Gov. Jerry Brown Friday reversed a state panel's parole recommendation for former Charles Manson follower Bruce Davis, finding he "poses a danger to society if released from prison."
Followers of Charles Manson lived at Chatsworth's Spahn Ranch.
In a six-page document, Brown wrote, "As our Supreme Court has acknowledged, in rare circumstances, a murder is so heinous that it provides evidence of current dangerousness by itself. This is such a case."
The governor noted that Davis has "made efforts to improve himself while incarcerated" and commended him "for taking these positive steps," but found they are "outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate he remains unsuitable for parole."
Davis, now 70, was convicted of the two counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder and robbery in connection with the July 25, 1969, stabbing death of musician Gary Hinman in his Topanga Canyon home and the stabbing and beheading of Spahn ranch hand Donald "Shorty" Shea some time between Aug. 16 and Sept. 1, 1969. Shea was last seen alive Aug. 27, 1969.
"Davis played a central role in these murders. He was a part of the (Manson) Family's discussions to rob and kill Mr. Hinman," the governor wrote, noting that Davis "now admits that he pointed the gun at Mr. Hinman while Manson mutilated Mr. Hinman's face."
"... He was also a part of the family's discussions to kill Mr. Shea. Davis and the others surrounded and viciously attacked Mr. Shea. Davis now states he sliced Mr. Shea from his armpit to his collarbone while his crime partners repeatedly stabbed and clubbed Mr. Shea. He later bragged about how Mr. Shea's body had been dismembered and decapitated," the governor wrote.
Davis had previously stated that he made a "token cut" to an already-dead Shea under pressure from Manson, according to the governor's decision.
"After 42 years of incarceration, it is encouraging that Davis is beginning to reveal the actual details of what happened. But it is clear that he continues to withhold information about these events," the governor wrote, adding that he is "concerned that Davis continues to minimize the extent of his involvement and leadership within the family."
"... 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," Brown wrote. "When considered as a whole, I find the evidence I have discussed shows why he currently poses a danger to society if released from prison."
Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey had opposed parole for Davis, writing in a Jan. 24 letter to the governor that he "consistently blames everyone but himself for his criminal and antisocial behavior" and that he "blames his father for his upbringing and Manson for influencing him to commit the murders."
The county's top prosecutor wrote that "it is evident that Davis lacks insight, genuine remorse and understanding of the gravity of his crimes."
Shea's daughter and former wife also wrote letters to the governor opposing parole for Davis.
"I beg of you not to let this murderer back into society," Shea's daughter, Karen Arline Shea, wrote in a Jan. 11 letter. "I strongly feel that he deserves to stay in prison until the day he dies as my father was a good man and was denied the chance to live his life out fully by being brutally murdered at the hands of Bruce Davis."
It marked the second time that a state parole board panel's recommendation of parole for Davis has been overturned in recent years.
In January 2010, a parole board panel reached the same conclusion, but six months later, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected the recommendation, writing that Davis' release "would pose an unreasonable risk of danger to society at this time."
Davis was not involved with other followers of Manson in the Aug. 9, 1969, murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others in a rented Benedict Canyon home, or the stabbing deaths of grocery store owner Leno La Bianca and his wife, Rosemary, a day later in their Los Feliz home.
Steve Grogan, who was convicted in Shea's murder and helped lead authorities to the site where the victim was buried, was the first former Manson follower to be paroled from prison in 1985.
Manson and most of his co-defendants have repeatedly been denied parole.
Onetime Manson family member Susan Atkins died in September 2009, about three weeks after a state parole board panel rejected her plea for a "compassionate release" from prison because of brain cancer.