State Watch

Newsom denies parole for RFK assassin

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Thursday announced that he will deny parole to Sirhan Sirhan, Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin, saying in a statement the 77-year-old inmate had “failed to address the deficiencies” that led him to commit the crime. 

“Mr. Sirhan’s assassination of Senator Kennedy is among the most notorious crimes in American history,” Newsom said in a statement. “After decades in prison, he has failed to address the deficiencies that led him to assassinate Senator Kennedy.  Mr. Sirhan lacks the insight that would prevent him from making the same types of dangerous decisions he made in the past.”

In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times, Newsom noted that “Sirhan still lacks the insight that would prevent him” from making the sorts of dangerous acts that he made previously, pointing to Kennedy’s assassin shifting his story of what happened and his “current refusal to accept responsibility for it.”

“It is abundantly clear that, because of Sirhan’s lack of insight, his release on parole would pose a threat to public safety,” Newsom wrote.

Angela Berry, an attorney for Sirhan, indicated that that decision would be challenged, saying in a statement that “he serves no threat to society.”

“While I appreciate that the release of Mr. Sirhan presents Governor Newsom with a challenging political calculation, the legal decision for his release is clear and straight-forward. We are confident that the judicial review of the governor’s decision will show that the governor got it wrong,” Berry said.

It was the 16th attempt that Sirhan made at trying to receive parole after he fatally shot Kennedy at the Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel in 1968 after the presidential hopeful gave a speech following a key primary win.

A two-person panel recommended that Sirhan receive parole in August, though it was subject to a final decision by Newsom. Kennedy’s family remains divided over whether Sirhan should be given parole years after his crime, which was committed in 1968.  
 
However, some of Kennedy’s surviving children and his wife applauded the governor’s decision in a joint statement on Thursday.

 
“We are greatly appreciative of the Governor’s consideration of the facts and his faithful application of the law,” Joseph P. Kennedy II, Christopher Kennedy, Courtney Kennedy, Maxwell Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Rory Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy, the wife of Kennedy, said in a joint statement.
 
“His decision represents the vindication of the rule of law over all who would betray it with hatred and violence. By reaffirming that freedom is dependent on responsibility, the Governor protects Californians and people around the world  – and that is in the tradition, and faithful to the legacy, of Robert Kennedy,” they added.
 
Still, others had expressed their support for Sirhan to receive parole in August, including his sons Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
 

“I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face,” Douglas Kennedy said during a proceeding, according to The Associated Press. “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.”

 
Updated at 9:59 p.m.
Tags Gavin Newsom Gavin Newsom RFK Sirhan Sirhan
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