If I were governor, hell would have to freeze over and Twinkies would have to be certified as organic health food before Bruce Davis would walk out of prison.
Davis was part of the Charles Manson cult convicted in a series of heinous murders. Davis is in prison for the killing of two men. At his trial he contended he was just a bystander. In recent years he acknowledged that he shared responsibility.
The state Board of Parole Hearings has determined Davis is suitable for parole. The final decision rests with Gov. Jerry Brown.
It can be argued prison sentences for a number of crimes may be too long. You can talk about whether prison reforms or hardens criminals. But when it comes to those convicted of first-degree murder they deserve no slack.
The ultimate crime is the taking of another’s life. A first-degree murder conviction reflects the complete disregard for another’s life, the heinous nature of the murder, and the fact it was premeditated.
Davis made a choice when he decided to hang with Manson. He made a choice again in July of 1969 when he participated in the murder of 35-year-old Donald Shea. He followed that up with another choice two months later when he helped with the murder of Gary Hinman.
In the Shea murder, he testified he was simply in the car when another Manson disciple struck the victim in the head with a pipe wrench and Manson stabbed him. Davis conveniently glosses over the fact Manson had said they were going to kill Shea. Davis said he stayed in the car while the others took Shea into the countryside, tortured him and repeatedly stabbed him. At one point he said he got out of the car and stabbed Shea at Manson’s directive.
Davis contended the episode made him sick for two or three days. But not sick enough to leave or to report the murder.
Then two months later he was present when the Manson family went after Hinman believing he had inherited money. Others present said that Davis pointed a gun that he had bought at Hinman’s head and brought the sword that Manson used to cut off Hinman’s ear and later torture him to death.
Davis has gone from denying any culpability in parole hearings including holding the gun to saying he couldn’t recall adding if someone said he was pointing the gun at Hinman’s head he could have been but he certainly wasn’t intending to kill anyone.
The parole board believes Hinman is suitable for release.
They point to him becoming a born-again Christian in prison, ministering to other inmates, marrying a woman he met through the prison ministry, having a baby who is now a full grown woman, and earning a degree and doctorate in philosophy and religion. Davis has since gotten a divorce.
But what have Hinman and Shea been doing for the past 44 years? They’ve been rotting in their graves while Davis has been “reforming” himself.
Hinman and Shea got no second chances. They were not shown mercy by the self-proclaimed judge, jury and executioner that was Charles Manson and his followers.
Davis earned a long prison sentence just based on his self-described actions in the Shea murder. But once he stuck around and participated in a second murder several months later he deserved to die behind bars.
Life is about choices. And when one of your choice is to help take the life of not just one but two others you do not deserve a get-out-of-prison card.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209-249-3519.