Sirhan Sirhan assassinated the Democratic presidential candidate in June 1968. Kennedy was killed moments after he claimed victory in California’s Democratic presidential primary. Just after he stepped off stage and entered the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel, Sirhan shot the younger brother of John F. Kennedy.
Five others were wounded during the shooting.
The then-24-year-old Palestinian brought an end to Kennedy’s promising life and career, leaving Ethel Kennedy a widow and 11 children without a father.
Sirhan Sirhan was eligible for parole and Governor Newsom, who has cited RFK as his “political hero” said the assassin posed an unreasonable threat to public safety, CBS News reported.
Newsom rejected a recommendation from a two-person panel of parole commissioners.
“Mr. Sirhan’s assassination of Senator Kennedy is among the most notorious crimes in American history,” Newsom wrote in his decision. “After decades in prison, he has failed to address the deficiencies that led him to assassinate Senator Kennedy. Mr. Sirhan lacks the insight that would prevent him from making the same types of dangerous decisions he made in the past.”
Sirhan, now 77, saw his potential release supported by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Douglas Kennedy, who came out to say he should be released before his 16th appearance before the California Parole Board, CNN reported.
However, other family members, including RFK’s widow, Ethel, believed the man who killed her husband belongs behind bars, CNN reported.
Sirhan was greenlit parole in August by the two-person board but ultimately the decision lay in the hands of the Golden State governor.
“The Governor reached his decision based on several factors, including Mr. Sirhan’s refusal to accept responsibility for his crime, lack of insight and accountability required to support his safe release, failure to disclaim violence committed in his name, and failure to mitigate his risk factors,” Newsom’s statement added.
In his statement, Newsom said that the assassination “upended the 1968 presidential election, leaving millions in the United States and beyond mourning the promise of his candidacy.”
“Mr. Sirhan killed Senator Kennedy during a dark season of political assassinations, just nine weeks after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s murder and four and a half years after the murder of Senator Kennedy’s brother, President John F. Kennedy,” he added.
In a landmark 1989 interview with Inside Edition, Sirhan Sirhan from behind bars told then-host David Frost that “I sincerely regret my actions.”
“I was young, I was immature, I was wild … I wish that I could reverse all my actions concerning Robert Kennedy,” Sirhan said.
On June 8, 1968, thousands attended Kennedy’s funeral, including Coretta Scott King and President Lyndon B. Johnson. Outside the church, thousands listened to the service through a loud speaker as Kennedy’s brother, Ted Kennedy, gave a eulogy.
Ted Kennedy said his brother should be remembered as a “good and decent man,” who “saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.”
A funeral train then carried Kennedy’s body from New York to Washington D.C. Along the entire route, thousands paid their respects.
The procession ended at Arlington Cemetery where a brief candlelight ceremony was held.
Kennedy was laid to rest next to his brother, former President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated 1963 while in office.
“What joy he brought us,” Rose Kennedy, Robert Kennedy’s mother, said during a memorial service years later. “What an aching void there is without him. We admired him. We loved him and the world is indeed bleak without him.”
Sirhan, is now up for a new parole hearing no later than February 2023, ABC News reported. He will reportedly ask a judge to overturn Newsom’s denial, defense attorney Angela Berry said, according to ABC News.
“We fully expect that judicial review of the governor’s decision will show that the governor got it wrong,” she said to ABC News.