Gary HinmanKay Martley remembers cousin Gary Hinman lowering his lanky, adolescent frame onto a bench and ripping through a classical piano repertoire as he entertained at family gatherings in his Fort Collins home.

It isn't easy to reconcile that vibrant image with the autopsy report describing the multiple knife wounds and decomposing body after the musician became the first known fatality tied to Charles Manson and his followers.

In the 45 years since a knife to the heart ended Hinman's life, California's Board of Parole Hearings on three separate occasions has decided that Manson family member Bruce Davis, who was involved in the murder, was sufficiently rehabilitated to go free.
Each time, a California governor — first Arnold Schwarzenegger, then Jerry Brown — overturned the board decision.

Bruce DavisDavis, 72, remains locked up in the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo, Calif., serving the life sentence a jury gave him 42 years ago, despite his claims of rehabilitation.

That is where he belongs, said Martley, a Denver resident who says she is already dreading another parole hearing next year. She recently asked the parole board to deny Davis' bid for release.

"None of the members of the Manson family should ever be released into society. The horrific way my cousin was murdered should not be forgotten. Gary was brutally tortured for three days, then murdered and his body left to decompose. Parole is not justice for Gary Hinman," Martley wrote in a Nov. 23 letter to the board.

Hinman was a music teacher who moved to California, where he befriended the Manson family. He allowed Davis and others to stay at his home.

California's Board of Parole Hearings recently advised Martley that Davis has asked the board to fast-track his next parole-suitability hearing, which would normally be held no sooner than next September.

Behind bars, Davis earned a Ph.D. in the philosophy of religion, married, fathered a child, divorced, became a born-again Christian and stopped using drugs. Now, he ministers to other prisoners.

"Gary is gone, he has nothing. They took all his privileges away for life. It makes me mad that they let (Davis) get married and have conjugal rights. He is rehabilitated in prison? Let him work with prisoners," she said.

Hinman's death, in July 1969, was a big blow to a family that over four generations had carved a comfortable place for themselves in Colorado.

The fathers of Martley and Hinman formed Hinman Brothers Construction, a company involved in the building of the Platoro Dam in the San Luis Valley in the late 1940s.

Another uncle, Wallace Hinman of Yampa, served in the state legislature.

"The whole family was devastated. We are Coloradans. We didn't have people murdered in our family. We were taxpayers, productive citizens. We owned ranches, businesses. It was unbelievable it could happen to members of our family."

When Martley attended Davis' March parole hearing at the California Men's Colony, it was the first time a member of Hinman's family went to any of Davis' more than 25 such hearings.

Hinman's parents are dead, and a sister who received death threats at the time of the trial stayed away because she didn't want to relive the past, Martley said.

"His sister said, 'I don't want to dig it up. I'm afraid. It was awful at the time of the trial. I don't want anything to do with it,' " Martley recalled.

Debra Tate, sister of Manson family murder victim Sharon Tate, has attended every parole hearing for each of the Manson family members.

"I think there are circumstances where first-degree murder is committed and it is unlikely to reoccur. One does their time and they are very unlikely to go back into a situation where it is likely to repeat," Tate said.

But the members of the Manson family are domestic terrorists and serial murderers, and remain dangerous in spite of their age, Tate said.

"My sister would be 72 in January. I think she would be quite disgusted at the possibility of folks like this getting out," she said.

Davis didn't go on the murderous expedition that the Manson followers made to actress Sharon Tate's home, where they butchered her and four others. Nor was he involved in the killings of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca one day later.

But a Los Angeles jury found him guilty of participating in the murder of both Hinman and movie stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea, who was hacked to death because Manson believed he was an informer.

Three times, the parole board found that Davis made strides toward rehabilitation while in prison and is no longer a threat to society, said Bill Sessa, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Hinman "was a nerdy kid, smart," who played piano and a number of other instruments, Martley said.
In California, he moved into a house in the hills above Los Angeles and got involved in the free-wheeling music scene.

"He had no problems as a kid, but when he got to California, then he got into drugs," Martley said.
Hinman, who was 34 when he was killed, eventually gave up the drugs and became a Buddhist, Martley said.

His Roman Catholic parents decided to take him to Japan, where he could further explore Buddhism, Martley said.

"They felt like they were supporting him since he had cleaned up from drugs," Martley said.
On July 27, 1969, Hinman was stabbed to death.