Parole denied for 22nd time for Manson associate

Associated Press/April 8, 2004

San Luis Obispo, Calif. -- A state panel denied parole Thursday to a former Manson family member convicted of murdering two men.

Bruce Davis, an inmate at the California Men's Colony, was seeking his release for the 22nd time.

"The board did find Mr. Davis unsuitable for parole," said Board of Prison Terms spokesman Bill Sessa. He said the two-person panel praised Davis' conduct in prison, but cited "the violent and brutal nature of the murders" in denying parole.

Davis, 62, will be eligible for another parole hearing next year, Sessa said.

He was convicted in the slayings of ranch hand and aspiring actor Donald "Shorty" Shea and musician Gary Hinman, who were killed before the Charles Manson cult carried out its infamous murder spree of August 9-10, 1969.

On the first night, Manson followers killed five people at a Hollywood Hills home. Among them was actress Sharon Tate, who was 81/2 months pregnant. The following night, Rosemary and Leno LaBianca were killed in their Los Feliz home.

Davis previously told the board Shea was killed because he threatened to expose the Manson group's illegal activities. His remains were found in 1979 after another Manson member told authorities where to look.

Hinman, a 33-year-old music teacher, was reportedly killed after refusing to join the cult.

Davis converted to Christianity in 1974 and said at Thursday's two-hour hearing he had been offered a job as a minister in the San Luis Obispo area upon his release.

He has earned a doctorate in religion and master's degree in theology while in prison, and has served as a peer counselor and teacher in Bible classes. He has had no disciplinary problems since 1980, Sessa said.

But in interviews with psychologists, Sessa said, Davis "has not really said much about remorse or feelings for the victims or families of the victims."

Davis told the panel he has been married for more than a decade and has a daughter.

"I have no defense for what I did," he said. "I stood by and let them lose their lives. But I have hope for life beyond this place."

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