Breaking News Blog

Thursday, Oct 04 2012 04:27 PM

Panel recommends parole for Manson family member

BY LINDA DEUTSCH AP Special Correspondent

LOS ANGELES -- A California panel recommended parole Thursday for a Charles Manson follower who has been imprisoned for 40 years.

Bruce Davis, convicted with Manson and another man in two murders unrelated to the infamous Sharon Tate murders in 1969, appeared before the parole board panel on the eve of his 70th birthday.

It was his 27th parole hearing and was held at the California Men's Colony at San Luis Obispo, where Davis is imprisoned.

A parole board determined in 2010 that Davis was ready for release, but then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reversed the decision citing the heinous nature of the crimes. Gov. Jerry Brown has the final say on decisions by the current parole board.

Davis has been in prison since 1972 after being convicted with Manson and another follower, Steve Grogan, in the murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea.

Davis had been set for a hearing earlier this year, but he became ill and it was delayed.

"It's time for him to go home," Davis' attorney, Michael Beckman, who has been fighting for years to get his client released, said before the hearing.

Davis became a born-again Christian in prison and ministered to other inmates, married a woman he met through the prison ministry, and has a grown daughter. The couple recently divorced.

Beckman said Davis also earned a master's degree and a doctorate in philosophy of religion.

Beckman said his client is totally rehabilitated and meets state requirements for parole. Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira opposed his release.

Few followers of the infamous Manson cult have been released from prison. Grogan was freed in 1985 after he led police to Shea's buried body.

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was released from federal prison in 2009 after serving time for the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford.

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

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