Parole denied for RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan

RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan.
RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan. Contributor via Getty Images

A California prison board on Wednesday denied parole for Sirhan Sirhan, the man who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.

The parole board in Sacramento felt that Sirhan "still lacks insight into what caused him to shoot" Kennedy, and had not adequately expressed his remorse for doing so, The Associated Press reports. Their decision comes even as psychiatrists have said the 78-year-old Sirhan would likely not be a danger to anyone anymore.

Sirhan was convicted of shooting and killing Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968. Kennedy, the brother of former President John F. Kennedy, was a U.S. senator and candidate for president that year. At the time of his death, Kennedy was the likely shoo-in for the Democratic nomination, and BBC News says "his unique political talents could have taken him to the presidency."

Sirhan has been behind bars ever since. He has been denied parole numerous times, often refusing to take responsibility for Kennedy's death. He was finally granted parole in 2021, in part due to his advanced age. But California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) circumvented the parole board's decision and denied Sirhan's release in 2022, writing in the Los Angeles Times that "because of Sirhan's lack of insight, his release on parole would pose a threat to public safety." He also said Sirhan "remains a potent symbol of political violence."

Lawyers for Sirhan argued that Newsom's previous denial had unfairly influenced the parole board's decision on Wednesday, claiming the board "bent to the political whim of the governor." A state court is currently considering a motion to reverse Newsom's denial, though the effect this latest decision could have on that case is unclear.

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