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In this Sept. 6, 2017, file photo, Leslie Van Houten attends her parole hearing at the California Institution for Women in Corona, Calif. California Gov. Jerry Brown has again denied parole for Van Houten, the youngest follower of murderous cult leader Charles Manson. Brown said in his decision announced Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, that despite Van Houten saying at her parole hearing that she accepts full responsibility for her crimes, she still lays too much of the blame on Manson, who died two months ago. (Photo: Stan Lim/Los Angeles Daily News via AP, Pool, File)

Leslie Van Houten held down Rosemary LaBianca, stabbed the woman at least 16 times with a bayonet in her own bedroom, wiped away fingerprints left by her and other Manson Family members in the house, and finally changed into the dead woman’s clothes—and drank chocolate milk from the victims’ refrigerator.

The gruesome details of the crimes on Aug. 10, 1969, were cited by California Gov. Jerry Brown in denying parole for Van Houten, now 68.

“She chose to enter the LaBianca home, brutally stabbed Mrs. LaBianca numerous times, and then helped clean up the scene and dispose of evidence,” the governor wrote in his decision dated Friday.

“There is no question that Van Houten was both fully committed to the radical beliefs of the Manson Family and that she actively contributed to a bloody horror that terrorized the nation,” Brown added. “As our Supreme Court has acknowledged, in rare cases, the circumstances of a crime can provide a basis for denying parole. This is exactly such a case.”

The governor’s denial of Van Houten’s bid for freedom is the second time in a row. She was first recommended for release by the California Parole Board in 2016, but was denied by Brown three months later. Twenty times before that, the parole board had denied her release.

Van Houten, then 19, was the youngest member of the Manson Family, the apocalyptic cult that followed Charles Manson amid the influence of drugs and orgies. The crime spree in the summer of ’69 was intended to spur a race war they called “Helter Skelter” after a song on the Beatles White Album. Helter Skelter would pit whites and blacks against one another, while the Family would have safe refuge in a “bottomless pit” in Death Valley.

The first massacre was Aug. 9, 1969, when four Manson Family members entered the Beverly Hills home of director Roman Polanski and slaughtered five people, including Sharon Tate, Polanski’s wife, who was eight months pregnant at the time.

According to the governor’s latest rejection, Van Houten had admitted at one point that she felt “left out” by not participating in the killings on Cielo Drive. But she was part of the group of seven the next night who arrived at the Los Feliz home of the LaBiancas—and took part in killing 39-year-old Rosemary LaBianca and her husband Leno, 44.

Brown wrote in his decision that he had considered that Van Houten was young at the time of the crimes, impressionable due to an abusive relationship with Manson, and had in most respects turned her life around in prison in the last half-century.

However, the governor said the crimes were just too serious—and she had not taken full agency for her part in the death of the grocer and his wife one night in the summer of ’69.

“Even today, almost five decades later, Van Houten has not wholly accepted responsibility for her role in the violent and brutal deaths of Mr. and Mrs. LaBianca," he wrote.

Rich Pfeiffer, the parole attorney for Van Houten, said Brown’s rejection was the first time in recent California legal history where parole was denied based on the seriousness of the crime alone.

“The governor did not look at Leslie’s actual participation but rather looked at Manson’s crimes as a whole,” Pfeiffer said after the decision. “Leslie is going to go home, the only question is when.”

The status of the “Tex Watson Tapes”—the recordings made by Manson’s right-hand man shortly after the Family was arrested by authorities, and which could provide another account of the crimes—remains to be seen.

Charles Manson, the leader of the group, died in prison in November at the age of 83

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