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Manson Family Member Falls Ill During Parole Hearing

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A parole hearing for former Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis was postponed at the last minute Wednesday after the inmate reported he was feeling ill.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira said Davis showed up for the hearing in San Luis Obispo but said he didn’t feel well.

He was taken to a prison medical clinic in the California Men’s Colony and was examined and sent back, but still complained of illness and parole commissioners said it was necessary to postpone.

“I saw him walking around in the hallway and he looked fine,” Sequeira said. But he said under the circumstances, the parole panel could not go forward with the hearing. A new date was not immediately set.

Davis’ lawyer, Michael Beckman, said he arrived after Davis had been taken away in an ambulance and when he was returned, “He looked deathly pale.”

Beckman said he feared Davis might collapse during the hearing and “I wasn’t going to take a chance.”

Two women who had come to speak out against Davis’ parole were upset at the turn of events.

Former Manson Family member Barbara Hoyt, who has become a crusader against the imprisoned cult members, said she traveled 1,000 miles from the Pacific Northwest and missed her dialysis treatments in order to speak on behalf of the family of stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea who was murdered by the Manson cult 40 years ago.

Debra Tate, the sister of murdered actress Sharon Tate, traveled from Los Angeles to appear on behalf of a cousin of murdered musician Gary Hinman. She said she believes Davis is a dangerous person.

“I will be here for the next one,” she said in a phone interview. “I’m not going away.”

Davis is serving life sentences for the two 1969 slayings, although he was not involved in the infamous murders by Manson followers of actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles.

A parole board determined in 2010 that he was ready for release but then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reversed the decision citing the heinous nature of the crimes.

Wednesday would have been his 27th parole hearing.

Sequeira said this was to be the first time that representatives of the victims were present. No victim families have come to previous hearings.

Beckman said he had planned to object to allowing Hoyt and Tate to speak against Davis since they had no connection to his case.

Sequeira cited Marcy’s Law which allows victim relatives to speak.

“They’re not next of kin,” Beckman said. “That’s not what Marcy’s Law is about, to bring in hired victims’ rights advocates.”

Nevertheless, he said Davis was not put off by their presence.

“I told him they were here and he wanted to go ahead. But I couldn’t take the chance. “

Beckman has portrayed Davis as a model prisoner who earned a master’s degree in religion and a doctorate in philosophy of religion, became a born-again Christian in prison and ministered to other inmates. He also married a woman he met through the prison ministry and has a grown daughter. They were divorced recently.

But the Los Angeles prosecutor who has argued repeatedly to keep all Manson Family members behind bars has said that Davis, who has been in prison for 40 years, still isn’t ready for release.

“We feel he is not fully rehabilitated,” Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira said. “He has not shown true remorse or understanding of his crime.”

Davis long maintained that he was just a bystander in the killings of Shea and Hinman. But at his last parole hearing in 2010, he acknowledged: “I was as responsible as everyone there.”

Should a new parole panel grant Davis a release date, the decision would be just the first step in a process that also requires approval by Gov. Jerry Brown and other parole board members.

The only other Manson family member convicted of murder to be paroled was Steve Grogan. He was released in 1985 after leading authorities to the site where Shea’s body was buried.

Manson follower Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme was released from federal prison in 2009 after serving time for the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford.

Manson and two of his followers, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, remain in prison for life in the Tate killings. Their co-defendant, Susan Atkins, died in prison in 2009. Another Manson follower, Robert Beausoleil also is imprisoned for the Hinman killing.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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