RFK's youngest daughter Rory blasts decision to free his killer

RFK’s youngest daughter Rory – who was born after her dad’s murder – blasts decision to free his killer Sirhan Sirhan claiming he hasn’t shown remorse

  • Rory Kennedy, 52, the youngest daughter of RFK, published an opinion piece on Wednesday titled ‘The Man Who Murdered My Father Doesn’t Deserve Parole’ 
  • Rory claims that her father’s killer has not accepted responsibility or shown remorse for his murderous actions and should not be granted parole
  • A California panel recommended on Friday that Sirhan be granted parole after nearly five decades in prison
  • A statement signed by six of Robert Kennedy’s nine surviving children announced that they were ‘devastated’ by the San Diego panel’s ruling
  • It was signed by Joseph P. Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy, Kerry Kennedy, Christopher G. Kennedy, Maxwell T. Kennedy and Rory Kennedy 
  • Two of RFK’s children, Douglas Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have supported Sirhan’s parole with Douglas speaking at Friday’s hearing
  • Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Ethel Kennedy, RFK’s widow, have not publicly announced their opinions of Sirhan’s parole recommendation
  • Two of Robert and Ethel’s 11 children, David Kennedy and Michael Kennedy,  are deceased

Robert F Kennedy’s youngest daughter has hit out at a California parole board’s recommendation to free the assassin that killed her father after nearly five decades in prison.

The Kennedy family was divided on Friday when the California panel recommended that killer Sirhan Sirhan, 77, be granted parole. 

Now 52-year-old Rory Kennedy, who was born after her father’s death, has made her stance abundantly clear in an opinion piece published by The New York Times on Wednesday titled ‘The Man Who Murdered My Father Doesn’t Deserve Parole.’

Rory was born six months after her father’s assassination at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. She opens the piece explaining that her, her mother, and the majority of her siblings wish to see Sirhan stay behind bars, despite some of her family members who think otherwise. 

She boldly writes, ‘As my father was taken forever, so too should Mr. Sirhan be.’ 

The youngest sibling states that her ‘father’s murder was absolute, irreversible, a painful truth that I have had to live with every day of my life.’ 

Sirhan Sirhan, 77, was recommended to be released on parole by a California panel on Friday after 53 years in prison for murder. He is pictured on Friday

Rory Kennedy, 52, published an opinion piece on Wednesday titled ‘The Man Who Murdered My Father Doesn’t Deserve Parole’ calling on the full parole board and Gov. Gavin Newsom reject Sirhan’s recommendation for parole

She goes on to describe experiences that were taken from her along with her father including meeting her father, playing with her father, getting dropped off at college by her father, or getting walked down the aisle. 

Rory continues on speculating ‘the price of her father’s life’ cut short and how it impacted the American people pointing to the ‘thousands of young men who died in Vietnam as the war my father opposed ground on for nearly seven more years’, ‘the millions living in poverty or under the yoke of racism’, ‘the wrongfully convicted who have languished behind prison walls’, and ‘the generation of would-be leaders whose hopes and dreams my father carried with him.’

She calls on the words her Uncle Teddy used when he pleaded with the district attorney to spare Sirhan’s life in 1969 when he was sentenced to death: ‘My brother was a man of love and sentiment and compassion.’

But Rory argues that Sirhan was showed compassion in 1972 when California suspended the death penalty and changed his sentence to ‘life with the possibility of parole’- the option for ‘life without parole’ was not yet a choice. 

RFK was shot in Los Angeles after giving a victory speech following his win in the South Dakota and California 1968 Democratic presidential primaries (Pictured: Ethel, left, RFK, right) 

She claims that she speaks on behalf of the majority of her siblings and her mother who believe that Sirhan killed RFK and has not accepted responsibility for the drime

Rory’s stance comes from her belief that her father’s convicted killer ‘has not been willing to accept responsibility for his act and has shown little remorse.’ 

Sirhan has tried for parole 15 times before last week’s hearing. Rory points to his 2016 hearing as proof that her father’s assassin is not willing to accept responsibility for the killing. 

She claims that when Sirhan was asked to explain how he was involved in the assassination, Sirhan simply replied, ‘I was there, and I supposedly shot a gun.’

When the commissioner asked again saying, ‘I’m asking you to tell me what you believe you’re responsible for,’ Sirhan replied, ‘It’s a good question. Legally speaking, I’m not guilty of anything.’ 

FOR: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (left) and Douglas Kennedy (right) have supported Sirhan’s recommendation for parole

AGAINST: The statement posted Friday was signed by six of Robert Kennedy’s nine surviving children announced that they were ‘devastated’ by the San Diego panel’s ruling. L-R Joseph P. Kennedy II, Maxwell Kennedy and Rory Kennedy

AGAINST: The siblings will continue to fight to keep Sirhan behind bars for their father’s murder. L-R Courtney Kennedy Hill, Kerry Kennedy and Christopher Kennedy

Rory then points to last week’s hearing when Sirhan claimed that after 53 years he still does not remember the crime saying, ‘it pains me to experience that, the knowledge for such a horrible deed, if I did in fact do that,’ according to The Associated Press. 

Rory questions, ‘How can you express remorse while refusing to accept responsibility?’

‘And how, having committed one of the most notorious assassinations of the latter part of the 20th century, can you be considered rehabilitated when you won’t even acknowledge your role in the crime itself?’ 

Parole commissioner Robert Barton reportedly recommended Sirhan for release despite his ‘lack of taking complete responsibility’ because they did not deem him to be ‘currently dangerous.’ 

But Rory argues that the parole board acted ‘without concern for justice or regard for rehabilitation.’ She also points to the disturbing idea that his freedom could allow her father’s killer to move less an hour away from her home, where his brother lives. 

The youngest of RFK’s children ends her plea directly asking the full parole board and Governor Gavin Newsom ‘to please reject this recommendation and keep Sirhan Sirhan in prison.’ 

On the same day as Sirhan’s recommendation to parole, six of the nine surviving children of the slain New York Senator issued a statement announcing that they were ‘devastated’ by the San Diego panel’s ruling.  

Although most of the Kennedy family has avoided discussing or engaging with their father’s death and Sirhan in public, the parole board’s recommendation has pushed some of them to ‘adamantly oppose the parole and release of Sirhan Sirhan.’ 

‘We are in disbelief that this man would be recommended for release,’ the statement from the six siblings read. 

It was signed by Joseph P. Kennedy II, Courtney Kennedy Hill, Kerry Kennedy, Christopher G. Kennedy, Maxwell T. Kennedy and Rory Kennedy who write that the decision has ‘inflicted enormous additional pain.’ 

But two of RFK’s children, Douglas Kennedy, 54, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., 67, have supported Sirhan’s parole. 

Sen. Robert Kennedy and Ambassador Hotel employee Juan Romero moments after RFK was shot by Sirhan Sirhan, June 1968

A mortally wounded Robert Kennedy on the floor of the kitchen at the Ambassador Hotel, June 1968

Robert Kennedy was walking through the kitchen of the hotel stopping to speak with supporters when he was shot, June 1968 

RFK was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital and pronounced dead a day later, on June 6, 1968

Douglas addressed the two-person panel that recommended that parole be granted during a virtual hearing, according to the AP.  

‘I’m overwhelmed just by being able to view Mr. Sirhan face to face,’ he said moved to tears. ‘I’ve lived my life both in fear of him and his name in one way or another. And I am grateful today to see him as a human being worthy of compassion and love.’

RFK Jr. has spoken in favor of Sirhan’s release, and wrote in a letter that he met with his father’s killer in prison who ‘asked for forgiveness,’ the AP reported. 

He has previously stated that he does not believe Sirhan killed his father. 

Paul Schrade, who’d worked with RFK and was also shot that night, also believes that Sirhan was not the shooter and should be released.

‘Sirhan did not shoot Robert Kennedy,’ Schrade, 96, maintains. ‘I got the first shot, the second shot missed Kennedy,’ according to NPR. 

He believes that unreliable ballistics evidence by the Los Angeles Police Department disrupted the case and advocates for Sirhan’s release in order to find RFK’s true assassin. 

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, 70, and Ethel Kennedy, 93, RFK’s widow, have not publicly announced their opinions of Sirhan’s parole recommendation. 

Two of Robert and Ethel’s 11 children are deceased. David Kennedy died at age 28 in 1984 and Michael Kennedy died at age 39 in 1997. 

This marked Sirhan’s 16th attempt at parole. The panel’s recommendation still awaits a review by the California Parole Board and a final decision by Governor Gavin Newsom. 

The review process could take up to 120 days.  

Sirhan was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 1969. He is serving a life sentence at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego County, California

Sirhan has attempted to be recommended for parole 15 times before Friday’s recommendation. The decision will now move to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk 

Sirhan stepped towards RFK with a rolled up campaign poster, hiding his .22 revolver shooting him in the head from only a foot away

He was immediately wrestled to the ground  by RFK’s security team and taken into custody. He claims that he has been drinking alcohol and did not remember pulling the trigger

Robert Kennedy was the younger brother to former President John F. Kennedy, serving as his brother’s US attorney general. He was then elected as a New York Senator. 

RFK was 42 years old when he was pronounced dead on June 6, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel. The rising politician was shot after giving a victory speech following his win in the South Dakota and California 1968 Democratic presidential primaries. 

The shooting occurred in the kitchen area of the hotel as RFK and several of his staff made their way to the press room. He and five other people were shot as Sirhan was immediately apprehended. 

Sirhan was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death the next year. He eluded execution when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed capital punishment in 1972 and lessened his sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole. 

The Palestinian immigrant claimed he had been drinking on the night of the assassination and doesn’t remember pulling the trigger. 

If Sirhan is released, he may be deported to Jordan as he never obtained US citizenship after immigrating to the country from Israel as a child. 

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