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Governor blocks parole for Manson family member Bruce Davis

March 01, 2013|By Paige St. John | This post has been updated. See note below for details.
  • Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday blocked parole for Manson Family member Bruce Davis.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday blocked parole for Manson Family member Bruce… (California Department…)

Saying he still poses a threat to society, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday blocked parole for Manson family member Bruce Davis.

“Until Davis can acknowledge and explain why he actively championed the Family’s interests, and shed more light on the nature of his involvement, I am not prepared to release him,” the governor wrote in his decision.

Davis, 26 at the time of the killings, was convicted and imprisoned in 1972 for his role in the murders of two men, ranch hand Donald “Shorty” Shea, who also worked as a Hollywood stuntman, and aspiring musician Gary Hinman.

Details of Shea’s killing have always remained murky, muddied more by Davis’ recent account that the ranch hand was taken to a different location and killed not the night that prosecutors claimed, but the following morning. Another Manson family member, Steve “Clem” Grogan, allegedly cut off Shea’s head. Grogan, the only Manson family member convicted of murder to be set free, won parole in 1985 by leading law enforcement to Shea’s body. California corrections officials said he has since had no criminal offenses in this state.

Like Grogan, Davis, now 70, was not implicated in the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and four others in a Benedict Canyon home, nor of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Hinman was held captive for days, tortured and then killed in July 1969 as part of an extortion plot at the outset of the infamous Manson family murder spree.

Shea’s August 1969 stabbing and beheading death took place after, in August or September 1969, because Manson believed he was a police informant.

[Updated 12:55 p.m., March 1: Davis’ attorney, Michael Beckman, said he was “disappointed and saddened by the governor's horrible decision to play politics yet again with Bruce Davis' life.” Beckman said the governor’s reasons for denying parole would be “laughable if the consequences for my client weren't so devastating."]

paige.stjohn@latimes.com

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