Gov. Gavin Newsom Friday rejected parole for Bruce Davis, a one-time Manson Family follower who was convicted of two killings in 1969.
A state parole board panel had recommended parole for the 78-year-old inmate in January, but the governor found that Davis “currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison at this time.”
Davis 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.
He 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.
The governor acknowledged 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. “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 has been found suitable for parole six previous times, with three governors, including Newsom, reversing the recommendation for parole.
Newsom had blocked Davis’ release in November 2019. Former Govs. Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger have 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, 71; Patricia Krenwinkel, 73; and Charles “Tex” Watson, 75.
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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