The Official Sharon Tate Fansite


6/01/02 - Debra Tate appeared on the Fox News program Judith Regan Tonight to discuss the possibility of Leslie Van Houten being released from prison. The segment was originally taped on 5/31/02. Below is a transcript of the interview.


Judith Regan: As the Summer of 1969 began, Sharon Tate, seemed to have the world at Her fingertips. She was a rising film star, and easily one of Hollywood’s great Beauties. She was married to the acclaimed film director, Roman Polanski and she was several months pregnant with the couple’s first child.

But on August 9th of that fateful summer, while hosting a dinner party, she and her unborn child, as well as several others, were brutally murdered in the infamous Helter Skelter killing spree unleashed upon a Los Angeles community by Charles Manson and his followers

The following day Leno and Rosemary Labianca became the Manson family’s next victims. Among those involved in the Labianca slayings was 19 year old Leslie Van Houten. A high school cheerleader and honor student who later admitted to stabbing Mrs. Labianca 14 times.

Leslie Van Houten is currently serving a life sentence in a CA prison, but a state judge could very well change that. Judge Bob Krug will decide within the next 30 days whether Van Houten should be free.

Sound outrageous? My next guest certainly thinks so. And as Sharon Tate’s sister she has a very personal stake in Judge Krug’s decision.

Joining us now from the Fox news bureau in Los Angeles, is Debra Tate. And I’ve asked Fox news Legal analyst Susan Estrich to stay with us to discuss the legal ramifications of this case.

Thank you both for being here.

And we’ll start with you Debra. Take us back to that day.

Debra Tate: It was .. It was so surrealistic. I received a phone call at my Mother’s home. We received a phone call, with the news that there was a fire. And one of the dead was rumored to be Sharon Tate. After getting on the phone and researching it, it took quite some time to get to the bottom of it, I found out that it was not a fire that indeed it was a murder and my sister and my very good friends were all gone

JR: This was a very, very gruesome murder?

DT: Very gruesome.

JR: And you were supposed to be there that night, correct?

DT: Yes I was. I was supposed to go up and pick up a saddle that Sharon had brought back from Europe, and she wasn’t feeling quite up to the company. I was going to be driven by a friend it was an extremely hot and humid night and we decided that it would just be better to postpone it.

JR: And what happened to you and your family in the aftermath of that horrible event?

DT: It was unbelievable. My Mother was not herself for many, many years. My family basically never returned to a normal capacity again.

JR: And your Mother died of cancer? Is that right?

DT: Yes she did

JR:  And your Sister as well?

DT: My little Sister as well.

JR: Leslie Van Houten is currently serving a life sentence, and she’s been up for parole and denied parole, I believe, 13 times, is that correct?

DT: That’s correct.

JR: And what is your position on her current request for parole?

DT: I’m mortified. I cannot believe that the CA judicial system would even consider such a thing. These people were all condemned to death. Through a overturned sentence by the CA Supreme Court it was converted to life in prison, however…

JR: She was originally sentenced to death?

DT: Yes.

JR: And then it was overturned?

DT: Yes, and at that time, the verbiage.. the wording on the law…there was no such thing as life in prison without the possibility of parole so it automatically became with the possibility of parole. Key word here, POSSIBILITY.

JR: And you believe she should stay in prison until she dies?

DT: Absolutely.

JR: Why?

DT: Absolutely. She was handpicked.. this group of people were handpicked, by Charles Manson as the ones most likely to kill and kill in brutal fashion. She knew exactly what had transpired the night before and was basically ….begging to go. She wanted to participate.

JR: OK Susan, Van Houten’s defense claims that the parole officials are prejudiced that she’s been a model prisoner and that given her sentence, given the fact that her sentence was a sentence with the possibility of parole that they should let her out. what do you think of that?

Susan Estrich: Well, there’s two issues, really Judith, the first one is, did the parole board simply rubber stamp the denial or did they actually consider her claim? That’s the first issue. And then the second issue becomes on what basis do you decide parole? Is it simply whether she’s been a good prisoner? And there’s substantial evidence on the record here that she’s been a model prisoner , she earned her bachelors degree, she tutors, she does all kinds of good things in prison.

Or does the fact that this truly was, a grisly bone chilling crime, mean that this woman should stay in prison for life? And so the Judge is required initially, to make the decision as to whether they gave adequate consideration, and secondly, to decide on what standard should govern.

JR: So the Judges really do have discretion in this case?

SE: Well, they do have some discretion. I mean really it’s up to the parole board and the parole board has made absolutely clear that they don’t want to give… let this woman out, or let any of the Manson killers out.

But you have this other question, on what basis should we decide? And so

If she wins in court what she will actually win is not really her freedom, but the right to put the parole board through another hearing, under potentially, a different standard of judgment

JR: And could they then still reject her?

SE: They could still reject her. And all the political forces are lined up against her. Her claim though is, look if this weren’t such a celebrated case, if this were, as it were, a garden variety murder, without the name Manson attached to it, chances are she would have been out of prison years ago. And that’s actually true

JR: Alright, and if you were on the parole board what would your decision be Susan?

SE: I couldn’t let this woman out. You know…I mean, I do think it was particularly grisly and heinous crime and that should count.

JR: Alright, we are sadly out of time. Debra Tate and Susan Estrich, thank you both for being here.

DT: Thank you


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