RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan returns for 16th parole hearing
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Nearly two years ago, a California parole board voted to release the Robert F. Kennedy assassin, but the decision was later overturned by the governor.
Sirhan Sirhan will appear again before the board at a hearing at a federal prison in San Diego County on Wednesday asking for his release.
Even if the board decides Sirhan can be released a second time, his attorney Angela Berry said she doesn’t expect that to change Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mind because of his “affinity with RF Kennedy,” which Newsom has cited as a political hero.
That’s why she’s turning to the courts, she said. The parole board hearing comes nearly six months after Berry asked a Los Angeles County judge to do so Undo Newsom’s denial. The case is not yet closed.
Newsom objected to Sirhan’s freedom in 2022, saying that he remains a threat to the public and took no responsibility for a crime that changed American history.
Berry said the 78-year-old man, who has served more than 54 years in prison, is not a danger to society and should be released. She said that will be the main point that she and Sirhan will bring back to the board.
“They found him eligible for release last time and nothing has changed,” Berry said. “He has continued to show great behavior.”
In a 3 1/2 minute message played during a Berry press conference in September, Sirhan said he regrets his actions every day. It was the first time since a televised parole hearing in 2011 that Sirhan’s voice was heard publicly before California banned audio or visual recordings of such proceedings.
“To turn that weight into something positive, I’ve dedicated my life to self-improvement, mentoring others in prison on how to live a peaceful life centered around non-violence,” he said. “It’s a way of making sure that no one else becomes a victim of my actions again and hopefully influencing others.”
Sirhan shot Kennedy shortly after the US Senator from New York won California’s crucial 1968 Democratic presidential primary. He injured five others during the shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Sirhan was originally sentenced to death, but the sentence was commuted to life when the California Supreme Court briefly banned the death penalty in 1972.
He was denied parole 15 times, until 2021, when the board recommended his release.
Sirhan’s younger brother, Munir Sirhan, has said his brother can live with him in Pasadena, California if he is paroled. Sirhan Sirhan has waived his right to fight deportation to his native Jordan.
Berry filed a 53-page incarceration review asking the judge to rule that Newsom violated state law, which says inmates should be released on parole unless they pose a currently unreasonable risk represents public safety. Recent California laws also required the parole board to consider that Sirhan committed the offense at a young age – 24 – and that he is now a senior prisoner.
She objects to the governor’s reversal as “abuse of powers,” a denial of Sirhan’s constitutional right to due process, and a violation of California law. She also alleges that Newsom misrepresented the facts in his decision.
Newsom’s office declined to comment.
Newsom overruled two parole officers who had determined Sirhan was no longer a risk. Among other things, Newsom said the Christian Palestinian immigrant from Jordan failed to deny the violence committed in his name, raising the risk that he could spark political unrest.
The regulation split the Kennedy family, with RFK’s wife Ethel Kennedy and six of Kennedy’s nine surviving children defying his parole. A lawyer representing these family members is expected to present his arguments against his release at the hearing
https://news.yahoo.com/rfk-assassin-sirhan-sirhan-returns-053234497.html RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan returns for 16th parole hearing