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Follower of US serial killer Manson denied parole

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

California's governor on Friday reversed a decision to grant parole to a follower of notorious mass murderer Charles Manson, saying he was still a danger to society.

Bruce Davis, 70, was recommended for parole in October, more than four decades after he took part in the torture, murder and mutilation of two people as part of a plot by Manson's apocalyptic "Family" cult to ignite a race war.

Governor Jerry Brown acknowledged that Davis had "made efforts to improve himself while incarcerated," such as earning a doctorate degree in religion, holding jobs and volunteering with counseling groups.

But he said the murders in which Davis took part displayed "an exceptionally callous disregard for human suffering" and said the Manson follower had not been forthright in past descriptions of his role in the killings.

"In rare circumstances, a murder is so heinous that it provides evidence of current dangerousness by itself. This is such a case," Brown wrote in his order reversing the parole ruling.

Davis was recommended for parole once before in 2010, but Brown's predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected the recommendation for similar reasons.

Davis won a new release recommendation in October at his 27th California Parole Board meeting since his conviction over the 1969 deaths of musician Gary Hinman, who was stabbed, and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea.

Manson himself was refused parole in April, in what could be the 77-year-old's last review for release after more than 40 years behind bars, since he will not be eligible for parole again for another 15 years.

He headed an apocalyptic cult that committed murders in upscale, mostly white neighborhoods of Los Angeles in order to blame the crimes on African Americans, in hopes of sparking a "Helter Skelter" race war.

Manson was sentenced to death with four of his disciples for having led the 1969 killing of seven people, including Sharon Tate, the wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski. Tate was eight and a half months pregnant.

One of Manson's disciples, Leslie Van Houten -- convicted in the 1969 killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca in their Los Angeles home -- was denied parole in 2010.

Another follower, Susan Atkins, died of cancer in prison in 2009 after mounting over a dozen bids for parole and repeatedly apologizing for being part of the brutal crime spree.

Manson "family" member Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was released from prison in 2009 after serving 34 years for the attempted assassination of US president Gerald Ford.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130301/follower-us-serial-killer-manson-denied-parole