Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

Manson cult member 'may be paroled'

Bruce Davis, a member of Charles Manson's murderous cult, has been recommended for parole (AP)

Bruce Davis, a member of Charles Manson's murderous cult who participated in two killings, has been recommended for parole.

California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said the recommendation by a two-member panel of the Board of Parole Hearings came after the 26th hearing for Davis.

It's just the first step in a process that requires approval by the governor and other parole board members.

Davis, who is 67, was imprisoned in 1972. He was convicted in the murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea. He was not involved in the infamous Manson family murders of actress Sharon Tate and six others.

Lawyer Michael Beckman, who represented Davis at the parole hearing, said Davis acknowledged for the first time that he shared responsibility for the crimes, even though he did not kill anyone himself. "He said, 'I was as responsible as everyone there'," Mr Beckman said.

Los Angeles County prosecutors could petition the governor to reject parole, but spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said no decision had been made on how to proceed. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's office said it would base its decision on public safety and other considerations.

Davis was serving a life sentence after driving the car that took Manson family members to Mr Hinman's home in the Topanga Canyon area of Los Angeles. He also said he was present when Mr Shea was killed at the cult's communal home at Spahn Ranch near the San Fernando Valley.

Mr Beckman said Davis told the parole panel he had refused an order by Manson to chop off Shea's head but admitted slashing Shea on the shoulder.

The only other Manson family member convicted of murder to be paroled was Steve Grogan. He was released in 1985 after leading authorities to the site where Mr Shea's body had been buried. Manson follower Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was released from US federal prison last year 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 last year.

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