Parole Denied for Former Manson Family Follower Bruce Davis

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A state parole board panel denied parole Friday for Bruce Davis, a one-time Manson Family follower who was convicted of two killings in 1969.

The hearing marked the 34th time before a parole board panel for the 79-year-old inmate who was convicted in 1972 of first-degree murder and conspiracy for the July 25, 1969, stabbing death of musician Gary Hinman in his Topanga Canyon home and the killing of Donald "Shorty" Shea, who was last seen alive on Aug. 27, 1969.

Davis -- who is eligible for another parole suitability hearing in three years -- was not involved with other followers of Manson in the Aug. 9, 1969, murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in a rented Benedict Canyon home, or the stabbing deaths of grocery store owner Leno La Bianca and his wife, Rosemary, a day later in their Los Feliz home.

In January 2021, a state parole board recommended parole for Davis. But Gov. Gavin Newsom rejected parole in June 2021, writing then that Davis "currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at ths time."

The governor acknowledged then that Davis has "made efforts to improve himself over the last 50 years," earned several educational degrees while behind bars and engaged in significant self-help programming, but wrote that those factors are "outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate he remains unsuitable for parole at this time."

"Mr. Davis joined one of the most notorious cults in American history and actively aided in furthering Charles Manson's goal of triggering an apocalyptic war arising from racial tensions and with the goal of creating societal disorder," the governor wrote in the June 2021 parole denial. "The crimes that the Manson Family committed to achieve this goal are among the most disturbing reported in our state's history. The Family robbed, tortured and killed at Charles Manson's behest and Mr. Davis knowingly participated in two of these murders."

The governor wrote that Davis "continues to minimize his involvement in the Hinman and Shea murders and lacks insight into how he came to follow Mr. Manson and commit such extreme acts of violence," and that he "cannot be safely released" until he can "demonstrate deeper insight into his involvement in these crimes and take full responsibility for his part in one of the darkest points of California's history."

Davis, who is serving a life prison sentence with the possibility of parole, had been found suitable for parole six previous times. Three governors, including Newsom, have reversed the recommendations for him to be paroled.

Newsom had blocked Davis' release in November 2019. Former governors Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger also reversed the decision to parole Davis.

Steve Grogan, who was convicted in Shea's murder and helped lead authorities to the site where the victim was buried, was the first former Manson follower to be paroled from prison, in 1985.

Manson, who died in 2017, was repeatedly denied parole, as have most of his co-defendants.

Also still in prison are one-time Manson acolytes Leslie Van Houten, 72; Patricia Krenwinkel, 74; and Charles "Tex" Watson, 76.

In March, the governor reversed a parole board panel's November 2021 recommendation of parole for Van Houten, and a parole board panel's May 26 recommendation of parole for Krenwinkel is still pending. Watson was denied parole last October.

Onetime Manson family member Susan Atkins died in September 2009, about three weeks after a state parole board panel rejected her plea for a "compassionate release" from prison because of brain cancer.

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