Robert F. Kennedy’s Assassin Sirhan Sirhan Denied Parole by California Governor

by Jacklyn Krol
Harry Benson, Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy‘s assassin Sirhan Sirhan has been denied parole.

According to AP News, the Governor of California rejected Sirhan’s plea for parole after he spent over half a century behind bars. He famously killed Kennedy back in 1968, an act which the governor called one of America’s “most notorious crimes.”

Governor Gavin Newsom rejected the recommendation which came from two people on the panel of local parole commissioners. Newsom said that the 77-year-old prisoner posed a threat to the general public safety.

“Mr. Sirhan’s assassination of Senator Kennedy is among the most notorious crimes in American history,” Newsom wrote in the official decision.

He noted that it caused “immeasurable suffering” to his then-pregnant wife and ten children. But said it also hurt Americans.

“[His action] upended the 1968 presidential election, leaving millions in the United States and beyond mourning the promise of his candidacy,” he added. “Mr. Sirhan killed Senator Kennedy during a dark season of political assassinations, just nine weeks after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s murder and four and a half years after the murder of Senator Kennedy’s brother, President John F. Kennedy.”

The Murder of Robert F. Kennedy

Sirhan still hasn’t accepted responsibility for the crime, according to Newsom.

“These gaps in Mr. Sirhan’s insight have a close nexus to his current risk of inciting further political violence,” he wrote.

They will schedule his new parole hearing before February of 2023. However, his attorney, Angela Berry said that he will ask a judge to overturn the governor’s denial.

“Not an iota of evidence exists to suggest Mr. Sirhan is still a danger to society,” she said. Berry noted that Newsom overruled the experts and ignored the law.

Sirhan’s Defense

Berry explained the parole commissioners found that he completed an extensive record of rehabilitation, though.

“Since the mid-1980’s Mr. Sirhan has consistently been found by prison psychologists and psychiatrists to not pose an unreasonable risk of danger to the public,” she said.

Robert F. Kennedy, a United States senator from New York, was shot just after he won California’s Democratic presidential primary. Five others were wounded on-site at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Sirhan said that Kennedy was “the hope of the world.” He did not take full responsibility, however, saying he was drunk at the time.

Kennedy’s widow, Ethel, released a statement in support of the ruling. She wrote that her husband’s life “was cut short by an enraged man with a small gun.”

“The political passions that motivated this inmate’s act still simmer today, and his refusal to admit the truth makes it impossible to conclude that he has overcome the evil that boiled over 53 years ago,” the family wrote.