Former Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis has been "found suitable for parole" on Wednesday, his 31st appearance before the parole board.
"Inmate Bruce Davis was found suitable for parole today at his parole suitability hearing at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo," California Dept. of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman Luis Patino confirmed in an emailed statement.
Davis was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea in August 1969 and conspiracy to commit murder and robbery. He began his sentence in 1972.
He was not involved in the most infamous murders that the group of followers, known as the Manson Family, committed -- the murder of Roman Polanski's actress wife, Sharon Tate, along with four other people at the director's home. Davis' parole decision will now go to the Board of Parole Hearings before being sent to California Governor Jerry Brown, who has 30 days to uphold, reverse or modify the decision, according to the statement.
Well, here we go again. Does he get the Jerry Brown endorsement once again, or is he walking away free? You all know my point of view, don't care who was murdered or where, keep them locked up. Stay tuned...
Feb. 1 – For the fifth time in seven years, a California parole board has found Bruce Davis suitable for release. The decision was made earlier today, at Davis’ 31st parole hearing, held at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo.
The parole board’s decision will undergo a 120-day review, after which Governor Jerry Brown will have 30 days to reverse, modify, affirm or decline to review the decision.
Davis, 74, serving a life term for his role in the 1969 murders of Gary Hinman and Donald “Shorty” Shea, has been recommended for parole in four consecutive hearings, but has seen all four of those recommendations reversed by the Governor’s office during the executive review process.
Davis turned himself in outside of the Hall of Justice on December 7, 1970, after evading capture for nearly a year. Davis’ trial began in late 1971 and lasted four months. On March 14, 1972, Davis was convicting on two counts of First Degree Murder and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Murder and Robbery. Judge Raymond Choate sentenced Davis to a life term the following month.
“These were vicious murders indicating a depraved state of mind on the part of the defendant,” said Choate during sentencing. “I don’t want to give the impression that he was at all a dupe or the foil of Charles Manson. Davis is much older than most of the youngsters that were led by Manson. He is more intelligent and educated and more capable of independent reasoning. For reasons only known to him, he did exercise that reasoning.”
Davis has only two rules infractions in over four decades of incarceration, the last one occurring over 37 years ago. He received a write-up in 1975 for sharpening a spoon and one for conduct in 1980. Davis has received a Master’s degree from Borean School of the Bible and a Doctorate degree in philosophy and religion from Bethany Seminary, graduating summa cum laude. While incarcerated Davis has married and fathered a child. His marriage has since ended in divorce.
“Bruce is the single most rehabilitated inmate I’ve represented in the California prison system,” wrote attorney Michael Beckman, who has represented Davis since 2000.
After receiving 23 consecutive one-year denials, Bruce Davis was recommended for parole for the first time on January 28, 2010. The decision, however, was reversed in June of 2012 by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wrote, “I believe his release would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society at this time.”
In preparation for Davis’ 2012 hearing, the first hearing since Davis’ initial recommendation, the District Attorney’s office did two things. Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira actively sought out next-of-kin from the Hinman and Shea families, who thus far had never attended any of Davis’ hearings. Sequeira wanted to notify the families of the upcoming hearing, perhaps hopeful they would provide impact statements to appeal to the board. Sequeira also began pressing to acquire the 1969 tape-recorded statements made by Charles “Tex” Watson with his Texas attorney, Bill Boyd. Publicly, the Los Angeles Police Department sought the recordings for possible clues for unsolved crimes. But within the District Attorney’s office, where efforts to acquire the tapes had originated, Sequeira was hopeful that the tapes could provide material for him to use at Davis’ upcoming parole hearing.
Sequeira was unable to get the tapes in time for the hearing, but managed to secure statements from relatives of Gary Hinman and Donald Shea. Kay Martley, Gary Hinman’s cousin and Phyllis Shea Murphy, Donald Shea’s first wife, submitted impact statements. Neither Martley nor Murphy attended the hearing, but their statements were read to the parole board by Sharon Tate’s sister, Debra Tate and former Manson family member, Barbara Hoyt.
Despite their efforts, Davis was recommended for parole for the second time. After the decision passed its initial review, newly appointed District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, pleaded with California Governor Jerry Brown to reverse the decision.
“Davis has been diagnosed with narcissistic and antisocial personality traits. He consistently blames everyone but himself for his criminal and antisocial behavior,” wrote Lacey. “It is evident that Davis lacks insight, genuine remorse and understanding of the gravity of his crimes.”
On March 1, 2013, Governor Brown reversed the parole board’s decision stating Davis was still unsuitable for release into society because of the heinous nature of the crimes. Brown’s reversal highlighted areas where, over the years, he felt Davis had minimized his role in both the Manson family and their crimes. The governor also questioned how truthful Davis had been, stating as an example, that Davis hadn’t mentioned Larry Jones being present during the Shea murder until his 2010 parole hearing.
“Davis’s choice to withhold information regarding the crimes and the identity of a potential crime partner indicates to me that his commitment to the Manson Family still exceeds his commitment to the community,” wrote Brown.
Davis came up for parole again in March of 2014 and this time Kay Martley attended the hearing in person. It was the first time a family member of one of Davis’ victims had attended one of his hearings. The board commended Davis on his institutional programming and once again found him suitable. Five months later, on the weekend of the 45th anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders, Governor Brown once again reversed Davis’ parole grant.
“I asked Davis to explain why he has shielded other Family members from prosecution by withholding information about these crimes, and to finally reveal what he knows,” Brown wrote in his reversal decision. “I asked him to reconcile his version of being a follower with the evidence that he was a leader who actively championed the Family’s values. He did not address these concerns at his most recent parole hearing. For the same reasons I articulated last year, I find that Davis is not suitable for parole.”
Davis came before the board again in August of 2015 and for the second consecutive hearing, so did Kay Martley. “Although it has been 46 years since Gary was murdered, the passing of time has not diminished the impact of this horrendous crime and our family continues to serve a life sentence of heartbreak, grief, and loss,” Martley told the board. “I’m here today to respectfully ask the Board to require Mr. Davis to serve a sentence that is no less than the one my family is now serving, a term of life.”
Despite this plea, the parole board found Davis suitable for release and again his fate went onto the Governor’s desk where months later the decision was overturned.
“The horror of the murders committed by the Manson family in 1969 and the fear they instilled in the public will never be forgotten,” wrote Brown when reversing Davis’ parole recommendation in January of 2016. “I have reversed grants of parole to Davis twice before, not only because of his atrocious crimes, but also because he minimized the nature and extent of his responsibility for these murders and his role in the Manson family.”
The District Attorney’s office view Davis as an unreasonable risk to society while Beckman sees him as a reformed man that has become a political prisoner because of his link to Manson. There’s little reason to believe anything will be different this time around.
It’s been nearly four years since the District Attorney’s office took possession of the Tex Watson tapes. Despite their eagerness to get them to use at parole hearings, to date, they never have. “If they contained anything negative about Bruce,” wrote Beckman, “you can be certain the DA would have trotted it in as soon as the tapes became available.”
Governor Brown will have until August 30th to weigh in on the decision.
It's ridiculous. I blame the state. They should have said life without parole or life and parole every 7 - 10 years. The only ones winning are lawyers grabbing a tax issued pay check.
True, but I think that, at the time, they didn't have life without parole as a possible sentence. Pappy would probably know.
When you adopt a pet, you not only save a life....you make a friend for life. The more you adopt, the more friends you'll have! Don't adopt more than you can care for! (If you can't adopt, please consider being a foster parent for pets! Or volunteer at your local shelter)
swennync: 51 years ago today.
Aug 9, 2020 3:53:04 GMT -5
Christine: Welcome to all our newmbers. Hope to talk with you all soon.
Aug 23, 2020 13:05:13 GMT -5
coldwater: Somehow, I didn’t know this shoutbox scrolled back (!) and l now see a couple of messages. PaulHart: I sent you a private message last month; hope you got it. Maudes: For 3 wks I had the 210 to Pas to myself—8 min drive!
Aug 23, 2020 16:37:48 GMT -5
swennync: Coldwater- I grew up in Arcadia.......
Aug 24, 2020 4:37:51 GMT -5
Pappy: Swenny, I am challenging your “grew up” claim. Lived there, sure. Grew up, ehhh... 😁
Aug 24, 2020 11:06:16 GMT -5
coldwater: Aw, Swenny, my dear—that now makes perfect sense dude!
Aug 26, 2020 3:44:41 GMT -5
coldwater: paulhart — I have left you a recent, more detailed PM.
Aug 27, 2020 20:37:15 GMT -5
swennync: Pappy- They say the first 60 years of childhood are the hardest.
Sept 4, 2020 17:01:05 GMT -5
Pappy: Don’t I know it, and that is why I have refused to ever grow up....
Sept 5, 2020 10:29:26 GMT -5
starviego: RIP Irving Kanarek, who died Sept 2, 2020, at age 100.
Sept 5, 2020 11:49:02 GMT -5
vickie: Greetings to everyone. I hope our California friends are safe. Take care everyone.
Sept 6, 2020 20:30:39 GMT -5
ediesleftshoe30: Hi Vickie and all: I am from CA and it is absolutley apocolyptic looking outside.
Sept 13, 2020 12:29:39 GMT -5
coldwater: Yes, ediesleftshoe30, apt description. Eyes non-stop watering, amongst other maladies, but I am so upset about the kids who have perished—needlessly. As well, of course, all whom have died, that I’d gladly trade my momentary discomfort for, well, you know.
Sept 13, 2020 15:29:58 GMT -5
coldwater: The sun attempted to break thru the smoke and marine layer earlier; that was startling. I’d like to know how Our Counselor is faring? Maudes as well. Although I think they’re both out of the zones, many of us have family spread out.
Sept 13, 2020 15:42:51 GMT -5
Pappy: We saw the Sun yesterday for about 2 hours, and then smoked overwhelmed the valley again. The air is pretty bad, unhealthy for most people. The fire in our area continues to burn, over 200,00 acres gone.
Sept 14, 2020 8:34:55 GMT -5
valleygirl: Been seeing images on the television news about your fires, stay safe all you guys.
Sept 17, 2020 14:26:22 GMT -5
sophiesperspective: Happy release day to Cutting to the Truth!
Sept 22, 2020 7:39:36 GMT -5
coldwater: Thanks for checking in Counselor. I’m sorry about all of the dreadful damage to nature, forestry, and the animals. Please take care.
Sept 24, 2020 17:03:17 GMT -5
coldwater: Thanks also to Vickie and valleygirl for the kind thoughts to those of us in California 💜
Sept 26, 2020 0:45:38 GMT -5
sophiesperspective: Happy birthday to Jay Sebring! He would've been 87. Prayers for the Kummer family today <3
Oct 10, 2020 9:47:57 GMT -5