LOS ANGELES (AP) — The enduring mystery of why young people joined Charles Manson's murderous family appeared to be at the heart of Gov. Jerry Brown's decision Friday to reverse a parole board's recommendation and keep Bruce Davis in prison.
Brown said he wants Davis, who has been behind bars for 42 years, to come clean about all the details of his involvement with Manson's cult and the two gruesome killings of a stuntman and a musician.
It was the second time in less than three years that a California governor has rejected a parole board ruling in Davis' case. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger refused his release in 2010, citing the heinous nature of Davis' crimes and his efforts to minimize his involvement.
Brown repeated those reasons in a six-page decision but added his belief that Davis still has more to disclose about the killings.
"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 said.
"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," Brown said.
The state parole board, citing the prisoner's positive progress, approved release of the 70-year-old Davis, but the Democratic governor had the last word.
Brown gave his decision to The Associated Press at the downtown Los Angeles County courthouse after a meeting with District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who had recommended that Davis not be paroled.
Davis' attorney, Michael Beckman, called the governor's decision "horrible" and contrary to the findings of parole commissioners who conducted hearings for Davis and found him eminently suitable for parole. He said Davis has told everything he knows.
"I have represented over 700 life prisoners and of all of them, Bruce Davis is the most rehabilitated and qualified," the attorney said.
He said Brown's "paper review" of the case was insufficient to understand who Davis is today.
Brown said, "I find the evidence ... shows why he currently poses a danger to society if released from prison. Therefore, I reverse the decision to parole Mr. Davis."
But Beckman said that the governor failed to articulate any reason why Davis might pose a danger now.
If the problem is association with the Manson family, Beckman said, "They should pass a law saying if you were involved with these people you can't get out. But there is no such law. "