Sirhan Sirhan, now 78, was once again denied parole Wednesday, 55 years after he shot and killed presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and wounded five others in Los Angeles in 1969. Sirhan, a Palestinian from Jordan, acknowledged he was angry at Kennedy for his support of Israel.
The latest denial by a two-person board in San Diego came after Sirhan was found suitable for parole by a parole panel in 2021, a decision that was reversed by Gov. Gavin Newsom. In this L.A. Times op-ed published in January 2022, Newsom wrote that Sirhan remained a threat to the public.
Sirhan’s attorney, Angela Berry, said the most recent parole denial was influenced by Newsom’s stringent opposition to the release.
Then there was John Hinckley Jr., who in 1981 attempted to assassinate then-President Ronald Reagan to capture the attention of actress Jodie Foster. Reagan’s would-be assassin was recently granted unconditional release, 41 years after the shooting that rocked the nation. Hinckley, now 67, was found not guilty in the aftermath of the March 30, 1981, attack by a jury that declared him insane. He subsequently spent two sporadic decades in a mental hospital, often released to his mother’s care in her gated Williamsburg, Virginia community where he had access to a Toyota Camry while on extended release.
In 2003, U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman, nominated to the federal bench by Bill Clinton, began allowing Hinckley to live outside the hospital with restrictions, and by 2016, he was residing in Virginia at his elderly mother’s golf course estate full-time. She died in July 2021.
Friedman indicated last year that all of Hinckley’s restrictions would be lifted by June 15 if he continued to do well, and confirmed that opinion Wednesday. Judge Friedman, who is a lawyer, not a medical doctor, declared Hinckley “shows no signs of active mental illness.”
Reagan recovered from the shooting, but White House press secretary James Brady was left permanently disabled after being shot in the head. Following Brady’s death in 2014, a medical examiner ruled his death a homicide caused by the wounds inflicted by Hinckley. That message obviously never resonated with Judge Paul Friedman.