Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday reversed a parole recommendation for Bruce Davis, now 77, for the 1969 slayings of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea. It was the sixth time Davis was recommended for parole but blocked by a governor.
Davis was not involved in the more notorious killings of actress Sharon Tate and six others by the Manson group the same year. Davis was convicted of helping kill both men in separate slayings, after which other members of the cult wrote “political piggy” on the wall of Hinman’s home in his own blood.
Parole panels have repeatedly decided Davis is no longer a public safety risk, citing his age and good behavior. But his release has been blocked by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrats Jerry Brown and Newsom.
Like his predecessors, Newsom said Davis remains too dangerous to be free. Davis has yet to demonstrate that he has a “comprehensive understanding of how he came to participate in such extreme violence,” Newsom said. “As a result, I do not believe that he has the current insight and skills to abstain from violent situations in the future if released.”
Davis has said he attacked Shea with a knife and held a gun on Hinman while Manson cut Hinman's face with a sword. "I wanted to be Charlie's favorite guy," he said during a 2014 parole hearing. Attorney Michael Beckman said his client lacks the money to challenge Newsom’s decision in court.
“Six parole boards ... decided he’s been rehabilitated” after extensive hearings, Beckman said. “They’re wrong. He is rehabilitated and has been for a long time.” Davis was convicted with Manson and another follower, Steve Grogan, in the two slayings. Grogan was paroled in 1985 after he led police to Shea's buried body. Robert Beausoleil, 72, convicted in Hinman's death, remains in prison.
Manson died in prison in 2017 at age 83. Manson followers Leslie Van Houten, 70; Patricia Krenwinkel, 71; and Charles "Tex" Watson, 73, are imprisoned for the Tate killings. Their co-defendant, Susan Atkins, died of cancer in prison in 2009.
Newsom earlier this year blocked parole for Beausoleil and Van Houten.