Sirhan Sirhan Has Served 53 Years For Killing Robert F. Kennedy. Soon He May Be Free

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Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968, was up for parole on Aug. 27.

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Sirhan, 77, was convicted of the murder in 1969 and sentenced to death. In 1972 the California Supreme Court ruled capital punishment to be unconstitutional, and Sirhan was resentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

The shooting occurred in the kitchen area of the Ambassador Hotel. Kennedy had just given a victory speech for winning California’s Democratic presidential primary and looked likely to win the party’s nomination. He and five other people were shot as they made their way through the hotel kitchen.

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Sen. Robert Kennedy on an airplane during his presidential election tour in 1968.

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«Getting him out of the picture means that we have a better chance of making the case,» Schrade says. «We can get the second gunman identified and convicted — the second gunman killed Robert Kennedy!»

But the parole board ruling is not intended as an endorsement of the second gunman theory.

At the hearing, the Associated Press reported that Douglas Kennedy spoke about being moved by the remorse shown by Sirhan over his father’s killing.

«I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view 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.»

This was his 16th time trying to get parole

Sirhan tried and failed to get parole 15 times before, with the last hearing in 2016. But this time around, there was no opposition from the new Los Angeles District Attorney, George Gascon, whose office has a policy of not weighing in against parole.

Also working in Sirhan’s favor this time were changes to California law in recent years that make it easier for a prisoner to get parole for a crime committed at a young age. Sirhan was 24 when he shot Kennedy.

If Sirhan is released, he may face deportation to Jordan. A Palestinian refugee from Israel, he immigrated to the U.S. as a child and never obtained U.S. citizenship.

  • RFK
  • Sirhan B. Sirhan
  • Robert Kennedy

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