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Charles Manson 'Family' Member Convicted Of Murder May Soon Be Freed

Robert Beausoleil tortured and murdered musician Gary Hinman in 1969. Now, after serving nearly 50 years, he's been recommended for parole.

By Eric Shorey

Charles Manson's cult terrorized Hollywood in the 1960s. Now, decades later, a member of the infamous Manson Family may be released from prison.

A parole panel in California recommended Thursday that Robert Beausoleil, now 71, be set free after serving nearly 50 years for the 1969 murder of musician Gary Hinman, who he'd tortured alongside Manson. Beausoleil had originally been sentenced to death in 1970 but that was reduced to life imprisonment in 1972 when the California Supreme Court ruled the state's death penalty unconstitutional.

Beausoleil had been denied parole 18 times in the past.

Debra Tate, the sister of murdered actress Sharon Tate, has been outspoken about her opposition to the new recommendation and plans on launching a social media campaign to call attention to the threat Beausoleil potentially represents. She's specifically urging citizens to contact California's incoming governor, Gavin Newsom, who has the power to block the parole.

Tate, who emphasized Beausoleil's rule-breaking proclivities pertaining to the sale of his art in prison, is encouraging Californians to "make their feelings known to Gov.-elect Newsom, because he has a tendency to be very liberal. Without public opinion weighing in on this, there is no hope."

Newsom has not yet commented on Beausoleil's situation.

Joining Tate in opposition to the recommendation is Kay Hinman Martley, the cousin of Gary Hinman, who attended Beausoleil's hearing with Tate.

"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," said Martley, adding she also plans to tell Newsom that "this man does not belong outside the walls of prison."

Beausoleil's lawyer, Jason Campbell, maintains that his client is no longer dangerous.

"He is a very thoughtful, insightful and compassionate person. He's not the person he was in 1969," Campbell said. "He's matured dramatically since then."

Beausoleil is currently being held at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California. A musician who notably contributed to the soundtrack of Kenneth Anger's influential film "Lucifer Rising" before his incarceration, Beausoleil has made six albums while serving time.

"I don't think it was ever a decision that had to be made because it was in me to make music. I was born to it," Beausoleil told Vice in 2015. "It was just a matter of putting myself into a position where I could make music again."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

[Photo: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation]