The assassin of Robert F. Kennedy on Friday was granted parole by a two-person panel, a major win for the 77-year-old man who received the support of two of the former senator’s sons, The Associated Press reported.
It is the 16th time that Sirhan Sirhan has attempted to receive parole after killing the former New York senator and Democrat presidential hopeful in 1968. Kennedy had just finished giving a speech after an important primary win in California when he was fatally shot at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel.
One of the senator's sons, Douglas Kennedy, signaled that he favored his father’s assassin receiving parole during a proceeding held on Friday, the AP noted.
“I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face,” Douglas Kennedy said, according to the wire service. “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.”
Another son, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., has also signaled that he supports parole for Sirhan.
“As you may know, I have been a strong advocate for the release of Mr. Sirhan B. Sirhan since I learned of evidence that was not presented to the court during his trial,” Kennedy Jr. wrote to the parole board, according to The Washington Post.
However, the ruling does not mean that Sirhan will necessarily be released just yet as the staff of the California Parole Board must review the panel’s decision over the next 90 days, according to the AP. Following the review, California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomDon't break California's recall by 'fixing' it Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Altria — Walrus detectives: Scientists recruit public to spot mammal from space Top Latino group endorses Padilla for full Senate term MORE (D) will have the chance to decide if the parole will be granted or not.
Some had spoken against the possibility of Sirhan being released from prison prior to his parole hearing. Letters from the public said they were opposed to Sirhan receiving parole, and several family members of Kennedy's in addition to law enforcement officials had said they were against the move as well, the AP noted.
During the proceeding, Sirhan said he has changed since the incident, though he has previously said he does not remember committing the crime.
“I would never put myself in jeopardy again,” Sirhan said, according to the AP. “You have my pledge. I will always look to safety and peace and non-violence.”
Updated: 6:40 p.m.