California’s governor rejected a recommendation from a two-person panel of parole commissioners to free on parole Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in 1968. Sirhan is now aged 77. In his decision, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said the assassination was “among the most notorious crimes in American history.” The killing “also caused great harm to the American people,” he added. The decision had a personal element for Newsom, a fellow Democrat, who displays RFK photos in his official and home offices. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel, and six of his children hailed Newsom’s decision.
Sirhan will be scheduled for a new parole hearing no later than February 2023. He will ask a judge to overturn Newsom’s denial, defense attorney Angela Berry said. Parole commissioners found Sirhan suitable for release “because of his impressive extensive record of rehabilitation over the last half-century,” Berry said.Sirhan originally was sentenced to death in the gas chamber, but that sentence was commuted to life. Sirhan was born to an Arab Christian family in Jerusalem. When Sirhan was 12 years old, his family immigrated to the United States, moving briefly to New York and then to California. He never became an American citizen, retaining instead his Jordanian citizenship.