RFK's daughter begs CA Gov. Newsom not to parole her dad's killer

RFK’s daughter Kerry Kennedy sends open letter begging California Governor Gavin Newsom not to parole her dad’s killer Sirhan Sirhan

  • Kerry Kennedy, 62, the daughter of RFK, published an opinion piece on Wednesday urging Governor Gavin Newsom not to parole her father’s killer
  • They lawyer notes that her father’s killer has not accepted responsibility or shown remorse for his murderous actions and should not be granted parole 
  • A California panel recommended in August that Sirhan be granted parole after nearly five decades in prison; Gov. Newsom will make the final decision 
  • A statement signed by six of Robert Kennedy’s nine surviving children announced that they were ‘devastated’ by the San Diego panel’s ruling 
  • It was signed by Joseph P. Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Christopher G. Kennedy, Maxwell T. Kennedy and Rory Kennedy 
  • Ethel Kennedy, RFK’s widow, has also opposed the parole in a written statement
  • Two of RFK’s children, Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have supported Sirhan’s parole with Douglas speaking at Friday’s hearing 
  • Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has not publicly announced her opinion 
  • Two of Robert and Ethel’s 11 children, David Kennedy and Michael Kennedy, are deceased 

Robert F Kennedy’s daughter Kerry Kennedy, 62, wrote an open letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom urging him not to parole her father’s killer Sirhan Sirhan.  

A state parole board recommended this year that Sirhan, 77, be released. The ruling by the two-person panel at Sirhan’s 16th parole hearing was then set to be reviewed by the California Parole Board’s staff. 

Gov. Newsom will have the final say on the convicted murderer’s release. He has hinted that he will not approve the parole and is expected to make a decision soon. 

Kerry Kennedy, who was 8 years old when her father was assassinated at LA’s Ambassador Hotel in 1968, published an open letter to the governor in The Sacramento Bee on Wednesday declaring: ‘Sirhan Sirhan should not be paroled.’

Kerry Kennedy, 62, the daughter of RFK, published an opinion piece on Wednesday urging Governor Gavin Newsom not to parole her father’s killer Sirhan Sirhan

Sen. Robert Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968

Gov. Newsom has hinted that he will not approve Sirhan’s parole but has not officially approved or denied the decision that awaits his final vote

The lawyer and head of RFK Human Rights, a non-profit dedicated to social justice, explained that she is an ‘ardent proponent of decarceration’ but does not believe Sirhan is a worthy candidate. 

‘I…fervently believe that every single person who is suitable for parole should be paroled,’ Kerry Kennedy wrote.   

‘Everyone deserves an opportunity for change, but this must start with acknowledging a wrong was committed; taking responsibility for the harm; apologizing; and engaging in the hard work of changing oneself so society is secure in knowing that the perpetrator will not harm the community again.’ 

But Kerry Kennedy noted that Sirhan has never shown remorse or fully taken responsibility for his crime. Instead, he has supported conspiracy theories that claim to prove his innocence. 

‘Sirhan still cannot acknowledge, apologize or try to atone for what he has done,’ Kerry Kennedy stated.  

When Sirhan was asked to explain how he was involved in the assassination in his 2016 parole hearing, Sirhan simply replied, ‘I was there, and I supposedly shot a gun.’

When the commissioner asked again saying, ‘I’m asking you to tell me what you believe you’re responsible for,’ Sirhan replied, ‘It’s a good question. Legally speaking, I’m not guilty of anything.’

In his latest parole hearing, Sirhan still refused to accept responsibility for the crime.

Sirhan Sirhan, 77, was recommended to be released on parole by a California panel in August after 53 years in prison for the murder of RFK on June 5, 1948 

Sirhan was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1969. He is serving a life sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County, California

Sirhan stepped towards RFK with a rolled up campaign poster, hiding his .22 revolver fatally shooting him in the head from only a foot away 

He claimed that after 53 years he still does not remember the crime saying, ‘it pains me to experience that, the knowledge for such a horrible deed, if I did in fact do that,’ according to the AP. 

Parole commissioner Robert Barton reportedly recommended Sirhan for release despite his ‘lack of taking complete responsibility’ because they did not deem him to be ‘currently dangerous.’  

‘Remorse is integral both to the parole process and to the very notion of criminal rehabilitation itself, because if an offender does not understand his crime, what is to prevent him from committing a similar act?’ Kerry Kennedy stated. 

The 62-year-old pointed to a statement her mother, Ethel Kennedy, released in September insisting that her husband’s killer should not be paroled and ‘should not have the opportunity to terrorize again.’  

‘If parole is to address our nation’s problem of mass incarceration effectively while we create a better, more humane system based on compassion and hope, then the parole system has to be sound, trusted and safe,’ Kerry Kennedy explained before noting that she believes there many other inmates more suitable for parole than Sirhan. 

‘I believe that even after all these years in prison, he still poses a great threat to public safety,’ Kerry Kennedy said making her stance abundantly clear. 

RFK was shot in Los Angeles after giving a victory speech following his win in the South Dakota and California 1968 Democratic presidential primaries (Pictured: Ethel, left, RFK, right) 

AGAINST: The statement posted Friday was signed by six of Robert Kennedy’s nine surviving children announced that they were ‘devastated’ by the San Diego panel’s ruling. L-R Joseph P. Kennedy II, Maxwell Kennedy and Rory Kennedy

AGAINST: The siblings will continue to fight to keep Sirhan behind bars for their father’s murder. L-R Courtney Kennedy Hill, Kerry Kennedy and Christopher Kennedy

Kerry Kennedy’s open letter came several days after she and her brother Christopher G. Kennedy appeared on CBS Sunday Morning to advocate for Sirhan’s place behind bars. 

‘We need to be an advocate for our father; he is not here to advocate for himself,’ Christopher Kennedy said in the interview. ‘That’s the legacy he taught us, the notion of duty and honor and what is required of a child, of family, of a country.’ 

On the same day as Sirhan’s recommendation to parole, six of the nine surviving children of the slain New York senator issued a statement announcing that they were ‘devastated’ by the San Diego panel’s ruling.

Although most of the Kennedy family has avoided discussing or engaging with their father’s death and Sirhan in public, the parole board’s recommendation has pushed some of them to ‘adamantly oppose the parole and release of Sirhan Sirhan.’

‘We are in disbelief that this man would be recommended for release,’ the statement from the six siblings read.

It was signed by Joseph P. Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy Hill, Kerry Kennedy, Christopher G. Kennedy, Maxwell T. Kennedy and Rory Kennedy who write that the decision has ‘inflicted enormous additional pain.’

Rory Kennedy also published an opinion piece in The New York Times titled ‘The Man Who Murdered My Father Doesn’t Deserve Parole.’

She boldly wrote: ‘As my father was taken forever, so too should Mr. Sirhan be.’ 

The youngest daughter of RFK also noted Sirhan’s failure to accept responsibility for her father’s murder. ‘How can you express remorse while refusing to accept responsibility?’ Rory Kennedy questioned. 

Rory Kennedy argued that the parole board acted ‘without concern for justice or regard for rehabilitation.’ She also pointed to the disturbing idea that his freedom could allow her father’s killer to move less an hour away from her home, where his brother lives. 

Ethel Kennedy, 77, publicly opposed Sirhan’s recommendation for parole in a statement penning, ‘He should not be paroled’, in shaky handwriting

Ethel described her husband’s death as ‘an unspeakable loss to the inhumanity of one man’ (Pictured Robert (left) and Ethel Kennedy (right) on their wedding day in Greenwich, Connecticut on June 17, 1950) 

Ethel released her official statement in September writing: ‘He should not be paroled’

RFK’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, has joined the majority of her children in publicly opposing Sirhan’s parole.  

The 92-year-old released an official statement which read: ‘Bobby believed we should work to ‘tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world.’

‘He wanted to end the war in Vietnam and bring people together to build a better, stronger country. More than anything, he wanted to be a good father and loving husband.

‘Our family and our country suffered an unspeakable loss due to the inhumanity of one man. We believe in the gentleness that spared his life, but in taming his act of violence, he should not have the opportunity to terrorize again.’

At the bottom of the printed statement she signed, ‘He should not be paroled,’ and her name.

But two of RFK’s children, Douglas Kennedy, 54, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., 67, have supported Sirhan’s parole.

Douglas addressed the two-person panel that recommended that parole be granted during a virtual hearing, according to the AP.

‘I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face,’ he said moved to tears. ‘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.’ 

FOR: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (left) and Douglas Kennedy (right) have supported Sirhan’s recommendation for parole

Sirhan was immediately wrestled to the ground  by RFK’s security team and taken into custody after firing the fatal shot. He claims that he had been drinking alcohol and did not remember pulling the trigger. He has never accepted responsibility for the killing

Sirhan and his supporters have backed conspiracy theories claiming to prove his innocence

RFK Jr. has spoken in favor of Sirhan’s release, and wrote in a letter that he met with his father’s killer in prison who ‘asked for forgiveness,’ the AP reported.

He has previously stated that he does not believe Sirhan killed his father.

Paul Schrade, who’d worked with RFK and was also shot that night, also believes that Sirhan was not the shooter and should be released.

‘Sirhan did not shoot Robert Kennedy,’ Schrade, 96, maintains. ‘I got the first shot, the second shot missed Kennedy,’ according to NPR.

He believes that unreliable ballistics evidence by the Los Angeles Police Department disrupted the case and advocates for Sirhan’s release in order to find RFK’s true assassin.  

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, 70, has not publicly announced her opinion of Sirhan’s parole recommendation.

Two of Robert and Ethel’s 11 children are deceased. David Kennedy died at age 28 in 1984 and Michael Kennedy died at age 39 in 1997. 

Sen. Robert Kennedy and Ambassador Hotel employee Juan Romero are pictured moments after RFK was shot by Sirhan (Pictured on June 5, 1968)

Robert Kennedy was walking through the kitchen of the hotel stopping to speak with supporters when he was shot (Pictured on June 5, 1968)

RFK was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital and pronounced dead a day later, on June 6, 1968

RFK was the younger brother to former President John F. Kennedy, serving as his brother’s US attorney general. He was then elected as a New York Senator.

RFK was 42 years old when he was gunned down at the Ambassador Hotel a day. The rising politician was shot after giving a victory speech following his win in the South Dakota and California 1968 Democratic presidential primaries.

The shooting occurred in the kitchen area of the hotel as RFK and several of his staff made their way to the press room. He and five other people were shot as Sirhan was immediately apprehended.

Sirhan was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death the next year. He eluded execution when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed capital punishment in 1972 and lessened his sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

The Palestinian immigrant claimed he had been drinking on the night of the assassination and doesn’t remember pulling the trigger.

If Sirhan is released, he may be deported to Jordan as he never obtained US citizenship after immigrating to the country from Israel as a child.

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