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Ex-Manson follower gets parole, but hurdles loom

Charles Manson

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) -- A California board once again approved parole Wednesday for former Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis, but before he's released he'll have to get past Gov. Jerry Brown - who chose to keep him in prison under the same circumstances just last year.

Davis, 71, made his 28th appearance before a Department of Corrections Board of Parole Hearings at the California Men's Colony near San Luis Obispo.

He has been in prison for nearly 43 years, sentenced with Manson and others for the 1969 murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman ranch hand Donald "Shorty" Shea. He long maintained that he was a bystander in the killings, but in recent years he has acknowledged his shared responsibility.

Davis was granted parole by the same board in 2012, but Brown rejected it last March, saying he was convinced Davis still hadn't revealed all he knew about the Manson Family.

Brown said in his written decision that after four decades "it is encouraging that Davis is beginning to reveal the actual details of what happened. But it is clear that he continues to withhold information about these events."

"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 said.

And just three years before Brown's rejection, Davis got the same treatment from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who refused his release on parole in 2010.

Wednesday's decision now triggers a 120-day review period for the board. The governor then has 30 days to approve, reverse, change or decline to review the decision.

Governor's spokesman Jim Evans said in an email Wednesday that he could not comment beyond the information released by the Department of Corrections.

Davis' attorney, Michael Beckman, said last year that Davis was the most rehabilitated of the hundreds of parole candidates he's represented, calling the governor's decision "horrible" and contrary to the findings of parole commissioners who found him eminently suitable. He said Davis has told everything he knows.

Davis was not involved in the notorious slayings of Sharon Tate and six others, making him a more likely candidate for parole than many of the better-known Manson family members.

He became a born-again Christian in prison, earned a master's degree and a doctorate in philosophy of religion and ministered to other inmates.

He married a woman he met through the prison ministry, and has a grown daughter. The couple recently divorced.

Davis would be only the second Manson-related murder defendant to be granted parole since the killing spree began in 1969.

Manson and three of his followers, Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles "Tex" Watson, remain in prison for life in the Tate killings. Their co-defendant, Susan Atkins, died of cancer behind bars in 2009.

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

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moonfloat March 13 2014 at 11:49 AM

He needs to stay right where he is - behind bars! And it makes my blood boil when I read/see about these murderers who "found God" in prison, and get their educational degrees, etc., while there are kids in the free world who want desperately to go to college, but don't have the funding. Who pays for these inmates to get all these degrees?? What the hell else do they have to do after so many years? They've figured out that claiming to be "born again" is about the only way to lie their ways out of responsibility for the horrors they committed against others in order to scam the system into letting them go free. Whether he actually took one of those lives or not, he was an accomplice and is just as guilty and the others, imho.

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Ministry Man March 13 2014 at 10:51 AM

Forgive Bruce Davis? Yes, you are forgiven. But you haven't finished paying your debt to society. You were involved in the murders of two innocent human beings…..maybe more. Personally, I am bewildered that we spent, what, millions dollars to feed you, house you and to allow you a free education toward your masters and doctorate when the money could have been spent on our innocent children's education. You take someone's life, you lose all your rights. Maybe the families of the people you killed should decided what kind of education you should receive.

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willie March 13 2014 at 10:34 AM

let him rot there forever.

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1 reply
Nana & Popie willie March 13 2014 at 10:36 AM

No kidding!!!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
ecamp79228 March 13 2014 at 10:33 AM

Dont let him go free!!..Yes,I'm happy he found God but he has killed but needs to be in jail and maybe if he really loves God need knows he needs to pay for his sins on earth but help others to find God in jail if he really loves God and God is caring more then men!!!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
philatps March 13 2014 at 10:30 AM

None of these cold blooded murderers should ever get out of prison, anyone who would associate with the likes of C. Manson should be caged till they die.

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1 reply
TAMI philatps March 13 2014 at 10:50 AM

None of them should even be up for parole. They deserved what they gave their victims. DEATH.

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Walter Seltzer March 13 2014 at 10:27 AM

A sentence of life in prison should mean that the person should only leave prison in a body bag or coffin

Flag Reply +10 rate up
pucpaul March 13 2014 at 10:23 AM

If he's really "found God", then he should already be free, in his mind. Therefore not needing release.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
cgssnavickas March 13 2014 at 10:22 AM

Let's face it, he will NEVER reveal everything he knows.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
pucpaul March 13 2014 at 10:21 AM

He's had his hands in at least one other murder in England. This dirtbag should never be released.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
ajafullmn March 13 2014 at 10:19 AM

Born again Christians. The prisons are full of them because that, apparantly, is where Jesus lives.

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1 reply
outofmyhands2 ajafullmn March 13 2014 at 10:53 AM

About a third of the Bible is written by men who either murdered, attempted murder, or were involved in plots to murder. Thus, we can see what true repentance really is. BTW, the culprits include Moses, King David, Apostle Peter, and the Apostle Paul. When you look at the lives of those four individuals, you can clearly see these men turned their lives over completely to GOD and there was definitely a change in their lives.

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