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Leslie Van Houten participated in a killing that terrorized Southern California. She should stay in prison.

Leslie Van Houten participated in a killing that terrorized Southern California. She should stay in prison.
A California review board recommended parole for Leslie Van Houten, who was convicted in the 1969 killings of a grocer and his wife. (Nick Ut / Associated Press)

To the editor: I found Linda Deutsch's opinion regarding the proposed release of convicted murderer Leslie Van Houten both naive and offensive. ("Release Leslie Van Houten. If she hadn't been a Manson follower, she would have left prison long ago," Opinion, Sept. 17)

I remember the terror of the summer of 1969, wondering what monsters were on the loose looking for more victims. The coroner indicated Rosemary LaBianca, the woman Van Houten was convicted of killing, was stabbed 41 times.

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LaBianca's body was barbarically attacked; and this after Van Houten restrained her so she could hear her husband being brutalized. Good for Van Houten for making the best of her situation as a prisoner, but the LaBianca family has suffered incredibly more than she has or will.

By the way — 68, Van Houten's age, is not old. Get back to us when she is 87. I trust Gov. Jerry Brown will not go down in history as the one who approved the parole of a Manson family killer.

David Boydston, Alta Loma

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To the editor: Van Houten is quoted as saying, "I could not have lived without paying for what I did," to which Deutsch replies, "But she has paid."

Really? What is a fair price to pay for the vicious stabbing of LaBianca, even after she was probably dead?

Van Houten's prison behavior was reported as being exemplary, and she has helped and counseled other prisoners. But is that really a fair price to pay? Or was Van Houten's crime so horrifying an act as to be beyond redemption?

I hope Brown will ask LaBianca family members and loved ones if Van Houten has paid a fair price before he makes his decision whether to block her parole.

Harvey Barkan, Studio City

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To the editor: I couldn't agree more with the sentiments expressed by Deutsch.

I too covered the Manson family trials from start to finish and wrote a book about the case even before the trials began. Van Houten today is not the young brainwashed woman I saw in court.

After almost half a century, none of us is the person we once were.

Ivor Davis, Ventura

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