• Debra Tate Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

Debra Tate Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

May 10 – Debra Tate, the outspoken adversary of the Manson family, has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

After losing her mother Doris to brain cancer in 1992 and her sister Patti to breast cancer in 2000 – both victims’ rights advocates – Debra dedicated her life to continuing her family’s legacy. Over the past two decades, Debra has become a staple at Manson family parole hearings, relentlessly opposing their release.

Last year, Tate launched online petitions on her website noparoleformansonfamily.com, collecting nearly half a million signatures opposing parole for Manson family members.

A gofundme page to help with Tate’s medical bills has set up by her friend, Jillian Barberie.


Superior Court Judge Considers Granting Van Houten Hearing

Friday, May 5th, 2017

May. 5 – A Los Angeles County Judge, yesterday ordered the District Attorney’s office to show cause why Leslie Van Houten shouldn’t be allowed a hearing in the Superior Court to create a record, documenting evidence of her immaturity at the time of the LaBianca murders.

A series of high court decisions over the past decade have highlighted the psychological differences between juveniles and adults, leading to several changes on how the two groups are handled, in terms of sentencing and parole. The courts have acknowledged that juveniles lack maturity and have an underdeveloped sense of responsibility, leading them to implusivity and reckless behavior. Juveniles are more vulnerable to negative outside influences and also lack strong character traits, therefore their actions are less indicative of who they are, or will become, later in life.

In response to this, California adapted youthful offender parole hearings with the passage of a senate bill in 2013. Inmates whose commitment offense occurred before the age of 18 and had served 15 to 25 years of their sentence, would be given parole hearings in which the board would have to put great weight on diminished culpability of juveniles and contrast it to any evidence of growth and maturity that has occurred since.

In October of 2015, the youthful offender parole program was expanded to inmates that had committed their crime before the age of 23, thus making Van Houten eligible.

In January, Van Houten’s attorney, Richard Pfeiffer requested a hearing to be held in Los Angeles County Superior Court, pursuant to People V. Franklin. The purpose of the Franklin hearing is to establish a record of mitigating evidence of Van Houten’s youth at the time of the offense. This record will assist the Board of Parole Hearings, Governor’s office and the Courts, by giving them a formal profile of Van Houten’s state of mind when she was involved with the Manson family.

Pfeiffer has submitted to the court a recent psychological evaluation of Van Houten and he has indicated he plans to subpoena the Tex Watson tapes.

The Watson tapes are the earliest known documented account of the Tate-LaBianca murders. Recorded before any codefendant account had been made public, the Watson tapes provide an uninfluenced look into the two nights of murder which he led. Watson’s account, more than any other account to date, can provide the greatest clarity on the murders and months leading up to them. The tapes will also provide insight into the influence on Van Houten, both at Spahn Ranch and at the LaBianca residence during the murders.

On Monday, Pfeiffer filed a motion with the Board of Parole Hearings to disqualify the entire Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office from participating in Van Houten’s upcoming parole hearing in September. The motion, charges that the office holds a bias against his client and is unable to exercise its function in an evenhanded manner. The motion largely focused on the District Attorney’s refusal to turn over the Tex Watson tapes despite the office conceding the tapes were exculpatory.

If the District Attorney refuses to turn the tapes over for the Franklin hearing, Pfeiffer has indicated he will file a motion to exclude their office from it as well.

Yesterday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sam Ohta gave the District Attorney’s office 30 days to respond as to why Van Houten’s request for a Franklin hearing should not be granted, and whether or not, she has already had adequate opportunity to make such a record.


Van Houten Attorney Seeks to Exclude District Attorney’s Office

Monday, May 1st, 2017

May. 1 – Leslie Van Houten’s attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, has filed a motion to disqualify the entire Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office from participating in Van Houten’s upcoming parole hearing, charging that the office is biased against his client and unable to exercise its function in an evenhanded manner.

According to Pfeiffer, the entire office has worked as a whole to mislead the California Supreme Court, the Board of Parole Hearings and the Governor, and that Jackie Lacey’s involvement has been direct. In the 11-page filing, Pfeiffer states that the District Attorney’s Office continues to withhold exculpatory evidence, in the the Tex Watson tapes and that the office misrepresents facts related to his client because of the existence of a conflict of interest.

Pfeffer has requested the District Attorney’s Office be disqualified and the hearing be handled by the Attorney General. “The [District Attorney’s] Office has an unfair advantage of knowing the contents of the tapes that is has conceded are exculpatory,” wrote Pfeiffer.

In a separate filing, Pfeiffer has requested members of Leno LaBianca’s extended family, as well as Debra Tate, also be disqualified from taking part in the hearing. Leno LaBianca’s nieces and nephews have regularly attended Van Houten’s hearings for nearly two decades now. But according to Pfeiffer, nieces and nephews do not qualify as next-of-kin and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to take part in the hearing.

Van Houten’s parole hearing is currently scheduled for Wednesday, September 6th.


Bruce Davis Granted Parole for Fifth Time

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Feb. 1 – For the fifth time in seven years, a California parole board has found Bruce Davis suitable for release. The decision was made earlier today, at Davis’ 31st parole hearing, held at the California Men’s Colony in San Luis Obispo.

The parole board’s decision will undergo a 120-day review, after which Governor Jerry Brown will have 30 days to reverse, modify, affirm or decline to review the decision.

Davis, 74, serving a life term for his role in the 1969 murders of Gary Hinman and Donald “Shorty” Shea, has previously been recommended for parole in the past four consecutive hearings, but has seen all four of those recommendations reversed by the Governor’s office during the executive review process.

Davis turned himself in outside of the Hall of Justice on December 7, 1970, after evading capture for nearly a year. Davis’ trial began in late 1971 and lasted four months. On March 14, 1972, Davis was convicted on two counts of First Degree Murder and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Murder and Robbery. Judge Raymond Choate sentenced Davis to a life term the following month.

“These were vicious murders indicating a depraved state of mind on the part of the defendant,” said Choate during sentencing. “I don’t want to give the impression that he was at all a dupe or the foil of Charles Manson. Davis is much older than most of the youngsters that were led by Manson. He is more intelligent and educated and more capable of independent reasoning. For reasons only known to him, he did not exercise that reasoning.”

Davis has only two rules infractions in over four decades of incarceration, the last one occurring over 37 years ago. He received a write-up in 1975 for sharpening a spoon and one for conduct in 1980. Davis has received a Master’s degree from Borean School of the Bible and a Doctorate degree in philosophy and religion from Bethany Seminary, graduating summa cum laude. While incarcerated Davis has married and fathered a child. His marriage has since ended in divorce.

“Bruce is the single most rehabilitated inmate I’ve represented in the California prison system,” wrote attorney Michael Beckman, who has represented Davis since 2000.

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.”

In preparation for Davis’ 2012 hearing, the first hearing since Davis’ initial recommendation, the District Attorney’s office did two things. Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira actively sought out next-of-kin from the Hinman and Shea families, who thus far had never attended any of Davis’ hearings. Sequeira wanted to notify the families of the upcoming hearing, perhaps hopeful they would provide impact statements to appeal to the board.

Sequeira also began pressing to acquire the 1969 tape-recorded statements made by Charles “Tex” Watson with his Texas attorney, Bill Boyd. Publicly, the Los Angeles Police Department sought the recordings for possible clues for unsolved crimes. But within the District Attorney’s office, where efforts to acquire the tapes had originated, Sequeira was hopeful that the tapes could provide material for him to use at Davis’ upcoming parole hearing.

Sequeira was unable to get the tapes in time for the hearing, but managed to secure statements from relatives of Gary Hinman and Donald Shea. Kay Martley, Gary Hinman’s cousin and Phyllis Shea Murphy, Donald Shea’s first wife, submitted impact statements. Neither Martley nor Murphy attended the hearing, but their statements were read to the parole board by Sharon Tate’s sister, Debra Tate and former Manson family member, Barbara Hoyt.

Despite their efforts, Davis was recommended for parole for the second time. After the decision passed its initial review, newly appointed District Attorney, Jackie Lacey, pleaded with California Governor Jerry Brown to reverse the decision.

“Davis has been diagnosed with narcissistic and antisocial personality traits. He consistently blames everyone but himself for his criminal and antisocial behavior,” wrote Lacey. “It is evident that Davis lacks insight, genuine remorse and understanding of the gravity of his crimes.”

On March 1, 2013, Governor Brown reversed the parole board’s decision stating 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.

Davis came up for parole again in March of 2014 and this time Kay Martley attended the hearing in person. It was the first time a family member of one of Davis’ victims had attended one of his hearings. The board commended Davis on his institutional programming and once again found him suitable. Five months later, on the weekend of the 45th anniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders, Governor Brown once again reversed Davis’ parole grant.

“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,” Brown wrote in his reversal decision. “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.”

Davis came before the board again in August of 2015 and for the second consecutive hearing, so did Kay Martley.

“Although it has been 46 years since Gary was murdered, the passing of time has not diminished the impact of this horrendous crime and our family continues to serve a life sentence of heartbreak, grief, and loss,” Martley told the board. “I’m here today to respectfully ask the Board to require Mr. Davis to serve a sentence that is no less than the one my family is now serving, a term of life.”

Despite this plea, the parole board found Davis suitable for release and again his fate went onto the Governor’s desk where months later the decision was overturned.

“The horror of the murders committed by the Manson family in 1969 and the fear they instilled in the public will never be forgotten,” wrote Brown when reversing Davis’ parole recommendation in January of 2016. “I have reversed grants of parole to Davis twice before, not only because of his atrocious crimes, but also because he minimized the nature and extent of his responsibility for these murders and his role in the Manson family.”

The District Attorney’s office view Davis as an unreasonable risk to society while Beckman sees him as a reformed man that has become a political prisoner because of his link to Manson. There’s little reason to believe anything will be different this time around.

It’s been nearly four years since the District Attorney’s office took possession of the Tex Watson tapes. Despite their eagerness to get them to use at parole hearings, to date, they never have.

“If they contained anything negative about Bruce,” wrote Beckman, “you can be certain the DA would have trotted it in as soon as the tapes became available.”

Governor Brown will have until July 1st to weigh in on the decision.


Debra Tate Pens Los Angeles Times Op-Ed

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Jan. 4 – Debra Tate has penned an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times in which she discusses the most recent parole hearing of Patricia Krenwinkel.

Last Thursday, the California Board of Parole Hearings issued a continuance on the parole suitability hearing for Patricia Krenwinkel, because it was suggested that Krenwinkel was a victim of “intimate partner abuse.” According to Vicky Waters, Press Secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Board of Parole hearings will conduct an investigation into the allegations, and then resume the hearing at a later date.

“I couldn’t believe it when Lam asked if Krenwinkel qualified as a battered woman,” wrote Tate. “Nor could the other family members in the hearing room.”

“Patricia Krenwinkel has been diagnosed as a sociopath more than once. In the controlled environment of prison, she has done well. But she is still a dangerous woman. Krenwinkel — and all the members of the Manson family — should never be granted parole.”