Van Houten takes 1st step

CHINO, Calif. (AP) — Getting the approval of a parole panel was the easy part for Leslie Van Houten, the youngest of Charles Manson’s murderous followers.

Between her and her release stands a governor who has shown zero willingness to allow anyone involved in the Manson killings to go free. Van Houten, now 68, was found suitable for parole by the two-person state panel after a hearing on Wednesday. Now, she must still be approved by the state Parole Board, which is likely, but then must hope Gov. Jerry Brown won’t block her release as he did last year. In blocking her release then, as he has with several would-be parolees from the Manson “family,” Brown said Van Houten had failed to adequately explain how a model teenager could have turned into a ruthless killer by age 19.