Panel denies parole to Sirhan, assassin of Robert F. Kennedy

Sacramento Bee

For the 15th time, officials denied parole for Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, after hearing Wednesday from another person who was shot that night and called for Sirhan’s release.

The decision came after Sirhan answered questions from a California parole panel during a hearing that lasted more than three hours in a small, windowless conference room.

Commissioners concluded Sirhan did not show adequate remorse or understand the enormity of his crime.

“This crime impacted the nation, and I daresay it impacted the world,” commissioner Brian Roberts said. “It was a political assassination of a viable Democratic presidential candidate.”

During the hearing, the 71-year-old Sirhan stuck to his previous account that he did not remember the shooting in 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after Kennedy won the Democratic presidential primary in California.

He said he recalled being in the hotel then going to his car and returning after realizing he had too much to drink. He said he became interested in a female and they drank coffee in a hotel pantry.

“It’s all vague now,” Sirhan told the parole panel. “I’m sure you all have it in your records, I can’t deny it or confirm it, I just wish this whole thing had never taken place.”

Sirhan, a native of Jerusalem, listened intently during most of the hearing, turning testy when commissioners pressed him on his memory. He said he felt remorse for any crime victim but added that he couldn’t take responsibility for the shooting.

“If you want a confession, I can’t make it now,” Sirhan said. “Legally speaking, I’m not guilty of anything. … It’s not that I’m making light of it. I’m responsible for being there.”

Sirhan said incriminating statements he made at trial were the result of an ineffective defense attorney who pressured him into thinking he was guilty.

Paul Schrade, 91, told the panel that he believes Sirhan shot him at the hotel but an unidentified second shooter killed Kennedy.

Schrade was alongside the candidate when five people were injured in the June 5 shooting. Schrade was shot in the head.

Schrade pleaded for the release of Sirhan at the hearing and apologized to him for not doing more over the years to secure his freedom.

Schrade’s voice broke with emotion at times during his hour of testimony that recounted his efforts to unravel questions about the shooting.

“I forgive you for shooting me,” Schrade told Sirhan. “I should have been here long ago and that’s why I feel guilty for not being here to help you and to help me.”

The two men faced each other for the first time since Schrade testified at Sirhan’s 1969 trial.

Schrade was western regional director of the United Auto Workers Union and labor chair of Kennedy’s campaign at the time of the shooting.

On Wednesday, Sirhan nodded politely each time Schrade sought his forgiveness.

Schrade showed flashes of anger against Roberts, who admonished him for violating protocol by addressing Sirhan directly.

Schrade also criticized a representative of the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office for making what Schrade called a “venomous” statement against the release of Sirhan.

Roberts at one point asked Schrade to wrap up his presentation, saying “quite frankly, you’re losing us.”

“I think you have been lost for a long time,” Schrade shot back.

Earlier in the hearing, the commissioner asked if anyone wanted a break. Schrade spoke up from the audience and said, “no I want this to get over, I find it very abusive.”

Retired Deputy District Attorney David Dahle argued at the hearing for the district attorney’s office.

“The prisoner has still not come to grips with what he has done,” Dahle told the panel.

Sirhan is serving a life sentence that was commuted from death when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed capital punishment in 1972.

In one of many emotional outbursts during his 1969 trial, Sirhan blurted out that he had committed the crime with 20 years of malice aforethought.

That and his declaration when arrested, “I did it for my country,” were his only relevant comments before he said he didn’t remember shooting Kennedy.

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

His hope, he said, was “just to live out my life peacefully, in harmony with my fellow man.”

“This is such a traumatic experience, it’s a horrendous experience that for me to keep dwelling on it is harmful to me,” Sirhan said.

As Sirhan left the hearing, Schrade shouted, “Sirhan, I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It’s my fault.”

Sirhan tried to shake his hand but a guard prevented it.

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5 thoughts on “Panel denies parole to Sirhan, assassin of Robert F. Kennedy

  1. Omygod. I thought this dude was dead.
    Look at all the people he outlived.
    Like Easy E and Robin Williams. .. Rowdy Roddy Piper.
    Well I guess that’s why call him an AssAss in.

  2. They will never let a bona fide Manchurian Candidate out into the “real world”.
    He could actually talk to some real alternative media and the suspicions around the case would produce a real backlash…oh…I’m sorry…I drifted off and was dreaming about a logical world that follows the rule of law for everyone. It must have been a nightmare.
    Nearly every political assassin in history is proud of their accomplishment and want to be admired for their deed.
    I believe that this guy still says he doesn’t remember what happened.
    Polka dot dress lady? Cop with the same gun? All evidence destroyed?
    The Kennedy’s really must have really pissed off organized crime/Jews.
    What? Oh, that’s the same thing.
    In other words, SOP.
    And, I believe, he still says he didn’t do it.
    That’s incredibly rare for a prominent political assassin.
    I could be wrong. But that’s what I’ve learned.

    As an aside, I took my graduate exams in the ballroom where RFK gave his last speech. I glanced into the kitchen, through the doors, before I left, just to see what was there. Hey, I was naive to the ways of the world back then…1984. 1984. Wow. Is that a coincidence? LOL
    I believe it’s all torn down now.

  3. Amazing. Over 50 years later and they still won’t tell us what really happened for both Kennedy murders nor will they ever let these patsies see the light of day. I find it funny how they can’t even tell us the truth of it all. Would it really matter in this day in age with the amount of sheeple out there?

    It seems like this puppet government has gotten away with a lot worse that the truth of it all will not be a shock to anyone, especially when everyone has gotten used to the shock of our foreign government in occupation doing whatever it wants anyways.

    Like CaptainObvious said, “The Kennedy’s really must have really pissed off organized crime/Jews” to have this whole charade go on this long. It’s ridiculous. They will just not let it go.

  4. Let’s see Oswald didn’t kill Kennedy, James E. Ray didnt kill Martin L. King, Sirhlan didn’t kill Bobby, Osama didn’t blow up or down the WTC comples, I sure would love to know who did and see them punished. These poor men have suffered terribly and no one gives a damn. Sad.

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