Assassin of RFK, Sirhan Sirhan, Challenges His Parole Denial
The assassin is 78 and believes he’s no threat to society.
Governor Newsom denied Sirhan parole after more than 50 years.
Attorney for Sirhan says denial violates state law.
The original death sentence was commuted to life in 1972.
(NewsReady.com) – Few names are as memorable as Sirhan Sirhan. At just 24 years old, the Palestinian immigrant shot and killed Senator Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY) minutes after the young politician sealed a win in the essential California Democratic presidential primary. That fateful moment in the kitchen of LA’s Ambassador Hotel likely changed history. At 78, the aging assassin believes he’s no longer a threat to society, appealing his latest parole denial to a California court on constitutional grounds. However, Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) shows no signs of authorizing Sirhan’s parole anytime soon.
The Constitutional Question
California’s state constitution requires parole for prisoners who pose no risk to themselves or others. Additionally, statutes also mandate a potential parolee’s age at the time of the crime come into consideration. It’s been 54 years since that event. Attorney Angela Berry, who represents the elderly killer, filed a writ of habeas corpus claiming not only do the facts warrant Sirhan’s release, but that Governor Newsom violated her client’s rights and acted with bias and for personal reasons.
According to NBC News, Berry accused Newsom of holding a personal grudge against Sirhan, failing to provide him with the same parole process afforded to other inmates. The governor’s decision overruled two commissioners who deemed the parole applicant eligible, as he was no longer a threat.
Governor Newsom didn’t just reverse the decision to release Sirhan; he dug in and defended it, penning an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times. In the piece, Newsom laid out his reasoning for denying the man parole after so long by pointing out not only did he take a great leader from the American people, but he also took a father from 11 children and a husband from a wife.
The Family Split
The Kennedy family doesn’t have a consensus on the issue. Two of the senator’s children, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Douglas Kennedy, want to see Sirhan freed. The rest want him in prison forever, as does his widow, Ethel Kennedy.
Initially, Sirhan Sirhan went to death row. In 1972, when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed capital punishment, his sentence was commuted to life. Some might consider the fact he’s still breathing leniency enough.
What do you think? Should RFK’s murderer go free, or should he stay in prison for the rest of his days?
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