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On April 23, 1969, Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to death penalty after being convicted in the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. In 1972, Sirhan's sentence was commuted to life in prison after California abolished the death penalty.
In the early morning hours of June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy, a U.S. senator from New York who had just won California's Democratic presidential primary, gave a victory speech in the ballroom of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. After the speech, Kennedy was making his way toward the hotel kitchen to greet supporters when he was shot three times at close range by Sirhan Sirhan with a .22 caliber revolver; a fourth bullet went through Kennedy's jacket. Five other people were shot as well, none fatally. Several of the senator's friends and aides subdued Sirhan on the scene. Kennedy died at the hospital the next day. Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, a Palestinian immigrant born in Jerusalem in 1944, moved to the United States with his family as a boy and attended high school in California. He later stated he killed Robert Kennedy because the senator had supported Israel in the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. Following a three-month trial, during which Sirhan's lawyers argued he was mentally unstable at the time of the murder. On April 23, 1969 he was given the death penalty. However, in 1972, the California Supreme Court abolished the death penalty and Sirhan's sentence was commuted to life in prison. His requests for parole have been denied over a dozen times, and he continues to serve his time in a California prison.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California 1849-1949. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: