Yearly Archives: 2014
Friday, August 8th, 2014
Bruce Davis Parole Transcripts
- 03/12/14 Parole Hearing
- 10/04/12 Parole Hearing
- 01/28/10 Parole Hearing
- 09/15/08 Parole Hearing
- 09/06/07 Parole Hearing
Shea / Hinman Files
PRESS RELEASE FROM GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN, AGAIN DENYING PAROLE FOR FORMER MANSON FAMILY MEMBER BRUCE DAVIS
Aug. 8 – The Board of Parole Hearings found Davis suitable for parole based on his satisfactory conduct in prison, age, parole plans, positive psychological evaluation, acceptance of responsibility, participation in self-help programming, laudatory notes from correctional staff, work ratings, and educational accomplishments.
Davis is now 71 years old and has been in prison for over 43 years. I acknowledge Davis has made efforts to improve himself while incarcerated. He has not been disciplined for serious misconduct since 1980 and earned his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in religion from Bethany Bible College, graduating summa cum laude. He has been commended for his outstanding job performance, high personal standards, and excellent people skills. He has worked in the chapel for nearly three decades, teaches Bible study classes, and has moderated Yokefellows Peer Counseling since 1983. He has participated in self-help classes including Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous, Alternatives to Violence, and others. I commend Davis for taking these positive steps. But they are outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate he remains unsuitable for parole.
The exceptional brutality of these crimes and the terror the Manson Family inflicted on the Los Angeles community 45 years ago still resonate. The sentencing judge aptly noted that “these were vicious murders. They indicate a very depraved state of mind on the part of the defendant.”
Davis’s crimes were intended to fund and protect the cult and to trigger an apocalyptic race war. The Family planned a violent robbery of Gary Hinman because they believed he had money to fund the cult’s endeavors. Davis armed himself with a gun and drove others to Mr. Hinman’s home. Two days later, Davis and Manson were summoned for help. Davis pointed a gun at Mr. Hinman while Manson slashed Mr. Hinman’s face from ear to chin. The two left the others to continue to hold Mr. Hinman hostage in his own home while he bled profusely, and Beausoleil finally stabbed him to death and smothered him with a pillow. The Family used Mr. Hinman’s blood to write messages on his walls and left his body to decompose and rot. Two weeks later, other members of the cult carried out seven more horrific murders. Seventeen days after the Tate-LaBianca massacre, Davis, Manson, and others killed Mr. Shea because they suspected he was a police informant. They surrounded Mr. Shea, relentlessly beat and stabbed him, chopped up his body, and hid his remains. Davis finally admitted in 2012 that he sliced Mr. Shea from his armpit to his collarbone while the others stabbed Mr. Shea. Davis and Manson later bragged about the gory details of the murder. These crimes represent that “rare circumstance” in which the aggravated nature of the crimes alone is sufficient to deny parole.
The crimes alone, however, are not the only evidence that Davis is unsuitable for parole. Davis continues to paint himself as a passive bystander who took part in these appalling events because he was afraid of the repercussions of breaking away. He told the psychologist who evaluated him in 2013, “I was a dependent person. I needed attention and approval. I wasn’t my own person. I wanted sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll.” He later continued, “I wasn’t looking out for my best interests; I was led by fools, bigger fools than myself.” Davis told the Board that he was willing to do “whatever it took” because he wanted to be “Charlie’s favorite guy.” He still maintains that he did not participate in the planning of the murders of Mr. Hinman or Mr. Shea.
Davis explained that he “deceived himself” by telling himself that it was “okay” as long as he did not actually “pull the trigger” to kill Mr. Hinman. He claims that he refused to go out on August 9 and 10, 1969 to participate in the Tate-LaBianca murders because “I didn’t want to be involved in something that could be physically confrontive.” He claims that he reluctantly participated in the stabbing of Mr. Shea because he was threatened by Manson and said that immediately after he “cut” Mr. Shea, “I looked around as if I hope you’re happy, threw down the knife and left. And that was a shock. That was a shock.” He said, “I felt terrible about it. I didn’t feel, of course, too terrible not to do it, because I was – I had – there was other considerations like what will happen if I say no.”
Davis’s explanations show he is still dodging responsibility for his active role in these murders. Each of the members of the Manson Family, including Davis, knew full well what the purpose and intent of the cult was— to prepare for and instigate Helter Skelter. Davis’s actions show that he, too, signed on to the plan and didn’t merely tolerate the violence of the others. Davis did not just “cut” Mr. Shea, he sliced Mr. Shea “from armpit to collarbone.” As I noted in my reversal last year, Davis bragged about murdering and dismembering Mr. Shea, stating “Yeah, when we brought him to now, Clem cut his head off,” adding, “That was far out.” Davis also bragged to Springer about dismembering Mr. Shea as a way to “tak[e] care of snitchers.” Although Davis did not participate in the Tate-LaBianca murders, those grisly crimes neither caused him to question his involvement with the Family, nor deterred him from participating in the brutal murder of Donald Shea weeks later. Davis then evaded capture for over a year, hiding in the desert with the other cult members. These are not the actions of a distraught and reluctant participant.
Davis was not simply a follower. At his sentencing, the judge stated, “I don’t want to give…the impression that Mr. Davis was at all a dupe…in these cases or simply a foil of Charles Manson.” The judge, who reviewed the facts of this case first-hand, observed that Davis was older and more educated than most of the other members of the cult and capable of independent judgment, and said “he shouldn’t be treated as somebody who was just led along by the nose and at the whim and command of Charles Manson. He’s a man who is capable of going on his own path and he deliberately chose to engage in these murders.”
My reversal of Davis’s grant of parole last year was based on the gravity of his offenses as well as his minimization of his role in these events. I noted that Davis was still revealing new details about the murders over 40 years later. I asked Davis to explain why he has shielded other Family members from prosecution by withholding information about these crimes, and to finally reveal what he knows. I asked him to reconcile his version of being a follower with the evidence that he was a leader who actively championed the Family’s values. He did not address these concerns at his most recent parole hearing. For the same reasons I articulated last year, I find that Davis is not suitable for parole.
I have considered the evidence in the record that is relevant to whether Davis is currently dangerous. When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that he currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison. Therefore, I reverse the decision to parole Davis.
EDMUND G. BROWN JR.
Governor, State of California
Decision Date: August 8, 2014
Thursday, July 10th, 2014
Bruce Davis Parole Transcripts
- 03/12/14 Parole Hearing
- 10/04/12 Parole Hearing
- 01/28/10 Parole Hearing
- 09/15/08 Parole Hearing
- 09/06/07 Parole Hearing
Shea / Hinman Files
Jul. 10 – Governor Jerry Brown will have until August 9th, the 45th anniversary of the Tate murders, to decide whether or not to affirm, modify or reverse the Board of Parole Hearings’ decision to grant Bruce Davis parole.
The Board of Parole Hearings’ March 12th recommendation for parole has now been confirmed after the 120-day BPH review process and today becomes subject to Brown’s review.
Davis, 71, serving life terms for his role in the 1969 murders of Gary Hinman and Donald “Shorty” Shea, has been recommended for parole in three consecutive hearings, but has seen two of those recommendations reversed during the executive review process.
After receiving 23 consecutive one-year denials, Bruce Davis was recommended for parole for the first time on January 28, 2010. The decision, however, was reversed in June of 2012 by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who wrote, “I believe his release would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society at this time.”
Davis was again recommended for parole at his next hearing held on October 4, 2012. But that decision was reversed in March of 2013 by Governor Brown, who stated Davis was still unsuitable for release into society because of the heinous nature of the crimes. Brown’s reversal highlighted areas where, over the years, he felt Davis had minimized his role in both the Manson family and their crimes. The governor also questioned how truthful Davis had been, stating as an example, that Davis hadn’t mentioned Larry Jones being present during the Shea murder until his 2010 parole hearing.
“Davis’s choice to withhold information regarding the crimes and the identity of a potential crime partner indicates to me that his commitment to the Manson Family still exceeds his commitment to the community,” wrote Brown.
Brown now has 30 days to decide whether he will let the board’s March 12th recommendation stand. And as fate would have it, that review window will expire on the 45th anniversary of the most infamous of all Manson family crimes, the Tate murders.
Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
Opposition letter from Cory LaBianca, read by her cousin, John DeSantis, at Leslie Van Houten’s 2006 Parole Hearing
My name is Cory LaBianca, and I am the eldest daughter of Leno LaBianca. Rosemary LaBianca was my stepmother for 11 years. I was 21 years old at the time of their deaths and I loved them both dearly. My cousin, Lewis Smaldino and John DeSantis, have graciously appeared at these parole hearings, representatives of the entire LaBianca family. In my eyes, they are angels. John has offered to read my letter to you today.
The house at 3301 Waverly Drive is in our — in our family for years. Since 1940, when my grandfather and grandmother, Anthony and Corina LaBianca bought it for their growing family. A solidly-built, white stucco house with a red tile roof, stood upon an acre of high land in the Los Feliz hills of Los Angeles. It was a modest two-bedroom home. But the ceilings in every room are decorated with (inaudible) intricately painted scroll work and the grounds reminiscent of a miniature Italian villa. The sweeping front lawn was our Thanksgiving Day rolling (inaudible), where my cousins and I would race each other rolling; rolling sideways to the bottom of the hill. We played hide and go seek in a side yard. A well-manicured rose garden maze like the Queen’s Garden in Alice in Wonderland. The sloping backyard was filled with trees that only my older cousins, boy cousins, were allowed to climb fully mature walnut, persimmon, apricot, fig and one huge mulberry. That mulberry tree covered the ground with its ripe fruit and I loved to mischievously squish those dark, juicy berries into the cement with my bare feet, knowing I would get a mild scolding from Papa Anthony if he caught me. The wine cellar beneath the back porch was off limits, and when nobody was looking, my little brother and I would creep open the rickety old wooden door and climb into the dark dankness of forbidden space, just to count the wine bottles and finger the spider webs. Sometimes we would get to stay overnight at our grandparents’ house. And in the early morning, Nana Corina would wake me and we’d walk to the bottom of the hill to admire her morning glories. The blue violet, funnel-shaped blossoms were mixed in with the ivy that blanketed the slope next to the road, and were always the first thing I’d seen from the car window when we came to visit. See how they open with the sun, Nana would say, cupping the flower gently in her hand. Aren’t they pretty. And then we would turn and walk slowly up the long driveway to the house. This was our family home, our grandparents’ home, the place where I and all my cousins have wonderful memories.
But on the night of August 10th, 1969, those memories were fractured when a band of strangers invaded our home and killed my parents, who were living there at the time. Can you imagine how we must feel having that nightmare interwoven with our most cheeriest childhood memories? We can do nothing to change the events of 37 years ago or to erase those horrible memories from our hearts and minds. But you, the Parole Board, can make certain that we don’t have to bear more. I ask you, please, do not make a mockery of what we love with your decision here today. Your rule — Your ruling will have an impact on all our lives.
Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
May 7 – On the afternoon of Sunday, September 21, 1975 Lynette Fromme was interviewed on tape at the Sacramento County Jail by Dr. James Richmond, at the request of U.S. District Judge Thomas J. MacBride, to evaluate if Fromme was mentally competent to give up counsel and represent herself at trial. The tape was hand delivered to MacBride the following day and placed under seal, along with Dr. Richmond’s determination which read:
Lynette Alice Fromme was seen in psychiatric evaluation on the 21st of September, 1975, pursuant to your order and in accordance with provisions of Title 18 U.S.C. Section 4244. Present throughout the examination was Robert M. Holley, Assistant Federal Defender. Mr. David R. Kraft, Federal Public Defender Investigator, was present periodically to supervise the tape recording of the examination, The evaluation lasted approximately one hour and forty minutes and was conducted with the stipulation from Mr. Holley that absolutely no questions be asked with reference to the events of the alleged offense.
The defendant is a 26 year old, single, caucasian woman who stated that she was charged with the attempted assassination of the President of the United States. She stated the alleged offense occurred on the 5th of September, 1975, and that she had been arrested at approximately 11 A.M. of that same day, being held in the Sacramento County Jail since that time. She estimated she had been in court approximately 3 times. She said that she was represented by the Federal Defender’s Office, having discussed her case to some degree with both E. Richard Walker and with Robert Holley of that office. She stated that presently she was represented primarily by Mr. Holley whom she felt to be a competent attorney. She stated that she had experienced no difficulty in communicating with each of these attorneys. She expressed her awareness that the offense was a very serious one and that she faced “years to life” in prison if she were found guilty. She stated that she had entered a plea of “Not Guilty,” this plea having been decided upon primarily by herself with concurrence from appointed counsel. While unwilling to discuss in any detail her planned defense, she stated that she thought there was a 70% chance of being found Not Guilty, though she had concluded that she would probably do some prison time, perhaps for a charge other than attempted assassination.
With regard to the issue of self representation in court, Miss Fromme stated that she had considered this issue at length and that she had a definite conviction “in heart and mind” to carry this through. She expressed her firm conviction that noone could adequately speak for her, that people generally should speak for themselves. She expressed concern about the distortions that had appeared in various publications, indicating in a general fashion that she hoped her image might be changed by her deportment during the trial. She expressed awareness that there would be attempts to make her out to be a bad person, stating that she could remain calm under such a situation. While saying that only she could adequately speak for herself, she said that she was aware the trial situation was not a forum to express her ideas generally and that she was prepared to accept the authority of the court. She anticipated no difficulty in conducting herself in a “businesslike” manner. She acknowledged her lack of familiarity with the technical aspects of courtroom procedures, saying however, that she thought she could pick these up as the trial proceeded as she was “quick” when she wishes to be. She stated that she did “plan” on having Mr. Holley as her co-counsel, though this matter had not previously been discussed, and that such an arrangement would be “fair.”
Miss Fromme stated that it was not a severe emotional stress to appear in court, that she felt comfortable with you as the trial judge, and that she had a general conviction that you would handle her case fairly. This she said was not based on any personal knowledge of your record or the types of decisions which you have made, but rather was based on a general feeling of comfort in her communication with you. She stated further that she had full recall of the circumstances of the offense, and that she could discuss these in detail without undue emotional strain. She said She has the ability to “make the best of any situation” she is in.
Miss Fromme said that she was feeling well, mentally and physically. She denied any present anxiety, depression, paranoia, hallucinations, insomnia, anorexia, depersonalization, or use of medication. She said that she was sleeping well, arising refreshed. She estimated she had lost some weight, the product of passing up jail food which is markedly different from her prior health food and vegetarian diet. She denied any prior history of significant mental illness, psychiatric therapy or hospitalization.
Miss Fromme acknowledged having experimented with LSD and marijuana in prior years. She said that newspaper accounts of how heavily she had used drugs were patently false. She estimated that she had used LSD approximately 30 or less times, and she stated that she had never experienced any severe psychiatric disturbance from such use. She said that she had used marijuana lightly, perhaps one joint per week, in no steady pattern. She said that the effects from it were even lighter than from the LSD. She denied any residual memory or intellectual deficit from the use of either.
Miss Fromme did not wish to discuss her family or prior life in any detail as she felt this was not pertinent to the issues at hand in the present evaluation. She claimed that she had gotten along well with parents and siblings and that she was not a rebellious child. She stated that when she was 18 she and her father disagreed about certain things, and he asked her to leave home. She has not been contacted by her parents since incarcerated.
Miss Fromme has been educated through high school. She did very well academically to start, but lost interest in her later study and her grades fell to average. She had started college, planning to major in psychology, but dropped out when she was asked to leave home.
With regard to her life from 18 to the present, Miss Fromme said that newspaper and magazine accounts were grossly distorted in many ways. She described this period of her life as one marked by increasing social awareness with a discovery of a joy in giving. She denied that she had participated in “sex or drug orgies, or cult meetings, or hanging Christ in effigy, or thinking Charlie was Christ.” She said that she believes in God as “life force” resident in all living things, and that all persons are potential deities. She said that this world is a beautiful place. She expressed no firm belief, pro or con, regarding some final “judgement”, but she stated that people pretty much “judge themselves.”
Miss Fromme is a young caucasian woman with long reddish-brown hair who appeared several years younger than her stated age. She was dressed in typical jail garb. Both her clothing and her hair were somewhat disheveled, though her grooming generally was adequate. She had a careful, somewhat tired expression about her. As the examination continued she loosened up emotionally, showing a range of emotional expression in keeping with the present situation. She smiled appropriately periodically. She displayed no overt anxiety or depression, and there were no signs of a psychotic thought disorder. She was attentive, comprehended my questions without difficulty except for occasional words with which she was not familiar, and her responses were quick, pertinent, and appeared candid. Her statements were consistently rational. She appeared to be a most sensitive and intuitive person, acutely tuned in to social issues. At one point she suggested a way in which I might join in with a constructive social activist project prominent in her thoughts. There was an air of composed restraint with regard to what she believed to be gross and repeated distortions and misinterpretations of her prior life and activities. She was alert, well oriented, and displayed intact intellectual functions including that of memory. Her abstractive abilities were quick and certain, indicating a definite ability to think symbolically. While not having extensive formal education, she appeared to be of at least bright normal intelligence. While she obviously had strong underlying emotions, she was consistently soft spoken and definitely in control.
As I explored in detail with Miss Fromme her thoughts and intentions with regard to representing herself in court, she became concerned that perhaps I was trying to talk her out of such a course of action. She accepted my reassurance that I had not been appointed nor had I come for such a purpose. It appeared that she had given considerable thought to this issue, that she was accepting of the fact that she was not technically experienced, but that she was firmly determined to do this if at all possible. Her desire for co-counsel was most appropriate, though I could not be certain that this thought had preceded my questioning. In this regard, she was most attentive to the presence of Mr. Holley, and she indicated that she wished to speak with him as soon as the examination was concluded.
It is my opinion that Lynette Alice Fromme is mentally competent to understand the proceedings against her and to assist in her own defense. It is my further opinion that she has the capacity to meaningfully waive the right to counsel, should this be her desire.
In July of 2013, the Eastern District Historical Society and the Sacramento Bee began filing a series of motions in U.S District court, requesting the court unseal items possessed by the clerk from the Fromme trial. On the list was the 93-minute audio recording of the Fromme/Richmond interview.
The following month, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller tentatively ordered the release of a number of sealed materials from the trial. However, the Fromme/Richmond recording wasn’t included on the list and remained under seal. Attorneys representing the Eastern District Historical Society and the Sacramento Bee partially objected to ruling, arguing that the Fromme/Richmond tape should not be excluded. Their argument cited United States v. Kaczynski, in which the Ninth Circuit court had granted the motion to unseal a redacted version of Theodore Kaczynski’s psychiatric competency report.
A week later, U.S. Attorney Christiaan Highsmith responded to the Sacramento Bee’s partial objection, writing:
The Government objects to this request because the defendant, Ms. Fromme, has not been notified of the Bee’s motion. In United States v. Kaczynski, 154 F.3d 930 (9th Cir. 1998), which the Bee cites in its motion, the Court of Appeals ordered the release of redacted versions of the defendant’s psychiatric competency report. In the Kaczynski case, the defendant was provided with notice of the motion to unseal his psychiatric report, and he opposed that motion before the Court of Appeals made it ultimate decision to unseal portions of the psychiatric report. Here, however, Ms. Fromme has not yet been provided with notice of the Bee’s motion to unseal. The Government believes it is proper that Ms. Fromme be notified of the motion to release her psychiatric report before the Court issues its order concerning whether the report must be unsealed.
On November 12, 2013, notice was sent to Lynette Fromme’s last known address that a hearing on the motion to unseal the psychiatric report would be held in Sacramento on January 17, 2014. It is unknown whether Fromme would’ve objected to the release, or if she even received the notice, because she never responded.
After both the U.S. Attorney and the court determined Fromme was provided adequate notice, the motion to unseal was granted in part in order for the tape to be digitized so that the Judge could review it to determine if redaction was necessary.
On April 16, 2014, Judge Mueller made her final ruling, unsealing the entire recording, writing:
In this case, given the contents of the audio recording and the applicable law, the court finds no need to redact portions of the recording. Unlike the redactions in Kaczynski, there is no discussion of ‘private information’ or information that has ‘the potential to embarrass a person not before the court.’ Instead, the recording exclusively explores, through Dr. Richmond’s questioning, defendant’s background, demeanor, and mental state and explores defendant’s motivation, desire, and ability to represent herself. Dr. Richmond reviews these issues for the purpose of determining whether defendant was competent to stand trial and represent herself, if she wished. Thus, the court finds unsealing the entire report ‘serve[s] the ends of justice by informing the public about the court’s competency determination.’
Friday, April 18th, 2014
Olivia Klaus and Patricia Krenwinkel at the California Institue for Women while filming Life After Manson
Photo Credit: Quiet Little Place / Misty Dameron Photography
- TRIBECA WORLD PREMIERE
@ AMC LOEWS VILLAGE
April 18, 4:00 pm 66 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10003
- TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING
@ AMC LOEWS VILLAGE
April 21, 2:30 pm 66 3rd Avenue, New York, NY 10003
- TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING
@ BOW TIE CINEMAS CHELSEA
April 25, 7:00 pm 260 W 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011
- TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING
@ TRIBECA CINEMAS THEATER
April 27, 12:00 pm 54 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013
April 18 – A new documentary, Life After Manson, featuring Patricia Krenwinkel’s first on-camera interview in over two decades, is set to premiere today at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. The film, which profiles Krenwinkel life, is directed by Olivia Klaus, whose previous documentary, Sin by Silence, told the stories of a group of battered women all convicted of killing their abusive lovers.
It was during the filming of Sin by Silence that Klaus came to find out one of the members of the group she volunteered in was Patricia Krenwinkel. According to Klaus, Krenwinkel approached her with the idea of doing the interview and because they were already filming the support group, they were able to get around a law that traditionally gives the department of corrections the right to prevent on-camera interviews with high profile inmates.