Robert Kennedy, Jr. is calling for a new investigation into the assassination of his father. Kennedy conducted his own research for months before going to the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in California to speak with Sirhan B. Sirhan, the man convicted of the murder of his father nearly 50 years ago. That conversation coupled with his own examination of his father’s autopsy, police reports, and conversations with witnesses, had led him to conclude that there may have been a second gunman. He believes that it was a bullet from that second gunman that killed his father. Kennedy told The Washington Post what motivated him to do his research.
“I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence… I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”
Among the pieces of information that led Kennedy to do his own research was the fact that the man convicted of the murder, although he confessed to the crime, stated from the beginning of the original investigation that he didn’t remember doing it.
Another item that bothered Robert Kennedy, Jr. was an autopsy report provided to by prosecutors midway through Sirhan Sirhan’s trial. The report stated that Kennedy, Sr.’s death resulted from a bullet shot at point-blank range from behind him that struck behind his ear. The convicted killer was standing in front of him.
A jury convicted Sirhan, however, and he was sentenced to die. That sentence was later commuted to life in prison. Attorneys have submitted multiple appeals, the last one in 2016, but all have been rejected, even in the face of new evidence that suggests that up to 13 shots were fired. If that’s true, then there had to be more than one gunman as Sirhan’s gun held only eight bullets.
Although his case has been closed, his attorneys persist. They are now are launching a bid for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to hold an evidentiary hearing.
In the last appeal rejection, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Wistrich stated that, “Even if the second shooter’s bullet was the one that killed Senator Kennedy, [Sirhan] would be liable [for murder] as an aider and abettor.” If Sirhan were unaware of the other gunman, it finds that the suggestion that someone shot Senator Kennedy from close range with the same gun and bullets as Sirhan Sirhan and was able to get out of the room unnoticed “lacks any evidentiary support.”