Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Sen. Robert F. Kennedy 18...


SOLEDAD, Calif. -- Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Sen. Robert F. Kennedy 18 years ago, lost an eighth bid for freedom Thursday when a state parole board ruled 'the magnitude of his crime' outweighed his good behavior in prison.

In a 2 hearing at Soledad State Prison, Sirhan, 42, pleaded with the three-member panel to grant him parole.


'I feel I have rehabilitated myself,' he said. 'What happened in 1968, I wish I could undo but I can't. This is 1986 and I feel because of my record I am entitled for a parole.'

It was the eighth time parole has been rejected for the Jordanian immigrant who is serving a life prison sentence for shooting Kennedy at close range in a hallway leading to the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968.

'The crime was an attack on our political system,' the board said. 'We cannot believe he had amnesia as he has claimed.'


The panel noted that in addition to killing Kennedy, Sirhan shot five other people.

'This was a difficult decision to make,' the panel said. 'But we find him not suitable for a parole although we are aware of the fact he has been a model prisoner and he has done well to improve himself since being incarcerated.

'Those matters do not outweigh the magnitude of his crime.'

The panel ordered Sirhan transferred to Vacaville state prison for psychological testing. It said Sirhan could try again for parole next year.

After an earlier parole hearing, Sirhan was ordered to a different prison hospital for such testing but he never went because his lawyer insisted his life would be in danger if he were among other prisoners.

Sirhan told the parole panel that his mind was clouded by alcohol on the night he shot Kennedy, who had just won the California Democratic presidential primary.

Board members Charles W. Ward, Albert M. Leddy and Robert C. Loriano seemed pleased with the record Sirhan has compiled during his imprisonment at Soledad Prison. On several occasions, they praised him as a model prisoner.

But Thomas Trapp, assistant district attorney for Los Angeles County, pleaded with the board not to grant Sirhan a parole date, calling the assassination 'an enormous crime.'


'This was not an average homicide,' said Trapp. 'It's effects went beyond most homicides. In this case, it affected the whole nation. This was an enormous crime.'

Sirhan's lawyer, Luke McKissack, said, 'The real issue to me is what do we do with Sirhan now. There is nothing in Sirhan's history that indicates he shouldn't take his place in society. He has been a model prisoner, and every psychiatric report indicates he is free from any mental problems.

'I have spent a lot of years with Sirhan and I know he has really come to appreciate the value of human life,' said McKissack. 'The time has come to set a parole date. I hope the panel has the courage to grant the parole.'

Sirhan was convicted in 1969 and sentenced to death for the killing. The penalty was reduced in 1972 to life in prison when the California Supreme Court outlawed the state's death penalty.

Under that same law, Sirhan was eligible for release after having served 13 years, but on every occasion since that anniversary date he has been unsuccessful in convincing the board he should be freed.

McKissack later termed the parole hearing a 'farce,' charging that parole panels have made political rather than legal judgements in Sirhan's case.


'We still have the criminally reprehensible performance by the past panel and there were a certain number of ambiguities by this panel,' he said. Asked if he felt Sirhan got a fair hearing, he said, 'It would be a farce to say that.'

'Maybe one day there will be a (panel) who will decide the case on legal terms...They probably made their mind up before we got here.'

Assistant D.A. Trapp, asked if he felt Sirhan would ever get out of prison, said, 'It would depend on a lot of things. Maybe it'll happen some day. You can't send the message out there that this crime is worth only so much.'

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