Sacramento — A state panel recommended paroling a former follower of cult leader Charles Manson after California governors blocked four previous recommendations for his release.
It was the 31st parole hearing for 74-year-old Bruce Davis and now Gov. Jerry Brown will have the final say on whether he is released.
Davis, 74, is serving a life sentence at the California Men’s Colony at San Luis Obispo for the 1969 slayings of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea.
He was not involved in the more notorious killings of actress Sharon Tate and six others by the Manson “family.”
Davis testified at his 2014 hearing that he attacked Shea with a knife and held a gun on Hinman while Manson cut Hinman’s face with a sword.
“I wanted to be Charlie’s favorite guy,” he said then.
Nearly a half-century after the slayings, parole panels have decided four times that Davis is no longer a public safety risk. The officials cited his age and good behavior behind bars that includes earning a doctoral degree and ministering to other inmates.
Brown rejected the most recent recommendation last year. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also concluded in rejecting another recommendation that Davis remains too dangerous to be free.
“Hopefully we’ll get five in a row, but it really doesn’t mean much unless the governor lets him go and I see no reason to think he’s going to change his mind,” said attorney Michael Beckman, who has been fighting for years for the release of Davis.
Beckman said Davis is the most rehabilitated prisoner among the 2,000 he is representing in the penal system. “There’s no one even a close second,” he said.
Gary Hinman’s cousin, Kay Martley, said Davis’ crime was so heinous that he should die in prison.
Hinman was tortured for three days, she recounted in remarks prepared for the parole hearing.
“This wasn’t a crime of passion or impulse; this was slow, calculated and cold-blooded,” she wrote.
Davis was convicted with Manson and another follower, Steve Grogan, in the two slayings. Grogan was paroled in 1985 after he led police to Shea’s buried body. Robert Beausoleil, convicted in Hinman’s death, remains in prison.
Manson and followers Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles “Tex” Watson are imprisoned for the Tate killings. Their co-defendant, Susan Atkins, died of cancer behind bars in 2009.
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