California’s governor on Thursday refused to release Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin Sirhan Sirhan from prison more than half a century after the 1968 murder left a deep wound in America’s darkest time.
Governor Gavin Newsom, who called RFK his political hero and acknowledged the historical significance of his decision, rejected a recommendation by a two-person panel of parole commissioners. Newsom said Sirhan, now 77, poses an undue threat to public safety.
“The assassination of Mr. Sirahan, Senator Kennedy, is one of the most infamous crimes in American history,” Newsom wrote in his ruling. “After decades in prison, he has failed to address the shortcomings that led him to assassinate Senator Kennedy. Mr. Sirhan lacks the insight that would prevent him from making the same dangerous decisions he had made in the past. had done.”
He included factors in his decision, including Sirhan’s refusal to accept responsibility for his crime, his lack of insight and the accountability needed to support his safe release, his refusal to commit violence in his name. failure and their failure to reduce their risk factors.
Sirhan will be scheduled for a new parole hearing after February 2023.
His defense attorney, Angela Berry, said Sirhan would ask a judge to overturn Newsom’s denial.
“We sincerely hope that a judicial review of the governor’s decision will show that the governor has done it wrong,” she said.
State law mandates that prisoners be placed on parole unless they pose an existing unreasonable public safety risk, he said, to suggest that “Mr Sirhan still poses a threat to society.” There is not even a single piece of evidence.”
The parole commissioners found Sirhan fit for release “because of his impressively extensive record of rehabilitation over the last half-century,” she said. “Since the mid-1980s Mr Sirhan has been consistently found by prison psychologists and psychiatrists to not take an unreasonable risk of danger to the public.”
US Senator Kennedy from New York was shot moments after claiming victory in California’s key Democratic presidential primary. Five others were injured during the murder at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
His brother, President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in 1963.
In August a parole panel’s recommendation to release Sirhan divided the Kennedy family, with RFK’s two sons – Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – supporting his release. But six of Kennedy’s nine surviving children and RFK’s wife, Ethel Kennedy, urged Newsom to block his parole.
The panel’s decision was based on several new California laws since he was denied parole in 2016 – the 15th time he has lost his bid for release.
The commissioners were required to consider that Sirhan had committed his crime at a young age of 24; that he is now old; And that Christian Palestinians who immigrated from Jordan had childhood trauma from conflict in the Middle East.
In addition, Los Angeles County prosecutors did not object to his parole, following District Attorney George Gascon’s policy that prosecutors should not be involved in deciding whether prisoners are ready for release.
Sirhan was originally sentenced to death, but that sentence was commuted to life when the California Supreme Court briefly stayed the death penalty in 1972.
His lawyer, Berry, said he now has heart disease and has survived a 2019 attack from prostate cancer, valley fever and another inmate.
Munir Sirhan has said that his elder brother could live with him if he was freed and not sent to Jordan. Sirhan Sirhan waived his right to fight exile.