A California parole panel on Thursday recommended for the first time that Charles Manson follower Robert Beausoleil be freed after serving nearly a half-century in prison for murder, the AP reports. Beausoleil, 71, was not involved in the most notorious killings of actress Sharon Tate and six others by the Manson Family in 1969. He was convicted in the slaying of musician Gary Hinman that same year. Hinman was tortured for three days, according to testimony at previous parole hearings, including when Manson cut his face with a sword. Parole panels ruled against releasing Beausoleil 18 prior times.
California's incoming governor, Gavin Newsom, could block the parole in coming months. Termed-out Gov. Jerry Brown has consistently stopped releases for followers of the cult leader, who died in prison in 2017. Gary Hinman's cousin, Kay Hinman Martley, who attended Thursday's hearing, said Beausoleil was already lucky once when his death sentence in 1970 was reduced to life in prison by an appeals court in 1973. "I constantly have hope that they'll do the right thing and keep these people in prison, and now my hopes have to go with the governor," she says, adding she plans to reach out to Newsom to tell him "this man does not belong outside the walls of prison." (Manson's youngest follower was denied parole last year.)