RFK assassin recommended for parole

Canyon Country resident Elizabeth Evans struck by a bullet meant for Robert F. Kennedy. Photo courtesy of SCV History

Sirhan Sirhan, the man who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968, was recommended for parole on Friday following testimony by the former attorney general’s two living sons.  

On June 5, 1968, while in the midst of his presidential campaign, Kennedy was mortally wounded by Sirhan, and a number of other people around him were wounded, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Kennedy was 42 years old at the time and still acting in his capacity as a senator for the state of New York.  

Kennedy died at the hospital the following day, and for a little over 50 years, Sirhan has been serving a sentence in San Diego in connection to the murder. The murder, according to reports at the time of the killing, was perpetrated by Sirhan, a 24-year-old alleged Palestinian militant, in response to Kennedy’s support of Israel during the Six-Day War.   

On Friday, a two-person panel approved the 77-year-old’s request for parole during his 16th parole hearing, the Associated Press reported. Additionally, Kennedy’s son, Douglas Kennedy, spoke on behalf of Sirhan, and said he was “moved to tears,” the AP reported.  

“I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face,” he said, according to the AP. “I think I’ve lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another. And I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love.” 

The hearing took place at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility on Friday morning, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  

Gov. Gavin Newsom will now have the final say on whether Sirhan is released from custody, according to the CDCR’s website.  

“Parole suitability hearings are held to determine if an inmate currently poses an unreasonable risk of danger to society if released from prison,” the website reads. It later adds: “If an inmate was convicted of murder, the governor may reverse or modify the board’s decision without referring it back to the board for review.” 

The L.A. County District Attorney District Attorney’s Office did not send a representative to the hearing, the AP reported, as they have in all previous hearings. District Attorney George Gascón has directed that prosecutors not be at many hearings of this type since he assumed office in December. 

Officials from the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office could not be reached for comment as of the publication of this article.  

The Santa Clarita Valley has a connection to the killing of Kennedy as well. Although it occurred in the Ambassador Hotel in the city of Los Angeles, the wife of a local newspaper owner, Betty Evans, was shot and wounded by Sirhan the night he assassinated Kennedy.  

Evans was shot in the eyebrow, but because of the low caliber of the firearm and a miracle, Evans would survive the shooting and be able to keep the bullet that wounded her, The Signal has previously reported.   

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