California Gov. Gavin Newsom Denies Parole for RFK Assassin Sirhan Sirhan

sirhan was Recommended for parole in AugustAfter spending 53 years in prison for the 1968 murder. Kennedy’s two sons, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Douglas Kennedy, supported Sirhan’s release during his 16th appearance before the California Parole Board. But other members of the family felt that he should remain in captivity.
A month later, Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, said in a statement That Sirhan “should not get an opportunity to terrorize again.”

“He should not be paroled,” she said in a September statement.

Through the review process, Newsom mentioned his idea to Kennedy, telling reporters that he placed a framed photo of the former senator at the entrance to his office.

A statement from the governor’s office said Newsom decided to reverse the parole board’s decision after determining that Sirhan “currently poses an unreasonable threat to public safety.”

“The governor arrived at his decision based on a number of factors, including Mr. Sirhan’s refusal to accept responsibility for his crime, his lack of the necessary insight and accountability to support his safe release, and his refusal to accept violence committed in his name.” failure, and failure to mitigate their risk factors,” the statement said.

In Los Angeles Times Op-Ed In explaining his decision, Newsom wrote that Sirhan had recorded his plan to kill Kennedy before the assassination and that, decades after the assassination, “Sirhan began to shirk responsibility” and that more recently “an ideological lightning strike”. The relevance of his position as a stick”.

Newsom said Sirhan, now 77, “remains a powerful icon of political violence.”

The governor wrote, “He does not understand, let alone the skill to manage, the complex risks of his self-made notoriety. He cannot be safely released from prison because he has committed his crimes to fuel further political violence.” The risk has not been mitigated.”

CNN has contacted Sirhan Sirhan’s lawyer for comment.

Kennedy family members who opposed Sirhan’s release said in a statement that they were “deeply relieved” by the governor’s decision.

“The assassin’s violent act violated the values ​​of openness, dialogue, and democratic change that Robert Kennedy embraced and that is the basis of our political system,” he said. “The offender must transform himself.”

“How this murder has become common in popular culture, amplified by the regularity of the prisoner’s attempts to free our family, has forced our husbands and fathers to be killed thousands of times,” he said. , the governor’s decision “represents an affirmation of the rule of law upon all those who would betray it with hatred and violence.”

“We are extremely grateful for this decision, which aims to ensure that no family, nor our country, suffers the same heartbreaking, irreparable loss,” he said.

Sirhan — who was 24 at the time — shot Kennedy in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after a campaign event in which Kennedy celebrated his primary victory for the Democratic nomination for President in 1968.

Sirhan. a lawyer for previously described As a Palestinian who became a refugee at the age of 4 and “seen persecution” before moving to the US as a teenager.

Originally sentenced to death, Sirhan’s sentence was commuted to prison in 1972 after the California State Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional.

CNN’s Christina Maxouris contributed to this report.