LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A parole panel stunned Los Angeles Thursday when it recommended freedom for Leslie Van Houten, former Manson family member and convicted killer.
Van Houten took part in the murder of Leno LaBianca, a Los Feliz grocer, and his wife Rosemary.
Van Houten stabbed Rosemary 14 times. The LaBiancas were chosen by the Manson family at random.
On Friday, the couple’s grandson spoke to CBS2’s Tom Wait for a story that is Only On 2.
“It’s kind of surreal, to be honest with you, the whole thing,” said Tony LaMontagne.
The LaBianca grandson describes the moment he learned Van Houten was recommended for parole. LaMontagne says every parole hearing is an emotional rollercoaster.
“So yesterday, I get off of the phone from the parole hearing, and the first thing I do is lay down on my couch and start bawling. It’s just a flood of emotions,” he says.
LaMontagne says the panel’s decision sent shockwaves through his family.
“What type of decision has the parole board actually made? They’re making a decision to allow a murderer to come back into your neighborhood, my neighborhood. Last time they were in my neighborhood, they killed my family,” he said.
Through this gut-wrenching saga, LaMontagne says the stories of the victims like his grandparents have been lost. Leno was growing his business when he and wife were taken.
“I’ve grown up my entire life with this as part of my family. Hearing stories from my grandmother,” he says before being overcome with emotion. “Sorry.”
LaMontagne says as he as gotten older, he’s made a sobering realization.
“My grandfather was 44 years old. His wife was 38. I’m 44. So, I grew up with these stories about how my grandfather was an old man. He had lived a long life. That would be like if I were to die right now,” he said.
The panel’s decision will be reviewed by the parole board and then the governor gets the final say on Van Houten’s bid for freedom.
LaMontagne and his family say they will fight to keep her locked up.