Robert Kennedy

Sirhan Sirhan Prepares For Fifteenth Parole Hearing

Sirhan Sirhan is preparing for his fifteenth parole hearing, which will take place on Wednesday. Although it is unclear if he will speak during the hearing, the convicted killer confirmed, through a representative, that he will appear before the parole board.

Sirhan Sirhan was charged and convicted in the June 1968 shooting death of Senator Robert Kennedy. Although he was originally sentenced to death, the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1972 — when the California Supreme Court declared capital punishment unconstitutional.

A native of Jerusalem, Sirhan emigrated to the United States with his family in 1956. Twelve years later, he became the primary suspect in the assassination of US senator and presidential hopeful Robert Francis Kennedy.

In the early morning hours of June 5, 1968, numerous witnesses observed Sirhan opening fire on Kennedy, who was being escorted through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California.

Although he survived just over 24 hours, Senator Robert Kennedy died at Good Samaritan Hospital on June 6. Sirhan Sirhan was subsequently arrested and charged with premeditated murder.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the 24-year-old man to plan and carry out the assassination. The motive was further clouded by Sirhan Sirhan’s instance that he had no memory of the attack.

In the months following the assassination, the suspect confessed to shooting and killing Senator Robert Kennedy. However, he never disclosed a motive. Sirhan later denied making the confession.

Despite eyewitness reports, the lack of apparent motive led to numerous conspiracy theories.

The Mary Ferrell Foundation reports some people believe Sirhan was essentially “programmed to shoot RFK and then fail to recall who put him up to it.” Others believe the suspect had at least one accomplice, including a second shooter.

Supporters of the second shooter theory insist a total of 13 shots were fired, despite the fact that Sirhan Sirhan’s.22 caliber Iver-Johnson Cadet revolver only held eight bullets. They also argue that “the fatal shot appeared to come from behind Kennedy while Sirhan faced him.”

Sirhan’s own diaries indicate he was solely responsible for Senator Robert Kennedy’s brutal death. The entries also appear to prove premeditation. The phrases “RFK must die” and “Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated” were specifically chilling — as they were repeated numerous times. However, Sirhan insists he has no memory of keeping the diaries.

Sirhan Sirhan’s apparent memory loss and unusual behavior contributed to a lengthy, and often bizarre trial. Nevertheless, he was convicted of premeditated murder on April 17, 1969. Six days later he was sentenced to death.

Although the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1972, Sirhan will remain in prison until the parole board orders his release.

In the years following his conviction, Sirhan suggested he blamed Senator Robert Kennedy for his support of Israel. However, as reported by Raw Story, the convicted killer continues to deny having any memory of the assassination.

ABC News reports Sirhan Sirhan refused to attend several parole hearings over the last 49 years. However, during the 2011 hearing, which he did attend, he again insisted that he did not remember shooting Senator Kennedy.

The parole board ultimately determined he “hadn’t shown sufficient remorse and didn’t understand the enormity of the crime.”

On Wednesday, Sirhan will not only face the parole board. He will also stand before 91-year-old Paul Schrade — who was at the scene and was also shot on June 5, 1968.

Interestingly, Schrade may not intend to speak out against Sirhan Sirhan. For years, Paul Schrade has strongly supported the theory that there was, in fact, a second shooter in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel.

Although he was asked to comment on his attendance at the parole hearing, Schrade refused to disclose his planned remarks.

On Wednesday, Sirhan Sirhan will face a parole board for the fifteenth time in nearly 50 years. It is unclear whether the 71-year-old man will open up about the heinous crime or whether Paul Schrade will speak on his behalf. However, the convicted killer has confirmed he will appear at the hearing.

[Photo courtesy of Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons| Cropped and Resized | CC BY-SA 2.0 ]

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