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Manson family member's plea for freedom is answered (+video)

Bruce Davis, a former follower of Charles Manson, was sentenced to life in prison in 1972. On Thursday, after 40 years in prison, a panel recommended his parole.   

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Davis has been in prison since being convicted with Manson and another follower, Steve Grogan, in the murders of musician Gary Hinman and stuntman Donald "Shorty" Shea.

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"I'm pleased and relieved and I hope Bruce's ordeal will be over," said attorney Michael Beckman, who has been fighting for years for the release of Davis.

He said an emotional Davis spoke to the panel at length and took responsibility for his role in the killings. Davis also said he tried to do good for other inmates and would continue ministering for troubled souls on the outside, the lawyer said.

If eventually freed, Davis will go to transitional housing associated with religious groups in Los Angeles County.

Davis became a born-again Christian in prison and ministered to other inmates, married a woman he met through the prison ministry, and has a grown daughter. The couple recently divorced.

Beckman said Davis also earned a master's degree and a doctorate in philosophy of religion.

Beckman said his client is totally rehabilitated and meets state requirements for parole. Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Patrick Sequeira opposed his release.

Few followers of the infamous Manson cult have been released from prison. Grogan was freed in 1985 after he led police to Shea's buried body.

Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme was released from federal prison in 2009 after serving time for the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford.

Manson and two of his followers, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel, remain in prison for life in the Tate killings. Their co-defendant, Susan Atkins, died of cancer behind bars in 2009. Another of the Tate killers, Charles "Tex" Watson, remains in prison.

RECOMMENDED: Why Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denied bail to Bruce Davis

Associated Press Writer Don Thompson in Sacramento contributed to this report.

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