Manson Family Member Approved For Parole

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A member of the Manson “family” has been recommended for parole after spending almost four decades behind bars.

Bruce Davis, 67, was convicted of two murders in the early 70s, and has been in prison since 1972. Now a two-member panel of the Board of Parole Hearings will recommend that he be set free, and the decision will go to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk.

Davis was convicted on murder charges for his role in the killing spree which took the lives of two men, musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea. Although Davis did not kill either of the men—in fact, he refused an order given to him by Manson to chop off Shea’s head—he did slash Shea on the shoulder and drove the car to the home in Topanga Canyon, outside of Los Angeles, where Hinman was killed. Davis was also on the scene when Shea was killed, at a communal home near the San Fernando Valley where the cult members lived.

Davis was not involved in the killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate, or in the six other slayings committed by other members of the Manson family.

During his time in prison, Davis became a born-again Christian and earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy of religion. He also married a woman whom he met through a prison ministry group, and the two have a grown daughter.

The only other paroled Manson family member, Steve Grogan, was released in 1985 after helping investigators find Shea’s burial site. Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, another Manson follower who attempted an assassination on President Gerald Ford, was released from prison after serving time. Charles Manson and two other followers, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, remain in prison for the Tate killings. A third cult member involved in those killings, Susan Atkins, died last year, shortly after being denied parole.

Davis had been denied parole 23 times in a row, because he refused to acknowledge the full extent of his participation in the crimes. During the most recent parole hearing, however, Davis said he knows now that he helped encourage others to commit the murders.

“I was responsible as everyone there,” he told the board members.

Prosecutors in Los Angeles county could petition the governor to reject the parole, if he deems it a threat to public safety, but it is unclear whether this petition will be filed or if Davis will be allowed to go free. If he is paroled, he plans to live with his family in Grover Beach and work at a landscaping job.

 

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