Los Angeles Politics

Sirhan Sirhan, RFK killer, denied parole by California board

Sirhan Sirhan was again denied parole Wednesday, 55 years after he shot and killed presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles.

The latest denial by a California board in San Diego comes after Sirhan was found suitable for parole by a two-person parole panel in 2021, but the decision was reversed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

In an op-ed published in The Times in January 2022, Newsom wrote that Sirhan, who fatally shot Kennedy and wounded five others at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968, remained a threat to the public.

Sirhan’s attorney, Angela Berry, said Wednesday’s denial by the two-person parole board was influenced by Newsom’s stringent opposition to the 78-year-old’s release.

The decision “suggests that they kowtowed to the political whims of the governor,” Berry said in an interview with The Times.

“It didn’t go as planned,” Berry said.

At Wednesday’s hearing, several people spoke against Sirhan’s release, including members of the Kennedy family and its attorney, Berry said.

“We didn’t have the presence of Paul Schrade this year. [He] was the last surviving victim who was in favor of parole,” Berry said.

Schrade, who died in November, had repeatedly advocated for Sirhan’s release and believed that more than one gunman was involved in the shooting.

Schrade’s sister, Louise “Weezie” Stone Duff, did speak Wednesday in favor of Sirhan’s release, Berry said.

Berry said she was unsure of what the next steps will be taken on Sirhan’s behalf.

An appeal of Newsom’s parole denial is making its way through the court, and Berry said she is reluctant to file another appeal of Wednesday’s denial.

“The argument would be … [Sirhan] was found suitable, and there’s been nothing in the intervening year and a half that would suggest that he has taken a downward spiral to make him unsuitable,” Berry said.

“Yet they came to a contrary decision that is not supported by the record,” Berry added.

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Joseph Hernandez

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