California Governor Gavin Newsom denied parole to Sirhan Sirhan Thursday, the now 77-year-old man convicted of assassinating Senator Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles in 1968.
Sirhan shot Senator Kennedy and five bystanders in June 1968. While the bystanders survived their injuries, Senator Kennedy did not. A jury found Sirhan guilty of first-degree murder and five counts of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill. He was sentenced to death in May 1969, which was later modified to life imprisonment with a possibility of parole due to a change in the law.
The Board of Parole Hearings conducted Sirhan’s sixteenth hearing in August and found him suitable for parole. However, Governor Newsom conducted a thorough review of Sirhan’s case and concluded that he is unsuitable for parole due to his current threat to public safety.
Newsom concluded that Sirhan failed to address the deficiencies that caused him to kill Senator Kennedy despite spending decades in prison. Newsom further said that Sirhan lacks the insight that would keep him from repeating the dangerous decisions he made in the past. This is because of his “shifting narrative about his assassination of Senator Kennedy, and his current refusal to accept responsibility for his crimes.”
Newsom examined Sirhan’s past statements to conclude that he has inconsistently described his role in the assassination, which raise his current risk level. In addition, Sirhan has failed to express any regret for the political violence that he perpetrated. Newsom also said that Sirhan has not demonstrated an understanding of the risks that his political assassination created. Moreover, Newsom stated that Sirhan’s diminished physical strength does not reduce the threat to public safety that he continues to pose, including the risk that he may incite political violence if released on parole.
Following Governor Newsom’s decision, Kennedy’s wife and six of her children said: “We are grateful to California Governor Gavin Newsom, and deeply relieved by his decision today to deny parole to the killer of Robert F. Kennedy.”