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Assassin maintains he can't remember shooting RFK


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Assassin maintains he can't remember shooting RFK

Posted: Feb 28, 2011 3:18 AM CST Updated: Feb 28, 2011 5:58 PM CST

http://www.wfmj.com/Global/story.asp?S=14152495

By LINDA DEUTSCH

AP Special Correspondent

LOS ANGELES (AP) - More than four decades after Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated, his convicted murderer wants to go free for a crime he says he can't remember.

It is not old age or some memory-snatching disease that has erased an act Sirhan Bishara Sirhan once said he committed "with 20 years of malice aforethought." It's been this way almost from the beginning. Hypnotists and psychologists, lawyers and investigators have tried to jog his memory with no useful result.

Now a new lawyer is on the case and he says his efforts have also failed.

"There is no doubt he does not remember the critical events," said William F. Pepper, the attorney who will argue for Sirhan's parole Wednesday. "He is not feigning it. It's not an act. He does not remember it."

Sirhan may not remember much about the night of June 4, 1968, but the world remembers.

They have heard how Sirhan was grabbed as he emptied a pistol in the crowded kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel here where Kennedy stood moments after claiming victory in the California presidential primary. They heard how he kept firing even as his hand was pinned to a table. They heard how Kennedy, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, was shot and died, changing the course of American history.

Parole Board members are bound to review those facts, but they won't consider the many conspiracy theories floated over the years.

Pepper, a New York-based lawyer who also is a British barrister, is the latest advocate of a second gunman theory. Believers claim 13 shots were fired while Sirhan's gun held only eight bullets and that the fatal shot appeared to come from behind Kennedy while Sirhan faced him.

Pepper also suggests Sirhan was "hypno-programmed," turning him into a virtual "Manchurian Candidate," acting robot-like at the behest of evil forces who then wiped his memory clean. It's the stuff of science fiction and Hollywood movies, but some believe it is the key.

How Pepper plans to use any of this to his client's advantage remains to be seen because it will have little bearing on the decision of the panel that must determine if Sirhan is suitable for parole. The board is not being asked to retry the case and lawyers may not present evidence relating to guilt or innocence.

At issue is whether Sirhan, 66, remains a threat to others or to himself, whether he has accepted responsibility for the crime and expressed adequate remorse and whether he has an acceptable parole plan if he is released.

His lack of memory makes expressions of remorse and accepting responsibility difficult.

Sirhan could address that if he speaks at the hearing at Pleasant Valley men's prison in Coalinga. Whether he'll do that is uncertain. He has rarely commented during 13 past parole hearings and sometimes hasn't shown up at all.

Pepper said in an interview with The Associated Press that he has had Sirhan examined several times by psychologist Daniel Brown of Harvard University, an expert in hypnosis of trauma victims. He will not disclose exactly what was accomplished in the sessions but said, "There have been substantial breakthroughs."

Pepper said he may have more to say after the hearing.

"It was very clear to me that this guy did not kill Bob Kennedy," said Pepper.

Asked who did kill the senator, he said, "I believe I have it but I'm not going to deal with it at this time."

In one of many emotional outbursts during his trial, Sirhan blurted out that he had committed the crime "with 20 years of malice aforethought," a statement that could now come back to haunt him. That and his declaration when arrested: "I did it for my country" were his only relevant comments before he said he didn't remember shooting Kennedy.

Public opinion could be an invisible force in the board's decision.

If Sirhan is released, he would be the first imprisoned political assassin to win parole in this country. James Earl Ray, convicted of killing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jack Ruby, convicted of killing John F. Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, both died in prison.

Sirhan was originally sentenced to death over objections by Kennedy family members who said they wanted no more killing. The sentence was commuted to life in prison when the U.S. Supreme Court briefly outlawed the death penalty in 1972.

Kennedy's son, Maxwell, who has spoken for the family previously, did not return phone calls from the AP regarding Sirhan.

The lawyer notes that he has a personal tie to Kennedy, having been chairman of his citizens' committee when he ran for Senate in 1964.

Pepper also represented James Earl Ray, through 10 years of appeals and a civil trial which he said proved that Ray was not King's killer. By then Ray was dead.

David Dahle, head Los Angeles deputy district attorney for parole candidates serving life sentences, said his remarks at the hearing will depend on what is presented by the defense.

"At this point, I am skeptical that I will see something that will cause me to not oppose the grant of parole," he said.

Few high profile prisoners have been released in the California system. Charles Manson and his followers have been repeatedly turned down for parole. Manson follower Susan Atkins attended her final parole hearing on a gurney dying of cancer but was denied release and died in prison three weeks later.

Dahle said the board will review Sirhan's behavior in prison and whether the explosive outbursts of the young man who stood trial in 1969 have continued as he aged. By all accounts, Sirhan has been a model prisoner. But he said there will also be discussions of how he might adjust to life on the outside.

His brother, Munir Sirhan, 64, will submit a statement and a plan for Sirhan to live with him in his Pasadena home if released. However, even Pepper says that is an unlikely prospect because Sirhan, who was a Palestinian immigrant from Jordan, will be considered an illegal alien and would be turned over to immigration officials for deportation.

Munir Sirhan told The Associated Press he has made arrangements with a family in Jordan to house Sirhan if he is deported there.

"I hope it comes out in his favor," said Munir Sirhan. "As Christians we hold a lot of faith. I stand ready to help him in any way possible. If he is not deported our house is still here for him. We feel for the senator, God rest his soul. But 43 years is a long time. "

Both Pepper and Dahle said Sirhan's Middle Eastern connections have always provided a backdrop for considerations of parole.

"I don't think there will ever be a disconnect between issues of Middle East politics and this case," said Dahle.

Pepper said Sirhan is a victim of misperception because of his Palestinian Arab background. He said most assume Sirhan is a Muslim and some have referred to him as "the first terrorist." In fact, he said, Sirhan is a Christian and had no ties to terrorist groups.

Among those attending the hearing will be one of the victims. William Weisel, who was an ABC-TV director, was shot in the stomach.

"There's no doubt he was the shooter," Weisel said. "Whether or not there was another one, I don't know. If there were 13 shots, who was the other shooter?"

Having covered the White House through seven presidents, he said he does not ascribe to conspiracy theories because, "The government can't keep a secret."

However, Weisel said he will tell the parole board he has no objection to Sirhan's release "if the district attorney and the parole board decide it's to everyone's advantage."

Another surviving shooting victim, Paul Schrade, said he was not attending and would have no comment.

__________

AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch covered the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and the Sirhan trial in 1968-69.

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RFK assassin in bid for freedom claims 'I was brainwashed' into killing

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 12:43 AM on 1st March 2011

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1361455/Robert-Kennedy-assassin-Sirhan-Bishara-claims-I-brainwashed-freedom-bid.html#ixzz1FSOA4ew6

Sirhan Sirhan claims not to remember killing

Lawyer claims he was 'brainwashed' and memory erased

The man who assassinated Robert Kennedy says he was ‘hypno-programmed’ into carrying out the attack.

The claim is at the centre of the latest appeal by Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, who shot RFK dead in a crowded hotel kitchen in Los Angeles in June 1968.

The murder changed the course of U.S. history. Kennedy was on course to win the Democratic nomination and may well have beaten Richard Nixon to the White House.

Freedom: Sirhan Sirhan will begin his bid for freedom in California on Wednesday

Caught: Sirhan is charged with the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy

His lawyer is expected to argue in a California parole hearing that he was a 'Manchurian Candidate', brainwashed into assassinating RFK in June 1968.

After years of hypnotherapy and psychological examination,attorney William Pepper said there was, 'no doubt he does not remember the critical events.'

Mr Pepper, who will argue for Sirhan's parole on Wednesday said: 'He is not feigning it. It's not an act. He does not remember it.

'It was very clear to me that this guy did not kill Bob Kennedy.'

Sirhan was convicted of shooting Robert Kennedy in the crowded kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.

Kennedy was there after claiming victory in the California presidential primary.

According to the New York-based lawyer, who also is a British barrister, there was a second gunman who shot and killed RFK.

More...U.S. Senator Edward 'Ted' Kennedy 'rented a Chilean brothel for the entire night', claimed FBI files

Proponents of the second gun man theory contend that 13 shots were fired at RFK while Sirhan's gun held only eight bullets, and that the fatal shot appeared to come from behind Kennedy while Sirhan faced him.

Mr Pepper also suggests Sirhan was 'hypno-programmed,' turning him into a virtual 'Manchurian Candidate,' acting robot-like at the behest of evil forces who then wiped his memory clean.

The claims are however not expected to have any bearing on the outcome of the parole hearing.

The board is not being asked to retry the case and lawyers are not allowed to present evidence relating to guilt or innocence.

At issue is whether Sirhan, 66, remains a threat to others or to himself, whether he has accepted responsibility for the crime and expressed adequate remorse and whether he has an acceptable parole plan if he is released.

Stricken: Robert Kennedy moments after being shot

His lack of memory makes expressions of remorse and accepting responsibility difficult.

It is not known whether Sirhan will address the hearing at Pleasant Valley men's prison in Coalinga.

He has rarely commented during 13 past parole hearings and some instances has not shown up at all.

If Sirhan is released, he would be the first imprisoned political assassin to win parole in the U.S.

In one of many emotional outbursts during his trial, Sirhan blurted out that he had committed the crime 'with 20 years of malice aforethought,' a statement that could now come back to haunt him.

When arrested Sirhan also said: 'I did it for my country'.

Mr Pepper notes has a personal tie to Kennedy, having been chairman of his citizens' committee when he ran for Senate in 1964.

Dynasty: The Kennedy brothers, John F. Kennedy (left) Robert Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy (right). The 'curse of the Kennedy's' blighted promising careers

Pepper also represented Martin Luther King's assassin, James Earl Ray, through 10 years of appeals and a civil trial which he said proved that Ray was not King's killer.

David Dahle, head Los Angeles deputy district attorney for parole candidates serving life sentences, said his remarks at the hearing will depend on what is presented by the defence.

'At this point, I am sceptical that I will see something that will cause me to not oppose the grant of parole,' he said.

Few high profile prisoners have been released in the California system.

Charles Manson and his followers have been repeatedly turned down for parole.

Manson follower Susan Atkins attended her final parole hearing on a gurney dying of cancer but was denied release and died in prison three weeks ago

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1361455/Robert-Kennedy-assassin-Sirhan-Bishara-claims-I-brainwashed-freedom-bid.html#ixzz1FSOA4ew6

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Article in today's Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/03/sirhan-sirhan-denied-parole-robert-kennedy-shooting

A California board has denied parole for Robert F Kennedy's convicted assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, saying after a four-hour hearing that he hadn't shown adequate remorse or understanding of the severity of the crime that was mourned by a nation more than 40 years ago.

Sirhan, now 66, spoke at length and expressed sorrow, but said he doesn't remember shooting Kennedy or five other victims in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where Kennedy stood moments after claiming victory in the California presidential primary.

"Every day of my life, I have great remorse and deep regret," Sirhan, a Palestinian Christian immigrant, told a panel of two parole board commissioners at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga.

The panel chairman, Mike Prizmich, and the deputy commissioner, Randy Kevorkian, told Sirhan he must seek further self-help courses, come to terms with the 4 June 1968 shooting in which Sirhan emptied a pistol in the hotel's crowded kitchen, and show evidence of his improvement by his next parole hearing, which would be in five years.

"The magnitude of this crime is one that a nation mourned over, and from that day on, politicians changed the way they interacted with people," Prizmich said.

He noted the impact on the Kennedy family, which had endured another tragedy five years before with the killing of President Kennedy.

At that point, Sirhan interjected. "That's not my responsibility," he said.

The chairman cut him off.

"In this way, interrupting me indicates a lack of control of yourself," he said.

Sirhan, with graying hair and a missing front tooth, appeared cheerful as he entered the hearing room. He was talkative, bidding the commissioners "good afternoon", a departure from his previous 12 parole hearings, where he rarely spoke and sometimes didn't even appear.

Sirhan emphasised he's a practicsing Christian who attends services every Sunday. He said he was put in solitary confinement at the Central California prison after he became a target of hatred following the September 11 terror attacks in 2001. Fellow inmates thought he was a Muslim, he said.

He pleaded with the panel to give him a release date, saying he was willing to accept the possibility of deportation to his native Jordan. He said no one in his family is involved in politics and he suggested he wouldn't be either if he was released.

"I want to live, get lost in the woodwork and live out my life with my community," he said.

But Prizmich said he wasn't impressed with Sirhan blaming others for all of his problems.

"You have made statements that someone set you up, the CIA set you up, the DA set you up. Everything that occurred in a negative way to you, you say it was someone else's fault," he said. "We believe you minimise your conduct."

Sirhan was originally sentenced to death over objections by Kennedy family members who said they wanted no more killing. The sentence was commuted to life in prison when the US supreme court briefly outlawed the death penalty in 1972.

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Hardly surprising. It's illuminating to read the words of those who determined Sirhan's fate. These are the same sorts of legal "scholars" who run our horrendous U.S. system of injustice. They are also known to respond to DNA findings, which belatedly vindicate far too many poor souls who have been imprisoned for years or even decades for crimes they didn't commit, by sadistically manipulating that awful system and delaying the release of these innocent people even longer. They simply don't care about justice, and yet they are the ones entrusted to administer it.

Btw, I've never heard anything about Sirhan proclaiming he "did it for my country" at any point. To my knowledge, he was nonresponsive when arrested, and wouldn't even give authorities his name. Is there a source for this supposed quote, or is it just the usual mainstream media disinformation?

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Hardly surprising. It's illuminating to read the words of those who determined Sirhan's fate. These are the same sorts of legal "scholars" who run our horrendous U.S. system of injustice. They are also known to respond to DNA findings, which belatedly vindicate far too many poor souls who have been imprisoned for years or even decades for crimes they didn't commit, by sadistically manipulating that awful system and delaying the release of these innocent people even longer.

Can you cite any cases where people vindicated by DNA had their relese intentionally delayed by prosecutors?

Btw, I've never heard anything about Sirhan proclaiming he "did it for my country" at any point. To my knowledge, he was nonresponsive when arrested, and wouldn't even give authorities his name. Is there a source for this supposed quote, or is it just the usual mainstream media disinformation?

There are contemporaneous reports that he said this as well for the "20 years of malice" from his trial. He confessed in custody and at trial and he spelled out his plans in his diary. I doubt LHO could have fired all the shots with his MC in the alotted time frame but there is no reasonable little doubt about Sirhan's guilt. No witnesses said anybody but him fired shots.

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22I+did+it+for+my+country%22&hl=en&rlz=1R2ACAW_enUS409&sa=X&ei=HWV2TZr_LMHytge6gq30AQ&ved=0CBUQpwUoCw&source=lnt&tbs=nws%3A1%2Ccdr%3A1%2Ccd_min%3A1968%2Ccd_max%3A1969&tbm=

http://www.google.com/#q=%22with+twenty+years+of+malice%22+OR+%22with+20+years+of+malice%22&hl=en&rlz=1R2ACAW_enUS409&tbs=nws:1,ar:1&source=lnt&sa=X&ei=UFN2TfypKa2E0QGR47TYBg&ved=0CA8QpwUoBQ&bav=on.2,or.&fp=ed4fe3760d6c831f

http://law.jrank.org/pages/3182/Sirhan-Bishara-Sirhan-Trial-1969-Murder-Plan.html

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Len,

Your Google links are long after-the-fact "reporting" that Sirhan said "I did it for my country." In my study of the RFK assassination, which goes back over 30 years, I have not seen contemporaneous accounts to this effect. The link to his trial just shows what a farce it was; Grant Cooper, like the attorneys variously assigned to James Earl Ray, was working hand in hand with the prosecution. He never had an interest in the truth about what happened at the Ambassador Hotel.

Sirhan has always acted, and still sometimes does, like a textbook example of a Manchurian Candidate. No one disputes that he was in the pantry, firing a gun. Many of us do dispute that he fired the fatal shot that killed RFK. If you don't think there is evidence of a second gun, you haven't researched this case.

As for the DNA cases, study the files of The Innocence Project. It's a national disgrace.

I'm glad to know you think Oswald didn't act alone. I look forward to reading your pro-conspiracy contributions on that subject in the JFK assassination forum.

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Len,

Your Google links are long after-the-fact "reporting" that Sirhan said "I did it for my country." In my study of the RFK assassination, which goes back over 30 years, I have not seen contemporaneous accounts to this effect. The link to his trial just shows what a farce it was; Grant Cooper, like the attorneys variously assigned to James Earl Ray, was working hand in hand with the prosecution. He never had an interest in the truth about what happened at the Ambassador Hotel.

Sirhan has always acted, and still sometimes does, like a textbook example of a Manchurian Candidate. No one disputes that he was in the pantry, firing a gun. Many of us do dispute that he fired the fatal shot that killed RFK. If you don't think there is evidence of a second gun, you haven't researched this case.

As for the DNA cases, study the files of The Innocence Project. It's a national disgrace.

I'm glad to know you think Oswald didn't act alone. I look forward to reading your pro-conspiracy contributions on that subject in the JFK assassination forum.

Look again some of the articles are from June 7 - 8, 1968. Sirhan confessed several times. No witnesses saw anyone else fire a gun in the pantry. I've seen the 'evidence' of a 2nd gunman but remain unconvinced.

Cite an accredited psychiatrist or psychologist who believes that Manchurian Candidates are feasible or at least were back in 1968.

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