For the second time in just more than three years, a California governor has reversed a parole board’s recommendation to release Bruce Davis, a member of the notorious Manson “Family,” from the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo.
Davis, 70, originally convicted for his roles in two Charles Manson-related murders in 1972, has been serving his time at CMC since 1980. He was recommended for release at an October 2012 parole board hearing. But on March 1, Gov. Jerry Brown reversed the decision, citing Davis’ history of minimizing his involvement in the crimes.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did the same in 2010.
Though Davis didn’t play a role in the infamous Tate-LaBianca murders, he was involved in the lesser-known murders of aspiring musician Gary Hinman and ranch hand Donald “Shorty” Shea. Though he was present, Davis has historically contended that he didn’t physically take part in the deeds, though he’s admitted to slashing Shea’s shoulder superficially after he believed Shea was already dead, as an act of solidarity with Manson.
Prosecutors alleged in court that Davis helped behead and dismember Shea’s body before helping bury it.
“As our Supreme Court has acknowledged, in rare circumstances, a murder is so heinous that it provides evidence of current dangerousness by itself,” Brown wrote in his decision. “This is such a case.”
Brown argued that Davis continues to deny that he took place in the planning of the Shea and Hinman murders.
“Until Davis can acknowledge and explain why he actively championed the Family’s interests, and shed more light on the nature of his involvement, I am not prepared to release him,” Brown wrote.
Davis’ Los Angeles-based attorney, Michael Beckman, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment as to whether Davis planned to appeal the decision. Beckman told New Times in February 2010 that Davis was “not a hardcore member” of Manson’s group; he was in it for the sex and drugs, and saw Manson as something of a father figure.
Davis has been denied parole 27 times, and many of his supporters allege he remains incarcerated solely because of the Manson name attached to his crimes. He could be before the parole board again as soon as October.