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Schwarzenegger faces tough choice: Release Manson follower from prison?

January 29, 2010 |  7:36 am
http://www.topnews.in/files/Susan-Atkins.jpg http://www.abqjournal.com/abqnews/images/photo/charles%20manson_frie.jpgBruce Davis

Charles Manson has been denied 11 times.

Manson follower Susan Atkins, who stabbed actress Sharon Tate to death more than 40 years ago, was denied parole even when she was terminally ill. Leslie Van Houten has been rejected nearly 20 times.

But now, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will have to decide whether a member of the Manson family should be freed.

 Bruce Davis, who was convicted in the 1969 killings of musician Gary Hinman and ranch hand Donald "Shorty" Shea, was recommended for parole this week. A two-member Board of Prison Terms panel recommended Davis, 67, for release following his 26th parole hearing at the California Men’s Colony at San Luis Obispo, said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Davis has been in prison since April 21, 1972.

L.A. prosecutors opposed Davis' release -- and it's unclear whether law enforcement groups will lobby the governor to keep Davis behind bars.

After a review by corrections,  the governor has 30 days to review the board’s decision. He can reject it, take no action or modify the decision by adding a parole condition or changing the date of release.

Davis, one of the lesser-known followers of cult leader Charles Manson, was convicted in 1972 of the Manson-dictated murders of Hinman and Shea, whom Manson suspected of being a police informer.

Davis was not involved in the infamous Manson family murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others, and that may have played a factor in the panel's decision.

Davis attorney Michael Beckman told the Associated Press that his client acknowledged for the first time that he shared responsibility for the Hinman/Shea murders. "He said, 'I was as responsible as everyone there,' " Beckman said.

Last year, Manson follower Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was released from prison. She tried to kill President Gerald Ford. Follower Steve Grogan was released in 1985.

-- Andrew Blankstein and Shelby Grad

Photos: Atkins, Manson and Davis. Credit: Corrections Department.

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