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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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kimcrdr March 13 2014 at 12:30 PM

He became a born-again Christian in prison.................of course he did...dont they all!!! He should NEVER be released, as a matter of fact they all should have gotten the death penalty, you take a life you should give your life!!!

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1 reply
Ray kimcrdr March 13 2014 at 12:53 PM

EXACTLY!!!

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saultydog42 March 13 2014 at 11:52 AM

A perfect example of why the death penalty should be used. These people dont deserve the air they breath.

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1 reply
goldie841 saultydog42 August 08 2014 at 7:19 PM

amen,saltydog

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elvamae1944 March 13 2014 at 7:32 AM

keep him in jail he is a minister in prison............thats were he should stay in prison

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1 reply
elvamae1944 elvamae1944 March 13 2014 at 7:34 AM

how about absolute death ... thats what he needs

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knarfdr March 13 2014 at 11:51 AM

He committed two murders. The victims lost their lives and so should this worthless piece of human debris. Don't buy the religious ploy, it's just a way to try to gain freedom. The victims and their families will never be free of the sorrow of this loss and neither should this killer. Brown, do the right thing again and again and again.

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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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marilyneb7900 March 13 2014 at 7:37 AM

He ministers to other inmates. Sounds like a good use of his education. He married, had a family, got an advanced degree...that doesn't sound like too bad of a life if you ask me. Born again Christian? That is wonderful...then he really deosn't need to be on the outside as his life can bless other's where he resides now.

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CHUCKIE March 13 2014 at 11:48 AM

They always seem to find religion in a cell. Nothing but a bunch of BS to play for sympathy, something he had none of for his victims. Let him rot there.

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Linda March 13 2014 at 7:47 AM

NOT ONE OF THE MANSON FOLLOWERS SHOULD EVER GET OUT OF PRISON! END OF DISCUSSION.

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1 reply
Leslie Linda March 13 2014 at 7:50 AM

That's word-for-word what I was just about to post. Now, I'll just say DITTO!

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1 reply
boutiquewoman Leslie March 13 2014 at 8:10 AM

DITTO!

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ironhorse2634 March 13 2014 at 11:47 AM

He was a part of a cult that took the lives of innocent people (not too even mention a baby that never got a chance to experience life). He should stay in prison until the end of his life. Just him being alive, is more than they gave to their victims.

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lov2elkhnt March 13 2014 at 11:28 AM

Bruce was in it for the penny and in for the pound. Make sure he gets the whole pound all day. Keep him locked up. His victims he did his part to put in a grave yard don't get to go home either. He didn't do the killing himself but he supported those who did. He still holds info on details he was involved with and denys justice for some who still belong in jail. Leave him locked up.

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