Friday, February 27, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Will Manson Family killer ever walk?

TomEliasW

By
From page A6 | March 26, 2014 |

If it seemed like déjà vu all over again the other day when the state’s parole board issued a decision that could free a leading disciple of perhaps the most vicious killer California has ever seen, that’s because it was.

The order marked the third time in the last five years that the Board of Parole Hearings has tried to release convicted Manson Family murderer Bruce Davis. The previous two attempts were reversed, first by ex-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and then by current Gov. Jerry Brown.

This being an election year, it’s almost inconceivable Brown would allow Davis to be released this time, either. Going along with the parole board now would open Brown to Republican charges of being soft on crime, something he’s never been.

It’s been more than 44 years since a cadre of young followers of the racist guru Charles Manson loosed a campaign of terror upon Southern California, their avowed purpose to get a race war raging across the state and nation. He called the scheme “helter skelter,” taking the term from a Beatles song.

Their most notorious slayings were those of actress Sharon Tate and four others at her home in leafy Benedict Canyon on the northern edge of Beverly Hills and the killings of wholesale grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife Rosemary in their home a few miles away one day later. Manson’s henchmen (and women) covered the walls of the LaBianca residence in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles with racist slogans scrawled in their victims’ blood.

Davis didn’t go on either of those expeditions, remaining at the (now built over) Spahn Movie Ranch in the Chatsworth area of the suburban San Fernando Valley on those humid August nights.

But he did participate in the murders of movie stuntman Donald (Shorty) Shea, whose body was carved up and buried piecemeal around the ranch in the summer of 1969, and aspiring musician Gary Hinman, also cut to pieces with knives and a sword by Manson and friends.

It’s difficult for those not involved in investigating, prosecuting or covering the Manson Family crimes to comprehend their gruesome nature. Trial testimony by one former Manson minion revealed that Davis held a gun on Hinman while Manson slashed his face with a sword, trying to extort money from him. Shea was killed allegedly because Manson feared he was a police informant.

When Brown last year refused to allow Davis to be paroled, his six-page decision included this salient point: “In rare circumstances, a murder is so heinous that it provides evidence of current dangerousness by itself.”

In short, Brown, who at that point had signed off on 81 percent of the parole board’s recommendations for releasing murderers serving life sentences, remembered the crimes well.

To Brown and to most who still recall the Manson spree, the fact that Davis has claimed for more than 40 years he had little to do with Shea’s death, saying he inflicted only a “token” stab wound on the stuntman’s shoulder, matters little. The same for the fact he has been well-behaved in prison and has earned a Ph.D. while incarcerated.

All of which raises the question of what might happen when California gets a governor who not only doesn’t remember the Manson Family, but has little heard about it. If Brown is reelected this fall, that question will be delayed. But the leading candidates to succeed him in 2018 might include Democrats like Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, two years old at the time the Mansons ran amok, and state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, five at the time. Brown’s current Republican opponents, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly and former financier Neel Kashkari, were respectively three years old and not born until about four years afterward.

Might their lack of sentience at the time lead one of them to let Davis go? If so, that would be just plain wrong, for some crimes are just too horrible ever to be forgiven, no matter how old or intellectual the perpetrators may become.

— Email Thomas Elias at [email protected] His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    New greenhouse will add to ‘Farm to Mouth’ program

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Learn about pollinators, gardens and honey at Yolo Basin fundraiser

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Can you give them a home?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    For the record

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Fire damages South Davis home

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Gerber nominations close Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Explorit: Humming right along

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A3

    Flower arrangers feature S.F. designer

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Celebrate Africa on Saturday at I-House

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Chamber explores how to pay for Davis’ needs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Wolk and Dodd team up to provide Napa earthquake tax relief

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Robb Davis to speak about homelessness, energy

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Spring sing-along is March 4

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Two free yoga classes offered March 12

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Take a night walk at Cache Creek

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Class of 1970 plans 45-year reunion

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Bicycle safety course to be offered in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Documentary on immigration issues will be screened

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Learn about your brain on March 14

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    A fill-up mishap

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Adopt a household for Bridge to Housing participants

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Workshop will teach sustainable gardening methods

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Forum

    Tired of all of this

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Oral Health Project launches

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    Here an H, there an H

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

     
    Cavalier attitude about bike safety

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    Start early to build healthy dental habits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B6

     
    No extra cost for containers

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

    .

    Sports

    Inquiring minds want to know about Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Encouraging start for DHS boys tennis team

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Off day for Aggie men at UCSB

    By Kim Orendor | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Aggie women fall to 4th after lackluster showing

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Lady Devils are on to the SJS semis

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Blue Devil boys expect a spike in production

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Late goal lifts Red Wings over Sharks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

    Watney struggling at windy Honda Classic

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B12

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    International Film Series to present ‘Jaffa’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Monticello announces March schedule

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    The Artery presents ‘Stepping Into Nature’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    YoloArts’ Gallery 625 presents ‘The Poetry of Dots’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    ‘Focus': A sharply conceived caper

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    The Woodland Opera House announces 2015-16 season

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Nissan’s Z remains an affordable performer

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3

     
    Car Care: Simple DIY steps to protect your car through all seasons

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Dieter W. Gruenwedel

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    George Miller Jr.

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Death notice: Celia E. Recchio

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Vernon E. Burton

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, February 27, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B5