After spending 53 years in prison, and appearing for a total of 16 parole hearings, Sirhan Sirhan is one step closer to freedom. California’s parole board has voted to free him after two of Robert F. Kennedy's living sons said they supported the 77-year-old man's release.
Trigger warning: This story contains details of murder that may be disturbing to readers.
On June 5, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy won the California presidential primary, at the Ambassador Hotel, in Los Angeles. Soon after announcing his win to his followers, he was shot multiple times by a Palestinian named Sirhan Sirhan, according to History. He revealed that was infuriated by Kennedy's support for Israel.
Sirhan, who insists he doesn’t remember the shooting and had been drinking alcohol just beforehand, was convicted of first-degree murder and received a death sentence, in 1969, per AP. However, in 1972, his sentence was commuted to life when the California Supreme Court outlawed capital punishment briefly.
JUST IN: Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted of assassinating Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, has been granted parole after serving more than 50 years in prison https://t.co/7eQbQyY8X3— CNN (@CNN) August 27, 2021
Now, after spending 53 years in prison, and appearing for a total of 16 parole hearings, the former assassin is one step closer to freedom. California’s parole board has voted to free him after two of Robert F. Kennedy's living sons—Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.— said they supported the 77-year-old man's release.
But, the final decision lies in the hands of California Governor Gavin Newsom. The ruling will first be reviewed over a period of 120 days by the board’s staff. It will then be sent to the governor, who will have a month to decide whether to grant, reverse, or modify it. If Sirhan is granted parole, he will have to live in a transitional home for six months, and enroll in an alcohol abuse program, and get therapy alongside.
6 of Robert F. Kennedy's Children Say They Are 'Devastated' Father's Killer Was Granted Parole https://t.co/uwHKliy4ee— People (@people) August 28, 2021
But, as reported by PEOPLE, six of his nine surviving children— siblings Kerry Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy, Christopher G. Kennedy, Maxwell T. Kennedy, and Rory Kennedy— released a statement, in which they wrote how they are "devastated" by the decision. They are now urging Gov. Newsom to reverse the decision and keep Sirhan behind bars.
"As children of Robert F. Kennedy, we are devastated that the man who murdered our father has been recommended for parole," the statement from the siblings read. "Our father's death is a very difficult matter for us to discuss publicly and for the past many decades we have declined to engage directly in the parole process."
Please read and share statement from my family regarding today’s recommendation of parole for Sirhan Sirhan. pic.twitter.com/60klc1fHxU— Rory Kennedy (@roryekennedy) August 28, 2021
"We adamantly oppose the parole and release of Sirhan Sirhan and are shocked by a ruling that we believe ignores the standards for parole of a confessed, first-degree murderer in the state of California," they continued. "Our father's death impacted our family in ways that can never adequately be articulated and today's decision by a two-member parole board has inflicted enormous additional pain."
As the statement continued, the siblings wrote that they are "in disbelief that this man would be recommended for release." They added that they hope everyone else who was shocked by the death of their father would stand by their decision. They concluded their statement by sharing: "It is a recommendation we intended to challenge every step of the way, and we hope that those who also hold the memory of our father in their hearts will stand with us."
The man convicted of shooting and killing Senator Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 may be one step closer to being released from prison. Sirhan Sirhan, who has served 53 years of a life sentence, was granted parole https://t.co/wrxdQ3t8kQ— Andreas Harsono (@andreasharsono) August 29, 2021
Do you think Sirhan should be released or spend more time behind bars?
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Harry Benson