Robert F. Kennedy’s Assassin Recommended for Parole After 16th Attempt

The news comes during Sirhan’s 16th parole attempt in half a century, as the California Parole Board’s staff has 120 days to review the the panel decision.

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Sirhan B. Sirhan, the man who was convicted of assassinating Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in a 1968 shooting, has been found suitable for parole by a panel, with his fate hanging in the hands of the governor of California

The news comes during Sirhan’s 16th parole attempt in half a century, as the the California Parole Board’s staff has 120 days to review and the governor has 30 to accept the decision—which was made by a two-person panel. 

The video hearing in front of a commissioner and deputy commissioner took place at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego over 50 years after the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office prosecuted Sirhan in 1969. The Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón’s office has declined to participate in post-sentencing decisions  involving parole. 

“The role of a prosecutor and their access to information ends at sentencing,” said Alex Bastian, special advisor to Gascón, according to NBC News. “The parole board however has all the pertinent facts and evaluations at their disposal, including how someone has conducted themselves over the last few decades in prison. The parole board’s sole purpose is to objectively determine whether someone is suitable for release.”

The district attorney’s office was not present at the hearing, which the president of the California District Attorney’s Association said was “disgraceful.”

“This is one of the most notorious political assassinations in U.S. history and the killer is being considered for release without benefit of a representative on behalf of the people of California,” said Vern Pierson, the associations’s president and the D.A. of El Dorado County.

Six of RFK’s nine surviving children—Joseph P. Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Christopher G. Kennedy, Maxwell T. Kennedy and Rory Kennedy—said in a statement that their father’s murder was “a crime against our nation” and that they opposed the decision. Two other sons of RFK—Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and writer Douglas Kennedy—said they supported the parole, the Associated Press reports. 

“As children of Robert F. Kennedy, we are devastated that the man who murdered our father has been recommended for parole,” the six kids said in a statement. “Our father’s death is a very difficult matter for us to discuss publicly and for the past many decades we have declined to engage directly in the parole process. We urge the Parole Board staff, the full Board, and ultimately, Governor Newsom, to reverse this initial recommendation.”

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