Bruce Davis, former Manson family member, set to be released on parole after serving 47 years in jail
The 76-year-old was cleared for release following a five-hour parole hearing at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo on Friday morning
Former Manson family member and killer Bruce Davis is set to be released on parole from jail in California. Following a five-hour-long hearing at the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, the 76-year-old was cleared for release, reports the Daily Mail.
Davis will now be allowed to go free after 120 days unless California Governor Gavin Newsom overturns the decision. The Manson follower was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald 'Shorty' Shea in the August of 1969 and conspiracy to commit murder and robbery. He has spent 47 years behind bars since his sentence began in 1972.
At the hearing, Davis told Commissioner Roger Anderson that he has been in solitary confinement since April 19 following a threat made against him, but that he has completed a series of courses in jail – a 16-week life awareness course that covered topics like anger management, victim awareness and relapse prevention.
He also said that he has found religion in jail and would go to a transition home upon release. In addition to this, he expressed his interest in continuing his prison work as a quality control inspector on the outside.
The 76-year-old also informed the board of his health concerns – he suffers from respiratory disease emphysema and requires a hip replacement.
Davis's release is not without opposition. Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Donna Lebowitz opposed his release saying that Davis had shown a lack of insight into the impact of his crimes on the families of the victims and the society. Lebowitz added that Davis's claims that he wasn't directly involved in the murder of the musician were "implausible" and pointed to discrepancies in his testimony about Shea's murder.
Davis had claimed that he just drove the gang to and from Hinman's house during the hearing. He added that he was too afraid of Manson not to take part in the murdering Shea. Hinman's cousin, 81-year-old Kay Martley of Denver, Colorado, was also at the hearing along with murdered Sharon Tate's sister Debra.
Davis told the board that it wasn't until the morning after the Tate killings happened that he knew about it. When asked why he didn't report the crime to authorities, he said, "I don't know. I'm embarrassed to say but at the time I didn't care."
But the opposition wasn't one to rest easily. During the hearing, Martley told the board, "Bruce Davis already had a second chance when his death sentence was commuted to life. He doesn't deserve a third one."
Following the decision of the board. Martley is reportedly angry and upset at the result adding that she refuses to believe that Davis no longer poses any threat to the public.
"I don't think he's suitable for parole because of public safety. I know the prison mission is that they should let people out and make prisoners suitable members of society. But these people [the Manson Family] are not. Just look at their personalities and what they did," she told Daily Mail.
This is the sixth time that Davis has been granted parole, but it was blocked the last five times with the last decision coming from former Governor Jerry Brown in 2017. At that time, Newsom had said that Davis appeared unrepentant and presented a danger to the public having "committed some notorious and brutal killings in California's history".
The then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger overturned his bid for parole in 2010.
In 1972 when California abolished capital punishment, Davis and the other members of the Manson family were resentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
While the death penalty was reinstated five years later in 1977, Davis wasn't sent back on death row. As a result of which, he has repeatedly come up for parole since 2010.
Other members of the Manson gang, Bobby Beausoleil and Lesley Van Houten, were cleared to leave jail in January. This makes Davis the third member of the gang to be granted parole this year.
The other surviving members of the Manson family – Tex Watson and Patricia Krenwinkel – were denied parole in October 2016 and July 2017 respectively. They cannot make further applications until October 2021 and July 2022.
Davis, a Tennessee native met Charles Manson after arriving in California in 1965. Manson died in jail in October 2017.
On July 25, 1969, Davis drove Manson, Bobby Beausoleil and Susan Atkins to Hinman's home. The Colorado musician had come into the gang's orbit the previous year since they assumed that he has come into an inheritance and planned to "coerce" him into handing over the cash after he turned down an offer to join the gang.
When Hinman refused to hand over the money telling them that he did not have it, Manson cut his ear off and then left his house – leaving him to be tortured by the other for two agonizing days. Hinman was left to rot in his house for three days before he was discovered by concerned friends.
Manson told his followers the murders were committed in the name of a race war that he dubbed 'Helter Skelter' (after a Beatles lyric).
While Davis wasn't involved in the notorious Tate or LaBianca murders, he participated in the murder of ranch hand and stuntman Shea at the Spahn Ranch a month after Hinman's death. He was the last man standing from the Manson gang and finally gave up on December 2, 1970, on Manson's orders.
In 2017, at his last parole hearing, he said he had committed murder because "I wanted to be Charlie's favorite guy".