Saturday, August 9
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown reversed a parole board and denied on Friday the release of a former Charles Manson follower who served more than 43 years in prison.
It was the third time a California governor denied the release of Bruce Davis, 71, a member of the murderous Manson Family who was convicted in the 1969 slayings of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea.
In March, the parole board once again found that he was suitable for parole based on his age, conduct in prison — he became a born-again Christian in prison, earned a doctoral degree in philosophy of religion, ministers to other inmates — and other factors.
Brown lauded Davis for his efforts to improve himself. However, he wrote in his five-page decision that the evidence shows Davis "currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison."
Davis' attorney, Michael Beckman, called the governor's decision "horrible" and vowed to keep fighting until Davis is released from prison.
Davis long maintained that he was a bystander in the killings, but in recent years he has acknowledged his shared responsibility.
Brown said his refusal to grant parole to Davis last year was based on the gravity of his offenses as well his refusal to fully accept responsibility for his role in the murders. He wrote in Friday's decision that Davis continues to paint himself as a passive bystander and noted comments he made to a psychologist in 2013.
"I was a dependent person. I needed attention and approval. I wasn't my own person. I wanted sex, drugs and rock 'n roll," Davis said.
He later added: "I wasn't looking out for my best interests; I was led by fools, bigger fools than myself."
Brown said he had asked Davis to reconcile his version of being a follower with the evidence that he was "a leader who actively championed the Family's values."
"He did not address these concerns at his most recent parole hearing," the decision said.
Davis was not involved in the notorious killings of actress Sharon Tate and six others, making him a more likely candidate for parole than many of the better-known Manson family members.
Manson and three of his followers, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles "Tex" Watson, remain in prison for life in the Tate killings. Their co-defendant, Susan Atkins, died of cancer behind bars in 2009.
A spokesman for the Board of Parole Hearing said that by law, Davis will get another chance to go before the board sometime between March and September next year.
A parole board determined in 2010 that Davis was ready for release, but then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reversed the decision.