Crime & Justice

Parole recommended for Manson follower Bruce Davis, but Gov. Brown can block it

This Dec. 22, 1970 file photo shows two members of the Charles Manson family, Bruce Davis, left, and Steve Grogan, leaving court after a hearing on the appointment of attorneys to represent them in Los Angeles.
This Dec. 22, 1970 file photo shows two members of the Charles Manson family, Bruce Davis, left, and Steve Grogan, leaving court after a hearing on the appointment of attorneys to represent them in Los Angeles.
Harold Filan
This Dec. 22, 1970 file photo shows two members of the Charles Manson family, Bruce Davis, left, and Steve Grogan, leaving court after a hearing on the appointment of attorneys to represent them in Los Angeles.
FILE - This undated file photo provided by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shows Bruce Davis.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/AP


After 43 years in prison and 30 parole hearings, parole officials on Thursday again decided it is safe to free Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis — but Gov. Jerry Brown can block it, and has twice before.

They recommended that Davis be paroled in the 1969 slayings of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea.

It's the fourth time for such a recommendation, but the 72-year-old Davis remains imprisoned at California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo.

The previous three such recommendations by the Board of Parole Hearings were blocked, once by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and twice by Brown.

Brown most recently rejected Davis' parole a year ago, saying he remains dangerous despite his age. It will be about five months before Brown decides on Thursday's recommendation.

"I am pleased that the board again followed the law and did the right thing, and I am hopeful that the governor will do likewise," Davis' attorney, Michael Beckman, said by telephone after the hearing.

Davis was not involved in the notorious killings of actress Sharon Tate and six others, but Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John Morris said the lesser-known slayings are plenty to keep him behind bars.

"The heinousness of the crimes held Southern California in the grip of fear for months," said Morris, who heads the district attorney's parole division and drove to San Luis Obispo to oppose Davis' parole. "The reason for the crimes was to incite the race war of Helter Skelter."

Manson interpreted the Beatles song to symbolize an Armageddon-like war between whites and blacks. He convinced some of his followers that the killings would help spark the war and benefit his "family" of disciples.

Since his conviction, Davis has become a born-again Christian who earned a doctoral degree in philosophy of religion and ministers to other inmates.

He is serving a life sentence for two counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder and robbery.