The idea that a killer is no longer a danger to the public or that they can change and become productive members of society has overridden the rights of victims’ families to get the justice they deserve. That’s a tragedy.
Almost 54 years ago, Manson cult member Leslie Van Houten took part in the ritualistic and sadistic massacre of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Charles Watson stabbed Leno to death and then stabbed Rosemary, with Patricia Krenwinkel’s help. Van Houten took a knife and joined in, gleefully stabbing and finishing off the victim. Rosemary LaBianca was stabbed more than 40 times.
The way the L.A. Times Editorial Board reported Van Houten’s actions that horrific night in 1969, you may have thought she sliced through a loaf of bread.
All the victims of the Manson cult suffered agonizing deaths. The scene at 10050 Cielo Drive was a bloodbath, with words like “pig” splattered in blood all over the walls. Sharon Tate was 8 ½ months pregnant when she was repeatedly stabbed. Her killer, Susan Atkins, died in prison of a brain tumor. That’s fortunate, because had she lived Atkins might have been released, too.
The newspapers indicated there were seven victims, but there were eight victims when one considers Sharon Tate’s unborn child.
Leslie Van Houten and the other Manson “family” members should have been executed via painful inhalation of cyanide gas. Instead, the Manson clan all caught a lucky break in 1972, when the US Supreme Court ruled in the Furman v. Georgia decision that the death penalty constitutes “cruel and unusual” punishment. The sentences of Charles Manson and his followers were commuted to life imprisonment.
One year later, the same US Supreme Court held that murdering innocent unborn children for all nine months of pregnancy is not cruel and unusual but is a constitutional right, a choice between a woman and her doctor. The Dobbs decision overturned Roe v. Wade. But millions of innocent human lives have been snuffed out since 1973.
In the perverse worldview of many progressives, this is justice. The death penalty is cruel and unusual when used on those who commit the most heinous crimes. But it is never cruel or unusual when the victims are innocent and defenseless unborn children.
People who support “freedom of choice” forget that the Manson murderers had a choice to make, too. Their choice was to go to 10050 Cielo Drive and the next night to visit the home of the LaBiancas. They should have paid the ultimate price for that.
Charles Manson’s followers were given preferential treatment in prison, especially Charles Watson who was present both nights and participated in all of the slayings. Many people are not aware that Charles Watson got married and received conjugal visitation rights. He had four children while in prison, after butchering all those people. That’s California’s definition of justice for mass murder.
I was 15 when the Manson murders happened and these crimes changed how I thought about victims’ rights and justice, horrified and traumatized by the atrocious brutality of the crimes. The police officer who found Sharon Tate’s body thought the motive was vengeance, because he could not believe what he witnessed at the murder scene.
The victims’ families are devastated by the California Appeals Court’s decision that freed Leslie Van Houten. California Governor Gavin Newsom said he was “disappointed,” but would not intervene or challenge their ruling. He is not disappointed enough.