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Parole Board Again Recommends Release For Manson Follower Bruce Davis

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The state parole board on Wednesday recommended release for former Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis.

The recommendation doesn’t mean Davis, now 71, will automatically win his freedom. The recommendation is subject to a 120-day review period, along with a possible review by the governor

Davis has been twice previously recommended for parole — but rejected both times, once by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in June 2010 and by Gov. Jerry Brown last March.

Davis was convicted of first-degree murder and conspiracy for the July 25, 1969, stabbing death of musician Gary Hinman in his Topanga Canyon home and the killing of Donald “Shorty” Shea, who was last seen alive on Aug. 27, 1969.

On March 1, 2013, Brown reversed the parole board’s October 2012 recommendation of parole, finding that Davis “poses a danger to society if released from prison.”

In a six-page document, the governor wrote, “As our Supreme Court has acknowledged, in rare circumstances, a murder is so heinous that it provides evidence of current dangerousness by itself. This is such a case.”

Brown also said last year that “Davis played a central role in these murders.”

“He was a part of the (Manson) Family’s discussions to rob and kill Mr. Hinman,” Brown wrote, noting that Davis “now admits that he pointed the gun at Mr. Hinman while Manson mutilated Mr. Hinman’s face.”

“… He was also a part of the Family’s discussions to kill Mr. Shea. Davis and the others surrounded and viciously attacked Mr. Shea. Davis now states he sliced Mr. Shea from his armpit to his collarbone while his crime partners repeatedly stabbed and clubbed Mr. Shea. He later bragged about how Mr. Shea’s body had been dismembered and decapitated,” the governor wrote.

Davis had previously stated that he made a “token cut” to an already-dead Shea under pressure from Manson, according to the governor’s decision.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office had no immediate comment on the latest recommendation of parole.

In a letter to the governor following the October 2012 recommendation, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said she opposed parole for Davis. The county’s top prosecutor wrote in her January 2013 letter to Brown that Davis “consistently blames everyone but himself for his criminal and antisocial behavior” and that he “blames his father for his upbringing and Manson for influencing him to commit the murders.”

The county’s top prosecutor wrote that “it is evident that Davis lacks insight, genuine remorse and understanding of the gravity of his crimes.”

Davis was not involved with other followers of Manson in the Aug. 9, 1969, murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in a rented Benedict Canyon home, or the stabbing deaths of grocery store owner Leno La Bianca and his wife, Rosemary, a day later in their Los Feliz home.

Steve Grogan, who was convicted in Shea’s murder and helped lead authorities to the site where the victim was buried, was the first former Manson follower to be paroled from prison in 1985.

Manson and most of his co-defendants have repeatedly been denied parole.

Onetime Manson Family member Susan Atkins died in September 2009, about three weeks after a state parole board panel rejected her plea for a “compassionate release” from prison because she had terminal brain cancer.

Wednesday evening, Crystal Cruz spoke to Sharon Tate’s sister, Debra, who was at the hearing.

She told Cruz by phone she was sick to her stomach. Tate’s sister called Davis a sociopath and a psychopath. She doesn’t believe he is a changed man.

 (©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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