California Gov. Jerry Brown overturned a state parole board’s decision to release a former Charles Manson follower who has been imprisoned for the past 43 years. This is the third time that Bruce Davis’ release has been denied by a California governor, the Associated Press reported.
In March, California’s Board of Parole Hearings found Davis, 71, suitable for parole based on Davis’ conduct in prison, where he earned a doctorate and helped educate other prisoners. While praising Davis for his efforts to reform himself, Brown wrote that the decision to not release him was based on evidence that shows Davis “currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison.”
Michael Beckman, Davis’ attorney, called Brown’s decision “horrible,” and said he would keep fighting for his client’s release from prison. Davis was convicted along with serial killer Charles Manson and others in the 1969 murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea, AP noted. He has long maintained he was only a bystander at the killings, although in recent years he has accepted his shared responsibility in the crimes.
The reason Brown said he refused parole to Davis last year centered on the gravity of his crimes, as well as his refusal to fully accept his responsibility for the murders. In his decision Friday, Brown wrote that Davis continues to paint himself as a passive bystander and highlighted the comments Davis made to a psychologist in 2013.
“I was a dependent person. I needed attention and approval. I wasn’t my own person. I wanted sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll,” Davis said. He later added, “I wasn’t looking out for my best interests; I was led by fools, bigger fools than myself.”
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In his decision, Brown said he had asked Davis to accept his role in the Manson family as “a leader who actively championed the family's values,” as opposed to his current version of that time, which holds he was just a follower. Brown wrote, “He did not address these concerns at his most recent parole hearing.”
Davis was not involved in the infamous murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others, making the possibility of his getting parole more likely than several other Manson family members. Manson himself and three of his followers -- Leslie Van Houten, Patricia Krenwinkel and Charles “Tex” Watson -- have been imprisoned for life for their roles in the Tate killings. Susan Atkins, another convicted Manson family member, died of cancer in prison in 2009.
Davis will get another chance to apply for parole before the Board of Parole Hearings between March and September next year, a board representative said.