(Reuters) - A California parole board recommended Thursday that an acolyte of cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson be set free, media reports said.
Manson follower Robert Beausoleil, 71, has served nearly half a century for a conviction in the 1969 slaying of musician Gary Hinman, who was tortured for three days before his death, previous court hearings and news accounts said.
Manson, who died in prison in 2017 at age 83, directed his mostly young, female followers to murder seven people in what prosecutors said was part of a plan to incite a race war between whites and blacks.
Beausoleil was not involved in the so-called Manson Family's most notorious murders, the slaying of actress Sharon Tate and six others, also in 1969. The actress was the pregnant wife of filmmaker Roman Polanski. She was stabbed 16 times by cult members.
Parole panels have ruled against releasing Beausoleil 18 times before, the Associated Press reported.
California's incoming governor, Gavin Newsom, now has the choice of allowing the convicted killer to go free or blocking the panel's decision.
Out-going Gov. Jerry Brown has previously stopped all recommendations of release for Manson Family members, most recently the proposed release of Leslie Van Houten, 69, last January.
Van Houten, at age 19, was the youngest member of the Manson Family and was convicted of taking part in the brutal stabbing deaths of two of the seven homicides attributed to the cult.
The state parole board in Sacramento had not yet released transcripts of its latest hearing on its website and no spokesman was immediately available.
(Reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Nick Macfie)