We all have weaknesses, don’t we?
If we’re human.
And MsBurb’s weakness is trusting everyone, all the time, right out of the gate, as it were.
Yep, you’d think I would have out-grown this child-like approach to Life and my fellow oxygen-breathers, but I haven’t. That is why evidence and facts are so important to me when I attempt to establish if, in my own mind, any of The Manson Family killers are suitable for release. Because if I just believed everything they said in their statements, my six-year-old mind would say, “Let’em out already! They’re good people now, honest!”
Yep, I’d be sayin’ that right up to the time that they found me in my home, shortly after midnight on a hot summer’s night…sigh…
So, after my initial reading of Bruce Davis’ 1993 Parole Hearing transcript and recovering from my dizzy waffling on the believability of his rehabilitation and remorse, I sat back, took a few days off, and returned to the transcript, line-by-line, to see if his statements were made from whole cloth or just Swiss cheese, with holes of doubt big enough to drive Johnny Schwartz’s Ford through, that is!
The proof, they say, is in the pudding and the questions started to cook;
1) Shea Timeline - Bruce, like the other killers of Shorty Shea, NEVER offers a more specific timeline for this murder. I KNOW they had no watches nor calendars at the Ranch but one would think that when one murders a fellow friend, one would be able to narrow the timeline down a wee bit better. In the commitment offences to Count III, the date on record for the Shea murder is put from August 16 to September 1, a sixteen day period of time, and Bruce, nor anyone else, never, to my knowledge, supplies a more accurate date for this murder. I guess, in my mind, I find it curious that even drug-abused killers could not, or wished not to narrow down the timeline, and Bruce’s unwillingness to try to offer more information on this, or any other, aspect of his offences does place a doubt in my mind as to the willingness on his part to admit to and own up to all the aspects of his crimes.
2) First Degree Murder Conviction for Gary Hinman - The question of whether or not Bruce should have been convicted of First Degree murder in the killing of Gary Hinman seems very questionable. Bruce admits to driving the killers to Gary’s and that “I knew they were up to no good. I drove them to the house…I went along with what was going on…I knew that something wrong was going to happen, I just didn’t think they’d kill him.”
This is definitely a “grey” area, in my opinion. Up to this point, the Family had NOT been known for murder, so I can buy that Bruce could have seen this as just a strong-arm tactic to get money. I don’t believe he knew when he drove Bobby, Sadie & Mary over that day, that he would be involved in a premeditated murder plot. I think to give Bruce Murder One for his involvement in Hinman was overkill, pun not intended. Granted, Bruce admits he knew they were armed but “everything had been talk….Up to that time nobody had ever done anything that I knew of. I didn’t believe Bobby Bouchalet [Beausoleil] would do that.”
The ONLY question I have as to his truthfulness on this, is to wonder how Bruce would have NOT been aware of the Crowe shooting, that gossip around the Ranch, and Manson’s belief that he did indeed murder Bernard Crowe, wouldn’t have been widely known. Of course, Bruce didn’t initially drive Manson to Hinman’s; although, with Manson’s eventual involvement in the crime, Bruce had to have known that murder may have been a possibility by then. This, for me, is a tough issue, but I feel comfortable saying that Davis should NOT have received Murder One for his participation, Murder Two or Manslaughter One seems more appropriate.
3) Cutlass to Hinman’s House - How could Manson have carried a 20 inch cutlass over to Hinman’s house without Bruce being aware of it? I guess Bruce may have not seen Manson put it in the vehicle but somehow, Manson being the show-off that he was every chance he got, I just don’t see Charlie being sneaky about this act. In my opinion, Bruce KNEW that Charlie was armed with that knife and when he drove Manson over to Hinman’s and he surely knew there was every chance Manson would use it on him as he used the Buntline on Crowe.
THIS may be where the Murder One enters into his involvement. With Bruce sticking to his statement that he never knew there was murder in the air, the question of his knowing of the existence of that cutlass over at Hinman’s definitely holds another colonel of doubt for yours truly.
4) Decisions to Kill and Not to Kill - Bruce claims all the way through this transcript that he saw Manson as a Father figure, and to question Manson’s decisions on anything was counter-intuitive to how Bruce operated within himself and within The Family. If that is the case, and he readily admits that someone asked if he would like to go on the TLB nights, why was he so adamant to refuse TLB but so willing to accept participation in Hinman and Shea? Actions speak louder than words and his actions/inactions are not consistent at all. Davis never gives any concrete reasoning for his actions/inactions so one is left wondering if his wayward approach to life is still as unpredictable now as it was then. And without having the ability to know how he’d react to committing a crime in the future, one is left with a definite doubt as to whether parole is warranted in this case.
5) Shea Murder Crime Scene – Bruce puts Tex behind the wheel, Shea in the front passenger seat, Clem directly behind Shea and himself behind Tex. Manson, Bill Vance nor Larry Bailey, although implicated at the murder scene once Shea’s body was down the hill, are never placed in the car at all. Yet, when questioned for his release, Steve Grogan (aka Clem Tufts) doesn’t place Bruce at all in the car with Steve, yet clearly remembers Tex and Shea in the front seat. BOTH men put Tex on the scene yet Charles Watson NEVER admits to his involvement in this murder, to this very day, yet admits all the other crimes in which he was involved in The Family???
Are ya getting dizzy again, ‘cause I know I am!
The descriptions of who was where and who did what, when all seem very questionable to me, if you accept that it was Manson’s personal desire to “off” Shorty because he was a “snitch'”. It also begs the question of why Manson wasn’t in the car to see that this murder went down as per his orders? Both Bruce and Grogan place Charles Manson at the scene but do NOT place him in the vehicle and BOTH men place Tex in the car and at the scene when Tex has never admitted either?
Bruce states that it was on the excuse to get “car parts” that Shea accompanied the guys down the hill, and this excuse just doesn’t seem logical to me. I have heard others say that Shea was so ready to accompany the boys down the hill because Charlie had told Shea that one of his favourite horses was seen on the loose down in the valley. I don’t know about you, but a loose horse over a car parts buying jaunt seems a heck of a lot more plausible where Shorty is concerned. Shorty was NOT overly friendly with The Family and I highly doubt he would have accompanied any of these men anywhere except if it concerned one of the horses he so dearly loved at that Ranch. I know, this is a small issue – the reason for going – but one wonders as to Bruce’s overall truthfulness if he can’t even remember the excuse that was used to lure Shea to his death…another colonel of doubt, another hole in the cheese.
6) Shea Body Locale - Throughout this Hearing and all others, Davis consistently claims that he never knew the location of Shea’s body and therefore never notified authorities of said to receive a possible early release as did Grogan. Bruce’s statement on this is difficult for me to believe. Davis admits that Shea was already “down the hill” when he exited the vehicle and played his own part in stabbing Shea. Shea was over six feet tall and a large-build man; it’s tough to believe that once his dead corpse was down one of those shale/sandy hills that anyone would have had the strength to carry his body very far after that, at least, without the assistance of many men – the men which were there – to get the job done.
Regardless, one could assume that even if Bruce wasn’t present at the exact burial site of Shea, he could have offered the exact location of where the men assaulted Shea, if only to give a pin-point locale that then could be used as ground zero to fan out the search in all directions from that point. Bruce Davis, to my knowledge, NEVER even offered the location of the kill site, nor any other factual information on the murder to assist law enforcement in their investigation of the crime. Is this the behaviour of a completely rehabilitated and remorseful person?
PUNCH! goes another hole in the cheese.
I know that if it had been me in Bruce’s stead, I would have screamed to anyone who would listen, “Okay, here’s EXACTLY where we stabbed him. Now, go in a 360 degree circle from that locale and dig up the ground in that radius and you’ll probably find him some where in there!” But Bruce never said that, did he. Grogan finally did. And if you buy that oft-repeated rumour that Grogan, by himself, transported Shea’s body in a wheel barrow (sent over to the kill site from one of the guys at the Ranch) to the burial site, I doubt you can buy that Grogan never talked of his wheel-barrow “adventure” to all and sundry once he returned to the Ranch. The chances that Bruce never heard from Clem or one of the other killers, the exact location of Shea’s body seems a million-to-one shot, given the fact that Clem couldn’t keep his mouth shut about “getting five of those Pigs the other night” after Tate and The Family’s overall penchant for talking/bragging about all the grizzly acts of all of their murders.
For Bruce to NOT have known, even after the fact, seems contrary to everything we DO know about The Family. Definitely another hole in the cheese as to Bruce’s worthiness to obtain a release date, in my opinion.
7) Davis’ Age - Bruce was 26 years old at the time of the Hinman/TLB/Shea murders, turning 27 in October of that year, the second oldest Family member to Manson himself. One cannot categorize Davis as a “kid” in Manson’s flock, and to his credit, he denies ever being hypnotized or under any sort of drug-induced spell in terms of Manson’s hold on him, offering it not as an excuse for why he committed the murders that he did.
At 26-27, one is definitely a fully-grown adult, a person who has been on this earth long enough to know right from wrong IF that person has a conscience to begin with, a person who knows what consequences will result if one breaks a law such as premeditated murder. Yet, by his own admission he states, “I was emotionally immature and dependent on on everything else to give me value inside….And when he [Manson] did that, hey, I was – I was wide open. I was wide open. And, you know, I was just – I was just sucked into it. I made – I – and I wasn’t the victim in this. I bought into it, you know. I – I wasn’t hypnotized. I don’t – I’m not saying somebody did something to me. I just chose it. I didn’t realize the implications of the choice, I will tell you that….And I wasn’t wise enough to understand that they – the price for this was going to be more than I’d ever want to pay. I didn’t – I didn’t count the cost. I didn’t even – I didn’t even consider it.”
This statement leaves me wondering hard if there is more to Bruce than meets the eye. That, as a fully-grown adult, consequences were either non-existent or not important. If it’s the latter, then his wife, Beth, chose to marry a sociopath over the son of a former President (Ford), who by clinical definition, should never be released.
The questions mount up and the cheese gets holier…
To be continued…