Manson Family killer granted parole for fourth time, but release not assured

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 27, 2015 7:52 PM

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - Bruce Davis, an associate of 1960s mass murderer Charles Manson, was granted parole on Thursday for the fourth time, although previous such decisions have all been reversed.

Davis, 72, was issued a grant of parole for his life sentence for murder and conspiracy, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, reversed Davis' first grant of parole in 2010, and the state's current governor, Jerry Brown, a Democrat, reversed the next two.

Corrections officials now have 120 days to review the finding by the Board of Parole Hearings that Davis is suitable for parole. If at that point, the grant of parole is finalized, Brown will have 30 days to reverse, modify, uphold or take no action on the decision.

Brown, who concluded that Davis remained a danger to society after parole grants in 2013 and 2014, has not yet said what he would do.

Davis was convicted in the murders of music teacher Gary Hinman, who was stabbed to death in July 1969, and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea, who was killed the following month.

That year, Manson's "family" of followers, most of them young women, burst into public consciousness with a series of grisly murders committed at his behest in what prosecutors said was an attempt to spark a race war.

Among the victims was actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski. She was stabbed 16 times by members of the cult in the early morning hours of Aug. 9, 1969.

Four other people were also stabbed or shot to death at Tate's home by the Manson followers, who scrawled the word "Pig" in blood on the front door before leaving.

The following night, Manson's group stabbed Leno and Rosemary LaBianca to death, using their blood to write "Rise," "Death to Pigs" and "Healter Skelter" - a misspelled reference to the Beatles song "Helter Skelter" - on the walls and refrigerator door.

Davis did not take part in the Tate and LaBianca murders.

Manson, 80, remains incarcerated at California State Prison, Corcoran. He has repeatedly been denied bail.

Another follower, Steve Grogan, who was also convicted in Shea's murder, was released in the mid-1980s.

Davis' appearance before the state parole board was his 30th, officials said. He was initially sent to prison in 1972.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)