Charles Manson follower won't be freed any time soon
A state prisons panel may have granted parole to a notorious killer described as a “right-hand man” to Charles Manson, but he isn't about to go free any time soon.
The decision on whether Bruce Davis, 69, walks out of California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo after spending more than four decades behind bars can be reviewed by the larger Board of Parole Hearings and, if necessary, Gov. Jerry Brown.
Terry Thornton, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman, said the Board of Parole Hearings, which has far more members than the smaller panel that decided to grant Davis parole, has 120 days to review the case.
After that period, if the decision is allowed to stand, the governor may conduct an independent review.
Under state law, Brown has the authority to reverse, modify or affirm the recommendation. Once it is in his hands, the governor has 30 days to make a decision, Thornton said.Saying he “would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society,” then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger blocked a 2010 recommendation to parole Davis.
Brown had no immediate comment Thursday on whether he would prevent Davis’ release.
But Manson family prosecutor Stephen Kay said he was alarmed at the prospect of Davis’ being paroled.
“Would you want to wake up and find Bruce Davis next door?" Kay asked. “I think not.”
Davis should die in prison, Kay said.
Sandi Gibbons, a Los Angeles County district attorney's spokeswoman, said the office was concerned and disappointed with the decision to parole Davis and would look at its options and take appropriate action.
In a news release, state prison officials said the panel agreed to recommend parole for Davis because of his “positive adjustment, record of no recent disciplinary problems, and for successfully completing academic and vocational education and self-help programs.”
Davis did not participate in the notorious 1969 Manson family murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others.
He was convicted in the slayings of Gary Hinman, an aspiring musician, and Donald “Shorty” Shea, a stuntman and a ranch hand at the Chatsworth ranch where Manson and his followers lived.
Police found a Black Panther symbol at the Hinman murder scene, which prosecutors later said was an attempt to incite a race war, which the Manson family called “Helter Skelter.”
Michael Beckman, Davis' attorney, told the Associated Press he was “pleased and relieved” by the parole board's decision, adding he hoped “Bruce's ordeal will be over.”
During his time in prison, Davis became an ordained minister and earned master's degrees in philosophy and religion via a correspondence program. Beckman said his client acknowledged he shared responsibility for the Hinman and Shea murders.
-- Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton