While a two-person panel has found Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s assassinator Sirhan B. Sirhan to be eligible for parole, the decision is still needing the approval of the governor and the board staff.
Convicted of shooting Kennedy last June 5, 1968 in Los Angeles, the parole made on Friday marked Sirhan’s 16th try at liberation.
The decision still needs to be reviewed by the California Parole Board’s staff for 120 days. The governor is also given 30 days to give a go-signal, change or reject the decision.
If the decision is turned down, Sirhan can attempt again in three years but if it’s approved, it can result in his liberty.
The hearing was conducted according to pandemic protocols, with a commissioner and deputy commissioner present on a video platform.
The office of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, which sued Sirhan in 1969, did not join the post-sentencing process for parole, as stated on its policy.
“The role of a prosecutor and their access to information ends at sentencing,” special advisor to Gascón, Alex Bastian, said in a statement.
“The parole board however has all the pertinent facts and evaluations at their disposal, including how someone has conducted themselves over the last few decades in prison,” he said. “The parole board’s sole purpose is to objectively determine whether someone is suitable for release.”
Some prosecutors commented on the absence of the district attorney’s office at the hearing.
“This is one of the most notorious political assassinations in U.S. history and the killer is being considered for release without benefit of a representative on behalf of the people of California,” noted Vern Pierson, president of the California District Attorney’s Association and the D.A. of El Dorado County.
Meanwhile, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, expressed through a statement that: “My office would never abandon our legal duties to represent a victim whose voice is forever silenced by murder.”
“Robert F. Kennedy served honorably as U.S. Attorney General where he fought for civil rights and dignity and fought against organized crime and corruption,” she continued, as reported by NBC News. “Senator Kennedy, along with any victim of crime, deserves to have the DA represent them as well as protect the safety and wellbeing of the people they are sworn to protect.”