RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan challenges his parole denial

RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan, 78, asks judge to REVERSE Gov. Newsom’s denial of his parole earlier this year as attorney says ‘there is no evidence he remains dangerous’

  • Sirhan Sirhan, 78, is challenging California Governor Gavin Newsom’s denial of his parole that was issued earlier this year
  • The man was found guilty of killing Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in 1968 after shooting him at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles
  • Sirhan was initially sentenced to death for the shooting, but his sentence was later commuted to life in prison after California outlawed the death penalty
  • In January, Gov. Newsom  said that the man remains a threat to the public 
  • Sirhan’s lawyer argues that he is no longer dangerous after his decades in prison
  • Gov. Newsom maintains that Sirhan has never accepted full responsibility for the shooting death of RFK, as well as the actions that injured several others  

Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, is asking a judge to free him from prison, just months after California Governor Gavin Newsom denied his parole. 

Sirhan’s attorney, Angela Berry, says that there is no evidence that her client is still dangerous, all these years later. 

The man, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from Palestine, has been in jail since he fatally shot RFK in 1968. 

Berry on Friday filed a writ of habeas corpus, asking that a judge reverse Newsom’s decision, as well as rule the California governor’s actions as unlawful. 

78-year-old Sirhan Sirhan has been in prison for more than 53 years since shooting and killing U.S. presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy in 1968

The attorney says that in denying Sirhan parole earlier this year, Newsom violated the state law which says that inmates should be paroled unless they pose a threat to the public.   

In August of 2021, Sirhan was granted parole by a California board after two of RFK’s sons vouched for him, saying that he should get the chance to live after the actions he committed as a young adult. 

Sirhan was 24-years-old at the time of the shooting. 

Throughout the years, the prisoner has maintained that he doesn´t remember the killing or his confession in the days after the incident. 

Robert F. Kennedy just moments after being shot by Sirhan Sirhan inside the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California on June 5, 1968

Newsom said in January that Sirhan remains a threat to the public and hasn´t taken responsibility for a crime that changed American history. 

Kerry Kennedy, one of RFK’s children, thanked Newsom in January for not letting Sirhan out of prison, saying that he has yet to own up to the actions and the problems he created. 

‘This is a man who has shown no remorse, who has shown no ability to take responsibility for his crime and he is a current danger to the people of California and to our country,’ Kerry said in an interview with Good Morning America. 

The man shot Kennedy moments after the U.S. senator from New York claimed victory in California´s pivotal Democratic presidential primary. He wounded five others during the shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles

Robert F. Kennedy smiles just moments before being fatally shot by Sirhan Sirhan 

Berry said she is challenging the governor’s reversal as an ‘abuse of discretion,’ a denial of Sirhan’s constitutional right to due process and as a violation of California law. It also alleges that Newsom misstated the facts in his decision.

Berry said the governor ‘acted with personal bias, incorporated the wrong law, ignored mitigation evidence, and did not afford Sirhan the same rights as others eligible for parole.’

Newsom overruled two parole commissioners who had found that Sirhan no longer was a risk. 

Among other factors, Newsom said the Christian Palestinian who immigrated from Jordan has failed to disclaim violence committed in his name, adding to the risk that he could incite political violence.

Sirhan Sirhan was taken into custody shortly after the shooting in June of 1968

 The ruling split the iconic Kennedy family, with two of RFK´s sons – Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – supporting his release. But RFK´s wife, Ethel Kennedy, and six of Kennedy´s nine surviving children opposed his parole.

Newsom has cited RFK as his political hero and keeps RFK photos in both his official and home offices, including one of Kennedy with his late father. Berry accused him of politicizing the parole process.

Berry accused Newsom of putting his ‘political goals and agenda above that of the Constitution.’

Newsom’s office did not respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom denied Sirhan Sirhan’s parole in January, claiming that the man posed a threat to the public and could incite political violence

Newsom, a Democrat, has in recent months sought more national recognition in calling out Republicans particularly the governors of Florida and Texas. Newsom is running for reelection in November but he also has sparked speculation that he has presidential ambitions, something that he has repeatedly denied.

It’s unclear how quickly a judge might rule on Berry’s petition, and either side could appeal an adverse decision. Sirhan is set for a new parole hearing on March 1.

Sirhan originally was sentenced to death, but that sentence was commuted to life when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed capital punishment in 1972.

The life and death of Robert F. Kennedy

  • Robert Francis Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on November 20, 1925
  • After growing up in New England, RFK spent two years in the U.S. Naval Reserve
  • Upon his return from service, RFK attended Harvard University and later the University of Virginia where he received his law degree
  • In 1952, Robert helped to successfully run his brother John F. Kennedy’s campaign for U.S. Senate
  • During the late 1950s, RFK worked as counsel for various Senate committees before resigning to help run JFK’s presidential campaign
  • From 1961 to 1964, RFK served under his brother as U.S. Attorney General
  • In 1964, RFK was elected to become a U.S. Senator for New York, a role he held until his death
  • On St. Patrick’s Day 1968, the then U.S. senator announced his bid to become the next president
  • Just three months later after successfully clinching the Democratic ticket nomination in California, RFK was shot while walking off a stage at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles 
  • RFK was pronounced dead on June 6, 1968 and was buried in the Arlington National Cemetery
  • On June 9, 1968, Sirhan Sirhan admitted to shooting the U.S. senator
  • In 1969, Sirhan was sentenced to death in California 
  • Three years later, in 1972, Sirhan’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison 

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