Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, granted parole with the support of 2 Kennedy – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports


SAN DIEGO (AP) – The assassin of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was granted parole on Friday after two of RFK’s sons spoke out in favor of Sirhan Sirhan’s release and prosecutors refused to claim that he should be kept behind bars.

The decision was a major victory for the 77-year-old prisoner, even if it does not secure his release.

The two-person panel’s decision at Sirhan’s 16th parole hearing will be reviewed over the next 90 days by staff at the California Parole Board. Then it will be sent to the governor, who will have 30 days to decide whether to grant it, cancel it or modify it.

Douglas Kennedy, who was a toddler when his father was shot in 1968, said he was moved to tears by Sirhan’s remorse and should be released if he did not pose a threat to others.

“I am overwhelmed just being able to see Mr. Sirhan face to face,” he said. “I think I’ve lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another. And I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love.

New York Senator and brother of President John F. Kennedy was a Democratic presidential candidate when he was shot on June 6, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles moments after delivering a victory speech during the crucial California primary.

Sirhan, who was convicted of first degree murder, said he did not remember the murder.

His lawyer, Angela Berry, argued that the board should base its decision on who Sirhan is today.

Prosecutors have refused to participate in or oppose his release under a policy of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, a former police officer who took office last year after running for office on a platform for reform.

Gascón, who has said he idolized the Kennedys and mourned the RFK assassination, believes the role of prosecutors ends with sentencing and that they should not influence prisoners’ release decisions.

THIS IS A CURRENT UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

SAN DIEGO (AP) – The youngest son of U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy spoke out in favor of the parole of his father’s killer on Friday in a hearing prosecutors refused to attend for assert that he should be kept behind bars.

Douglas Kennedy, who was a toddler when his father was shot in 1968, said he was moved to tears by Sirhan Sirhan’s remorse and should be released if it turns out he does not pose a threat to others.

“I am overwhelmed just being able to see Mr. Sirhan face to face,” he said. “I think I’ve lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another. And I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love.

Sirhan, who wore a blue prison uniform with a paper towel folded like a handkerchief and tucked away in his pocket, smiled as Kennedy spoke.

Sirhan Sirhan, 77, told members of the California Parole Board during this 16th candidacy for freedom that he had learned to control his anger and pledged to live in peace.

“I would never put myself in danger again,” he said. “You have my commitment. I will always seek security, peace and non-violence.

Some of the Kennedy family, Los Angeles law enforcement officers and the public have submitted letters opposing Sirhan’s release, Parole Board Commissioner Robert Barton said at the start of the proceedings held virtually Friday, where Sirhan appeared from the San Diego County Jail.

“We don’t have a prosecutor here, but I have to consider all sides,” Barton said, noting that he would take into account arguments made in the past by prosecutors opposing his release, depending on their relevance.

Los Angeles County Attorney George Gascón, a former police officer who took office last year after presenting a reform agenda, said he idolized the Kennedys and mourned the RFK assassination, but sticks to its policy that prosecutors do not influence prisoners’ release decisions.

That decision is best left to board members who can assess whether Sirhan has been rehabilitated and can be safely released, Gascón told The Associated Press earlier this year. Challenging a case decades after a crime shouldn’t be the job of prosecutors, even in high-profile cases, he said.

Sirhan served 53 years for the murder of New York Senator and brother of President John F. Kennedy. RFK was a Democratic presidential candidate when he was shot dead at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles moments after delivering a victory speech in the crucial California primary.

Sirhan, a Christian Palestinian from Jordan, admitted that he was angry with Kennedy for his support for Israel.

When asked what he thought of the Middle East conflict today, Sirhan collapsed crying and was temporarily unable to speak.

“Take a deep breath,” said Barton, who noted that the conflict had not gone away and was still hitting a sore spot.

Sirhan said he does not follow what is happening in the region but thinks about the suffering of the refugees.

“The misery these people are experiencing. It’s painful, ”Sirhan said.

If released, Sirhan could be deported to Jordan, and Barton said he feared he would become a “symbol or lightning rod to instigate more violence”.

Sirhan said he was too old to be involved in the Middle East conflict and that he would pull away from it.

“The same argument can be said or made that I can be a peacemaker and a contributor to a friendly, non-violent way of solving the problem,” Sirhan said.

Paul Schrade, who was injured in the shooting, also spoke out in favor of his release.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who has spoken in favor of Sirhan’s release in the past, has written in support of Sirhan’s parole.

Sirhan’s defense attorney Angela Berry said the board’s decision should be based on who Sirhan is today, not past events, which the board has based its parole denials on previously. . She said she planned to focus on his exemplary record in prison and show that he posed no danger.

“We can’t change the past, but he was not given a life sentence without the possibility of parole,” Berry told the AP Thursday. “To justify denying it because of the gravity of the crime and the fact that it deprived millions of Americans of the right to vote is to ignore the rehabilitation that has taken place and that rehabilitation is a more relevant indicator for find out if a person is still a risk to society. “

Sirhan’s hearing was chaired by a two-person panel who usually announces his decision on the same day. After that, parole board staff have 90 days to review the decision, and then it goes to the governor for review.

Sirhan was sentenced to death after his conviction, but that sentence was commuted to life when the California Supreme Court briefly banned capital punishment in 1972. At its last parole hearing in 2016, the commissioners concluded after more of three hours of intense testimony that Sirhan had failed to show adequate remorse or understand the enormity of his crime.

Berry said California laws approved since 2018 supported his case. One of them she plans to report to the board is in favor of releasing some older prisoners who have committed crimes at a young age when the brain is prone to impulsivity. Sirhan was 24 at the time of the assassination.

Barton, the board was required to place “great importance” on the eligibility of young people for parole.

Sirhan has in the past stuck to his story that he doesn’t remember the murder. However, he recalled in detail the events before the crime – going to a shooting range that day, visiting the hotel in search of a party, and returning after realizing he was too drunk. to drive after swallowing Tom Collins cocktails.

Just before the assassination, he drank coffee in a hotel pantry with a woman who attracted him. The next thing he said he remembered was being suffocated and unable to breathe when taken into custody. At his 2016 hearing, he said he felt remorse for any victim of a crime, but could not take responsibility for the shooting.

Sirhan then told the panel that if released he hoped he would be deported to Jordan or live with his brother in Pasadena, California.

After 15 refusals of his release, Berry said it was difficult to predict the impact the absence of the charge would have on the outcome.

“I like to think it will make a difference. But I think not everyone is oblivious to the fact that it is political, ”she said.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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