Kay Martley said she was stunned by the Los Angeles County DA’s decision to stop opposing parole for the Manson follower convicted of killing her cousin.
Whenever the notorious killer Charles Manson or one of his convicted followers would come up for parole over the last 40 years, a Los Angeles County prosecutor joined victims’ family members at a California state prison to argue against the release.
But when Kay Martley joined a California Board of Parole Hearings video conference to consider parole for convicted Manson “family” killer Bruce Davis earlier this month, she was stunned to learn she would be making the case on behalf of her murdered relative alone.
“I had no one to speak for me,” said Martley, 81, whose cousin Gary Hinman was tortured and killed by Manson followers on July 27, 1969. “I felt like no one cares about the victim’s families anymore. We are totally forgotten.”
The absence of a prosecutor was no oversight. It was the result of a policy shift ordered by newly elected Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, who campaigned on promises to reduce the number of people in prison.
The new mandate puts a halt on Los Angeles County prosecutors opposing parole for inmates sentenced to life who have already served their mandatory minimum period of incarceration.
Gascón’s directive is part of a sudden shift in how his district attorney’s office, the largest in the nation, is considering victims’ rights before, during and after criminal trials.
The move is not likely to have a direct effect on Davis’ fate, experts say. Even though the state board recommended parole — the sixth time it has done so — California Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to deny the convicted murderer’s early release.