A state parole board panel today recommended parole for Bruce Davis, a one-time Manson Family follower who was convicted in two 1969 killings, one of which took place in nearby Topanga Canyon.
In January 2010, a parole board panel reached the same conclusion, but six months later, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected the recommendation, writing that Davis' release "would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society at this time."
Thursday was Davis' 27th parole hearing.
The parole board panel's finding is subject to a 120-day review period,
after which Gov. Jerry Brown could reverse, modify, affirm or decline to review the board's decision, according to state corrections officials.
Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District
Attorney's Office, said prosecutors will evaluate the parole panel's decision and determine how to proceed.
After a parole panel recommended Davis' release in 2010, District
Attorney Steve Cooley sent a letter to Schwarzenegger urging him to reverse the panel's recommendation.
In his June 2010 decision, Schwarzenegger said Davis had made "some creditable gains in prison.'' But the July 25, 1969, stabbing death of musician Gary Hinman in his Topanga Canyon home and the slaying of Donald "Shorty" Shea some time between Aug. 16 and Sept. 1, 1969, were "especially heinous because both victims were abused, tortured and mutilated," he wrote.
"... Indeed, some murders are so atrocious that the gravity of the
murder, by itself, evidences current dangerousness. I believe this is such a case," Schwarzenegger said. "... The gravity of the crimes supports my
decision, but I am particularly concerned that Davis has not gained sufficient insight into the life offenses and continues to minimize his role in these atrocious crimes."
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge vacated Schwarzenegger's decision,
but earlier this year, a three-justice panel from California's 2nd District
Court of Appeal upheld it.
"Respondent's own actions provide some of the egregious features of the
two murders of which he was convicted," the panel wrote in a 15-page ruling released Feb. 24.
The 2nd District panel noted that Davis has "all but admitted that he
held the gun on Hinman while (Charles) Manson mutilated Hinman's face" and "has acknowledged that he knew of the plan to kill Shea and went along with it" in a crime in which a ranch-hand at the Santa Susana Spahn ranch—where Manson family members lived—was stabbed numerous times while unarmed and outnumbered.
Davis, turned 70 Friday, was not involved with other followers of Manson in the Aug. 9, 1969, murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four
others in a rented Benedict Canyon home, or the stabbing deaths of grocery store owner Leno La Bianca and his wife, Rosemary, a day later in their Los Feliz home.
The Gary Hinman, for which Davis was convicted, took place on Old Topanga Canyon Road.
Steve Grogan, who was convicted in Shea's murder and helped lead
authorities to the site where the victim was buried, was the first former
Manson follower to be paroled from prison in 1985.
Manson and most of his co-defendants have repeatedly been denied parole.
Onetime Manson Family member Susan Atkins died in September 2009, about three weeks after a state parole board panel rejected her plea for a "compassionate release" from prison because of brain cancer.