California governor rejects parole for RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday refused to parole Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted of assassinating Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles in June 1968.

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Sirhan assassinated Kennedy in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on the night of June 5, 1968, moments after the senator from New York -- and the younger brother of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in November 1963 -- won the Democratic primary in California, a key race in the run for the party’s nomination.

Kennedy died the next day. He was 42.

In August, a two-person state parole panel recommended Sirhan’s parole, the Los Angeles Times reported. Two of Kennedy’s children had advocated Sirhan’s release, the newspaper reported.

It was the 16th time Sirhan, 77, had appeared before a parole board.

“Mr. Sirhan’s assassination of Sen. 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 Sen. Kennedy. Mr. Sirhan lacks the insight that would prevent him from making the same types of dangerous decisions he made in the past.”

>> Parole recommended for RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan

Kennedy, who represented New York in the U.S. Senate, championed civil rights and campaigned to end America’s involvement in the Vietnam War, according to the Times. After Kennedy was assassinated, Vice President Hubert Humphrey won the Democratic nomination but lost to Republican Richard Nixon.

Sirhan had originally been sentenced to death for the murder, but California abolished capital punishment in 1972. At that point, Sirhan’s sentence was reduced to life in prison, the The Washington Post reported.

In a statement, members of the Kennedy family said they were “deeply grateful” and thanked Newsom for his “courageous commitment to justice.”

Sirhan, 24 at the time of the assassination, was a Palestinian immigrant who wrote a manifesto calling for Robert Kennedy’s death, the Times reported.

Between 1983 and 2006, Sirhan was granted parole hearings every one to two years. Beginning in 2016 the hearings were held two times per decade, the newspaper reported.