The convicted assassin of US Sen. Robert F Kennedy will be seeking parole on Friday for the 16th time, and for the first time there won’t be a prosecutor arguing against his release.
Sirhan Sirhan, 77, has served 53 years for the murder of the New York senator — and brother of President John F Kennedy — who was running for the Democratic nomination for president in 1968 when he was shot down at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after winning the California primary.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón doesn’t believe it’s the job of a prosecutor to argue for keeping prisoners behind bars, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
“The role of a prosecutor and their access to information ends at sentencing,” Alex Bastian, a special advisor to Gascón, said in a statement Thursday.
Sirhan’s new attorney, Angela Berry, told the Tribune she will argue to the parole board that it should make it’s decision based on who her client is today rather than what happened in 1968.
“We can’t change the past, but he was not sentenced to life without the possibility of parole,” she said. “To justify denying it based on the gravity of the crime and the fact that it disenfranchised millions of Americans is ignoring the rehabilitation that has occurred and that rehabilitation is a more relevant indicator of whether or not a person is still a risk to society.”
Sirhan was initially sentenced to death for the killing, but the sentenced was changed to live in prison in 1972, when the California Supreme Court outlawed capital punishment.
A two-person panel will hear the argument on Friday, and it usually announces its decision on the same day. Parole Board staff then have 90 days to review that decision before it’s handed over to the governor for his consideration.
In the past, Sirhan has claimed to have no memory of the shooting and therefore can’t take responsible for it.
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[Featured image: Left: Sirhan Sirhan/California Department of Corrections and Robert F Kennedy on May 9, 1968/AP Photo]