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Governor Brown Denies Bruce Davis Parole, Again

Friday, August 8th, 2014

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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

30 Days: Bruce Davis’ Parole Fate Is Now In The Governor’s Hands

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

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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.

Leslie Van Houten’s 2006 Parole Hearing

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

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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.

Sincerely,
Cory LaBianca

Click here to read full transcript

Patricia Krenwinkel Documentary, Life After Manson Debuts At Tribeca Today

Friday, April 18th, 2014

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Olivia Klaus and Patricia Krenwinkel at the California Institue for Women while filming Life After Manson
Photo Credit: Quiet Little Place / Misty Dameron Photography

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.

Bruce Davis’ 2014 Parole Hearing

Friday, April 4th, 2014

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Statement made by Gary Hinman’s cousin, Kay Martley, at Bruce Davis’ 2014 first parole hearing.

Good morning. I appreciate my opportunity to speak on behalf of a member of my family who cannot speak for himself. My cousin, Gary Hinman, was a musician who left his home state of Colorado to live and work as a musician in the Los Angeles area. Gary was kind and outgoing. He was a good-hearted person who often gave others in need of a place to stay for a few days or a few dollars to get by. Gary’s charity is what led him to be befriended by the wrong kind of people, the kind of people who tortured him for several days before killing him. And Bruce Davis was among that group of people and that group of people is now better known as the Manson family. Everyone knows the Manson family is responsible for the murders of Sharon Tate, her friends, the LaBiancas, Shorty Shea and others who had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m here to speak on the behalf of our family and remind this Panel of the devastating impact Gary’s death had and continues to have on our family.

Even Gary’s death hasn’t gotten the same kind of publicity. Gary’s mother died only a year after Gary’s murder at the age of 61. We watched the stress and grief eat away at her until it killed her. Gary’s sister, Carol, can barely bring herself to talk about what happened to her brother. She remains afraid even now to speak out for fear of retribution from other Manson followers. Over the years, Bruce Davis’ story about the level of his involvement, his actions, his culpability has changed constantly. He has never shown remorse, taken accountability or tried to apologize to any member of my family. At Mr. Davis’ last parole hearing, he represented a letter from someone named Renee Riley, which apparently they didn’t check on the veracity of it, who she doesn’t belong to our family nor has anything to do with us. Neither Carol, Gary’s sister, nor anyone else in our family know who this person is or gave her permission to speak on the behalf of the Hinman family. However, I have traveled 1500 miles to come here today. I am a member of the Hinman family. I grew up with Gary and I’m here to tell you that Gary’s murder has a lasting impact on our family. Every time Mr. Davis comes up for parole, the surviving members of Gary’s family must relive the horror of his death. These people held Gary captive in his home, stabbed him, cut off his ear, tortured him over a period of three days. When they found him, the carpet was soaked with Gary’s blood. The walls were covered with Gary’s blood. There was — this wasn’t a crime of passion or impulse. This was slow and calculated and cold-blooded. This is what Bruce Davis did. The problem is you can’t undo a murder. You can’t undo the death of a mother over her son. You can’t undo the paralyzing fear that a sister lives with on a daily basis. You can’t undo the empty space in a family where a living, breathing person once was. Above all, you can’t change history. But that’s exactly what Bruce Davis wants you to do. He wants you to forget that he’s a mass murderer. He wants you to forget that he’s alive today and Gary Hinman isn’t. He wants you to look past the fact that he learned to manipulate the system and misrepresent Renee Riley’s letter as being from someone in the Hinman family, when in fact the murder victim’s family have never heard of her. He wants you to think he’s rehabilitated when he’s never taken any kind of responsibility for his actions to the family that has lived with the results of his action. I ask you today for justice for my cousin, Gary, and all the other victims from the Manson family. I do not believe in revenge, but I do believe in justice. Because of the nature of the crimes committed by Mr. Davis, and the severity of them, because he’s never shown remorse or taken responsibility, Mr. Davis should remain in prison for the rest of his life — for the rest of his life — which was a lot more than my cousin, Gary, got. When a punishment is handed down by a court or jury, it should be fulfilled. Thank you.

Click here to read full transcript

The People of the State of California Vs. Charles Tex Watson