his legacy by undoing the recent decision of a 2-member parole board, which authorized the release of former Manson Family killer Leslie Van Houten.

The now-66-year-old Van Houten was “numb” after the panel announced its decision following a five-hour hearing at the California Institution for Women in Chino, said her attorney Rich Pfeiffer.

“She’s been ready for this for a long time,” Pfeiffer said outside the prison, adding that those who signed an online petition opposed to her release don’t know the woman she is today.

…..Van Houten, a one-time homecoming princess, participated in the killings of Leno La Bianca and his wife Rosemary a day after other so-called “Manson family” members murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in 1969.

The killings were the start of what Manson believed was a coming race war that he dubbed “Helter Skelter” after a Beatles song. Van Houten said the group planned to retreat to the desert and hide in a hole.

The parole board members cited her good behavior and pursuit of higher education while in jail for their leniency in granting parole. However, there are factors that they obviously failed to consider.

For example, the gruesomeness of the crime of stabbing Rosemary Labianca 16 separate time:

Additionally, Van Houten probably had the reasonable expectation that she would participate in butchering Leno and Rosemary Labianca when Manson Family crew arrived at their home in August, 1969. After all, she had to have heard about the carnage that occurred at the home of actress Sharon Tate the night before.

The couple’s daughter, Cory Labianca, is angered at the decision.

“I very much disagree with the ruling,” she said in a rare telephone interview. “We all need to be held responsible for our behavior. The least we can do, for someone who commits a crime against another human being, is to keep them in jail.”

LaBianca did not attend the parole hearing, held at the California Institution for Women in Chino, but her cousin attended. Her son listened via telephone, she said. At one point, she said, he couldn’t bear to hear the detailed account of the slayings.

“He started crying. My son is 41 years old,” LaBianca said. “He stood, crying, and told the [parole] commissioner, ‘I can’t listen to this.’”

Ultimately, Governor Jerry Brown has the final say if Van Houten is to be released. I encourage Californians to contact his office and voice their disapproval of the parole board’s decision.

I hope he just says, “No.” It would be better for his legacy and the Golden State if he did.

(Featured Image via Chicago Tribune/Twitter)


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