On Wednesday, Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Sen. Robert F. Kennedy the night he won the California primary in 1968, was denied parole for the 15th time.
Sirhan was interviewed for three years by a California parole panel, whose commissioners felt Sirhan’s lack of remorse and unawareness of the significance of murdering the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination rendered him ineligible for parole, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Sirhan’s life sentence was commuted from his original death sentence when the California Supreme Court outlawed capital punishment in 1972.
The hearing featured Sirhan’s oft-repeated claim that he remembered nothing of the shooting, only that he was in the Ambassador Hotel where Kennedy was shot and then proceeded to his car because he was inebriated. 10 News reported that Sirhan stated, “It’s all vague now. I’m sure you all have it in your records, I can’t deny it or confirm it, I just wish this whole thing had never taken place.”
Sirhan claimed he pled guilty to the murder charge because of an inept defense attorney, protesting, “If you want a confession, I can’t make it now. Legally speaking, I’m not guilty of anything. … It’s not that I’m making light of it. I’m responsible for being there.”
The hearing also allowed Paul Schrade, 91, who was the western regional director of the United Auto Workers Union and labor chair of Kennedy’s campaign, and whom Sirhan also shot that night, to testify that Sirhan should be released.
Schrade told Sirhan, “I forgive you for shooting me. I should have been here long ago and that’s why I feel guilty for not being here to help you and to help me.” After Schrade rambled on, Roberts finally told him to end his testimony, “Quite frankly, you’re losing us.” Schrade blustered, “I think you have been lost for a long time.”
The investigation after Kennedy’s murder found Sirhan had scrawled, “My determination to eliminate RFK is becoming more the more (sic) of an unshakable obsession … RFK must die. RFK must be killed. Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated. . . . Robert F. Kennedy must be assassinated before 5 June 1968.”
June 5, 1968 was the night Sirhan murdered Kennedy, ostensibly because of Kennedy’s support for Israel. Sirhan, a Palestinian Muslim, was born in Jerusalem.
Bill Ayers, the unrepentant domestic terrorist who befriended, worked with, and raised money for Barack Obama in Chicago, once hailed Sirhan Sirhan as a hero.