Why Sirhan Sirhan did not deserve parole for killing my dad: Read Christopher Kennedy’s statement on RFK’s assassin’s latest attempt for freedom

SNEED EXCLUSIVE: Robert F. Kennedy’s killer was denied parole after his son, Christopher — who lives in the Chicago suburbs — spoke forcefully against it before the California Parole Board last week.

SHARE Why Sirhan Sirhan did not deserve parole for killing my dad: Read Christopher Kennedy’s statement on RFK’s assassin’s latest attempt for freedom
Sirhan Sirhan arrives for a parole hearing on Aug. 27, 2021, in San Diego, Calif.

Sirhan Sirhan arrives for a parole hearing on Aug. 27, 2021, in San Diego, Calif. Last week, a California parole panel denied Sirhan parole for the 16th time.


This time it was a direct shot.

Last week, Sirhan B. Sirhan, the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, a member of America’s legendary Kennedy family and younger brother of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, was denied parole once again.

It was Sirhan’s 16th failed attempt to win his freedom.

It was also a stunning contrast to 2021, when the California Parole Board recommended his release — which was quickly rejected by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The latest denial came after Christopher Kennedy, the eighth of Robert’s 11 children who lives in suburban Chicago, re-entered the fray.

“On behalf of my mother, Ethel, and my siblings Joe, Courtney, Kerry, Max and Rory, I am here to urge you to deny parole today,” he told the parole board as it considered Sirhan’s new request.

“I ask myself countless times, ‘Why should he stop suffering before my mother does?’”

Kennedy’s dramatic statement, which was delivered at a video-conferenced parole board hearing at the San Diego-area prison where his father’s killer is being held, was obtained exclusively by Sneed.


Christopher Kennedy

Sun-Times file photo

It was a chance for Kennedy to forcefully tell the board why he felt Sirhan did not deserve to be free.

“We were old enough to remember but too young to understand ... that the bullet that kills the father wounds the child,” he said.

Sirhan, a Palestinian born in Jerusalem who had come to the United States, was 24 when he fatally shot “RFK” exiting a Los Angeles campaign victory rally in June 1968, soon after Kennedy won the Democratic presidential primary in California and five years after his brother was killed.

“We think of ourselves as survivors and not as victims,” Kennedy said of his siblings and mother.

“The murder … may have occurred in the past, but in our minds and in our hearts that murder is very much a part of our present, and we know it will be part of our future.”

Christopher Kennedy, chairman of his family’s investment firm, Joseph P. Kennedy Enterprises Inc., and the president of Merchandise Mart Properties in Chicago until its sale in 2012, told the parole board:

“This is a man who has never admitted killing my father, never said he was sorry for having ended his life.”

Sirhan did admit at his 1969 trial that he shot Kennedy, but he also claimed from the start he had no memory of doing so and his subsequent narratives over the years have kept changing.

“We want a justice system that strives for reconciliation as much as it does for deterrence,” Kennedy wrote.

Kennedy’s address to the board also notes that in 1969, his mother and his uncle, U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, “showed mercy by asking the court that had sentenced the convicted murderer to death … to instead commute his sentence to life in prison.”

But Sirhan “has refused truth, thereby forfeiting reconciliation. … His repeated denials of his crimes have been devastating, his lack of remorse soul crushing.”

Ironically, several years ago two of RFK’s other sons, Robert Jr. and Douglas Kennedy, supported parole for Sirhan, claiming they felt their father would have supported their decision.

Gov. Newsom has named RFK as a role model ... and a political hero.

“The pain did not end for us in 1968,” Christopher Kennedy told the parole board. “It remains a defining part of our lives today,” he stressed.

“Like the prisoner, we were raised Christian.

“We are Catholics, we are not haters.

“We don’t want vengeance, we want justice.

“We want to offer forgiveness, but we need to see repentance.

“It is the oldest bargain in history.

“One side admits, and the other side forgives.

“One side offers truth, and the other side offers reconciliation.”

He added that “parole is not a right, parole is a privilege; parole is not meant to be a given, it is meant to be earned.

“ ... The murderer continues to proffer lies and deception, over and over again, as part of his chronic refusal to accept responsibility for killing our father.”

Kennedy continued: “Without remorse and accountability — true rehabilitation cannot have occurred. And absent rehabilitation, it cannot be said that an individual imprisoned for serious, violent crimes no longer poses a threat to society.”

Backshot: At the time of the murder, Sirhan claimed he felt betrayed by a Kennedy campaign proposal to send military planes to support Israel.

Sirhan’s lawyer, Angela Berry told the parole board her client, who will turn 79 later this month, wants to live with a brother who is practically blind and needs help.

He can try again for parole in three years.

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