Manson family killer Davis gets parole grant, but is not free yet

A California parole board has once again issued a grant of parole for convicted Manson family killer Bruce Davis.

Gov. Jerry Brown now has 150 days to decide whether Davis, 71, should go free. Last year, Brown concluded Davis still posed a threat to society and blocked his release.

“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 at the time.

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

[For the record, 5:25 p.m. PST, March 12: An earlier version of this report said that Gov. Jerry Brown has 30 days to decide whether Davis should go free. He has 150 days.]