Manson Family killer Leslie van Houten concocted a dastardly scheme to get out of prison that included having another member of the cult testify that she was “extremely docile,” and under Charles Manson’s control went she went on the gruesome murder spree.
Van Houten, 68, was up for parole in September after becoming the youngest woman sentenced to death in that state for her role in the 1969 Helter Skelter murders that rocked the nation.
Catherina Share, who was known as “Gypsy,” in the 60s, took the stand in a Los Angeles court on Thursday, testifying on her friend’s behalf about her brainwashing at the hands of Manson before she participated in the LaBianca slaughter, the night after Sharon Tate and four others were brutally murdered in Beverly Hills.
“Do you know if Leslie succumbed to Manson’s control?” Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, asked Share when she was on the stand.
“Do I know? I believe so. Because she was extremely docile at the time and anything he said she would just do,” she said. “The thing with me is I would sometimes hesitate or say something back.”
Van Houten’s attorney was presenting mitigating evidence that was allowed due to a new California law that permitted consideration for crimes committed by people under 23. Van Houten was 19 at the time of the murders. The parole board recommended her release in 2016 but Governor Jerry Brown denied her parole.
Share described how they were captives of Manson's.
"Some people could not leave. I was one of them that could not leave," Share said about living with the cold-blooded killer. "I don't think (Van Houten) felt like she was free to leave."
Share described how “she felt like she almost left her body when Manson beat and kicked her after the top of a barrel of food broke off when she and another woman rolled it down a ravine at his behest,” according to MyNewsLa.com.
Under cross-examination, Share admitted that she did not know for a fact that Van Houten had been forbidden to leave the cult, or if she had left at some point. Share also admitted that other cult members had left the ranch and Manson had not harmed them.
Share said that she lived with Manson for three years and when she met him believed he was “really smart and really knew a lot about life.”
“I said, ‘There’s lots of really good-looking guys at this ranch I live at and this great man, Charlie.’ I just thought it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Share said on the stand.
Share gave a new insight into Manson’s mentality in the summer of 1969, saying the feelings at the ranch changed “almost overnight” and she “found out later it was because Charlie thought he killed someone, a black man, over a drug deal.”
Share also described how Van Houten had become “very withdrawn and not talking to anybody and just staying by herself a lot” after the murders of Leno LaBianca, 44, and his 38-year-old wife, Rosemary, who was stabbed multiple times by Van Houten.
Share said Van Houten was “the most remorseful person that I had met in that prison” while the two women were locked up together.
Van Houten was convicted of murder and conspiracy along with Charles “Tex” Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel in the Aug. 9, 1969, deaths of the La Biancas.
Van Houten’s next parole hearing is scheduled for September 6, 2017. Stay with Radar for updates to the story.
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