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- Sirhan Sirhan
- Political Assassin
- June, 1968
- Life imprisonment
The arrest of Sirhan Sirhan:
This Palestinian of Jordanian citizenship was convicted in 1968 for killing U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy…
…who was running for President of the United States? In prison ever since, Sirhan Sirhan's serving a life sentence of the Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, California.
Born in British-ruled Jerusalem in 1944 and a strong opponent of Israel, Sirhan told David Frost in 1989 his only connection with Kennedy was RFK's support of Israel and Kennedy's attempt to send 50 bombers to Israel, which Sirhan said would do harm to the Palestinians.
So Sirhan resolved to damage Kennedy instead, and some believe the murder was the first incident of political terrorism in the United States resulting from the Mideast conflict.
On June 5, 1968 while Kennedy was delivering a victory speech in the California primary out in the main ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, danger was lurking in the person of Sirhan.
Staying in the kitchen where Kennedy took a shortcut through the crowd, Sirhan fired four times hitting Kennedy once of the head and twice in the back. A fourth bullet passed through his jacket.
Take a step back in time and note of the change from the crowd's jubilation after the Kennedy speech to the shock and horror when it was learned RFK had been shot.
Sirhan admitted doing it recorded a confession well in police custody, and a long trial followed. Sirhan later recanted his confession, claiming to not remember making it. In February 1969 Sirhan's lawyers made a motion in court to enter a plea of guilty to first-degree murder, in exchange for imprisonment rather than the death penalty.
The judge denied the request and Sirhan was convicted on April 17, 1969 and six days later he was sentenced to death in the gas chamber. But three years later that, his sentenced was commuted to life in prison because of the California Supreme Court's decision that the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment
Sirhan's later repeals were all rejected.
Parole hearings are scheduled every five years. By March 2, 2011 after 42 years in prison, his fourteenth parole hearing was held in which Sirhan was represented by his attorney William Francis Pepper. Sirhan testified that he continues to have no memory of the assassination or any of the details of the trial or confession.
His parole request's repeatedly denied on grounds that Sirhan still doesn't understand the full ramifications of his crime.