Monthly Archives: April 2019
Governor Gavin Newsom Reverses Bobby Beausoleil’s Parole Grant
Friday, April 26th, 2019
GOVERNOR NEWSOM’S RULING ON BOBBY BEAUSOLEIL’S PAROLE RECOMMENDATION
Apr. 26 – Robert Beausoleil was a member of Charles Manson’s cult known as “the Family.” In the summer of 1969, the group fervently embraced Mr. Manson’s apocalyptic and brutal worldview. Mr. Manson and his followers believed that a civilization-ending war between the races – known as Helter Skelter – was imminent, and that the Family would emerge from hiding in the desert at the end of the war to take control of the world. Mr. Manson and his followers came to believe that the Family would have to trigger the start of a race war by committing atrocious, high-profile murders of white victims to incite retaliatory violence against black people. See People v. Manson (1976) 61 Cal.App.3d 102, 127-130. The Manson Family’s stated goal was to prepare for Helter Skelter, physically, mentally, and financially.
In July 1969, Mr. Manson and a group of Family members, including Mr. Beausoleil, discussed ways to raise money to relocate their group to the desert. They identified an acquaintance, Gary Alan Hinman, as a potential source of funds. On July 26, 1969, Mr. Beausoleil was seen in the company of Mr. Manson and Bruce Davis. Mr. Beausoleil was carrying a sheathed knife, and Bruce Davis had a 9-millimeter gun. That night, Mr. Davis dropped off three Family members: Mary Brunner, Susan Atkins, and Mr. Beausoleil at Mr. Hinman’s residence. Two days later, the group of three called Mr. Manson from Mr. Hinman’s house and reported that Mr. Hinman “was not cooperating.”
Mr. Manson and Mr. Davis returned to Mr. Hinman’s house. When they arrived, Mr. Hinman had already been struck with a gun; during that struggle the gun had discharged. Mr. Davis took the gun from Mr. Beausoleil and pointed it at Mr. Hinman while Mr. Manson sliced Mr. Hinman’s face open with a sword, cutting from his left ear down to his chin. Mr. Davis and Mr. Manson drove back to the Ranch in Mr. Hinman’s vehicle. Ms. Brunner, Ms. Atkins, and Mr. Beausoleil remained at Mr. Hinman’s house for two more days while Mr. Hinman lay bleeding. Mr. Beausoleil eventually stabbed Mr. Hinman in the chest and smothered him with a pillow, killing him.
Inside the home, using Mr. Hinman’s blood, the group wrote the words “political piggy” and drew an animal paw print on the walls. Mr. Beausoleil fled, but later returned to the house to wipe the paw print off the wall. Mr. Hinman’s badly decomposed body was found on July 31, 1969. Police arrested Mr. Beausoleil in Mr. Hinman’s car on August 6, 1969.
The question I must answer is whether Mr. Beausoleil will pose a current danger to the public if released from prison. The circumstances of the crime can provide evidence of current dangerousness when the record also establishes that something in the inmate’s pre- or post-incarceration history, or the inmate’s current demeanor and mental state, indicate that the circumstances of the crime remain probative of current dangerousness. (In re Lawrence (2008) 44 Cal. 4th 1181, 1214.) Additionally, I am required to give “great weight to the diminished culpability of youth as compared to adults, the hallmark features of youth, and any subsequent growth and increased maturity of the prisoner” when determining a youthful offender’s suitability for parole. (Pen. Code, § 4801, subd. (c).)
I acknowledge that Mr. Beausoleil’s crime was committed when he was 21 years old and that he has since been incarcerated for more than 49 years. I also acknowledge that Mr. Beausoleil has made efforts to improve himself in prison. He has participated in self-help programming, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Anger Management, Parenting, and Effective Communication. He earned a GED, completed two vocational programs, and has received positive ratings from work supervisors.
I carefully examined the record for evidence demonstrating Mr. Beausoleil’s increased maturity and rehabilitation, and gave great weight to all the factors relevant to his diminished culpability as a youthful offender — his immaturity, impetuosity and failure to appreciate risks and consequences — and his other hallmark features of youth. I have also given great weight to his subsequent growth in prison during my consideration of his suitability for parole. However, these factors are outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate he remains unsuitable for parole at this time.
Mr. Beausoleil helped perpetrate the first of the Manson Family’s atrocious, high-profile murders in an attempt to start a civilization-ending race war. Mr. Beausoleil and other Manson family members kept Mr. Hinman hostage and tortured him over several days in an attempt to finance their apocalyptic scheme. When Mr. Hinman refused to cooperate, Mr. Manson sliced Mr. Hinman’s throat and severed his ear, before Mr. Beausoleil stabbed him to death.
The circumstances of this brutal killing are not the only evidence that proves Mr. Beausoleil remains unsuitable for parole. The 2016 psychologist found that Mr. Beausoleil demonstrated only partial insight into the motives behind the crime, noting that he “lacks appreciation for the predatory, antisocial motivations for the crime, especially his willingness to engage in violence in order to achieve a goal.” The psychologist also concluded that Mr. Beausoleil’s lack of insight into his prior substance use makes him vulnerable to relapse and contributes to his risk of future violence. The psychologist noted that Mr. Beausoleil’s prior drug use led to his involvement with the victim, continued into his incarceration, and “caused significant impairment in his overall functioning.” While Mr. Beausoleil has participated in substance abuse programming, the psychologist determined that he “continues to demonstrate limited insight into his substance abuse” and “underestimates the significance of his prior use, as well as the risk of relapse.”
Over the course of his incarceration, Mr. Beausoleil has made admirable efforts at self-improvement. While Mr. Beausoleil reports to have accepted responsibility for his crime, I am troubled by his lack of insight into his underlying motives for committing such extraordinary violence. I am also concerned that Mr. Beausoleil will relapse into substance abuse if released. Given the heinous nature of this crime and Mr. Beausoleil’s limited insight into his violence and substance abuse, I do not believe he can be safely released at this time.
I have considered the evidence in the record that is relevant to whether Mr. Beausoleil is currently dangerous. When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that he remains an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison. Therefore, I reverse the decision to parole Mr. Beausoleil.
Decision Date: April 26, 2019
Governor of California
Appellate Court Hears Oral Arguments in Van Houten Case
Wednesday, April 24th, 2019
Apr. 24 – An appellate court panel today heard arguments regarding Leslie Van Houten’s writ of Habeas Corpus challenging Jerry Brown’s reversal of her September 2017 parole recommendation.
Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, sought the hearing because he felt Brown’s decision was not well supported and relied on isolated negative factors to conclude that Van Houten posed an unreasonable risk if released. The state’s Attorney General’s office argued in support of Brown, stating Van Houten’s case is a rare instance where the heinousness of the crime continues to offer evidence of her current dangerousness.
According to Pfeiffer, much of the hearing was spent discussing the Tex tapes and whether they should be released. Pfeiffer reasoned that since the basis of Brown’s denial revolved around the commitment offense, it made Charles “Tex” Watson’s 1969 account all that more relevant to Van Houten’s case.
The three judge panel ordered briefs be filed on whether Governor Newsom’s upcoming decision on Van Houten’s 2019 parole recommendation would make this case moot.
The court will have 90 days to publish an opinion.
UPDATED on 4/29 to include briefs ordered by the court.