Sirhan Sirhan, Assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, Granted Parole After 53 Years

Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, has been granted parole after 53 years in prison.

The California parole board reportedly released Sirhan after two of Kennedy's sons said they supported his release. However, Parole Board Commissioner Robert Barton said some of Kennedy's family members also sent letters opposing Sirhan's parole.

At his parole hearing, held remotely over webcam, Sirhan said his time behind bars hadn't made him angrier. Now 77 years old, he said he was committed to living peacefully.

"I would never put myself in jeopardy again," he said. "You have my pledge. I will always look to safety and peace and non-violence."

Kennedy's son, Robert Kennedy Jr., wrote a letter in favor of Sirhan's release.

"While nobody can speak definitively on behalf of my father, I firmly believe that based on his own consuming commitment to fairness and justice, that he would strongly encourage this board to release Mr. Sirhan because of Sirhan's impressive record of rehabilitation," he wrote.

sirhan sirhan robert kennedy parole granted
Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of presidential candidate and former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, was granted parole on Friday afternoon. This photo shows Sirhan during a 1984 parole hearing, which was denied. Bettmann/Getty

Sirhan's lawyer, Angela Berry, urged the board to base its decision on who Sirhan is today rather than his past conviction. During the hearing, she emphasized his record of exemplary behavior in prison as an indicator that he poses no danger to society.

A two-person panel presided over Sirhan's parole hearing. Sirhan has been eligible for parole since 1975 but had been denied it 15 times in the past.

The parole board now has 90 days to review the ruling. Afterward, the state government will have 30 days to either grant, reverse or modify the ruling. If Sirhan is released, he'll be required to live six months in transitional housing for ex-convicts. He'll also be enrolled in therapy and an alcohol abuse program. He could be deported to Jordan, the Associated Press reported.

Sirhan was convicted of killing Kennedy, who was a New York senator and Democrat presidential hopeful, on June 5, 1968. The assassination occurred at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California. Kennedy was shot three times in the hotel kitchen, just moments after his victory speech following his win in California's Democratic presidential primary. He died a day later. His murder occurred five years after his brother, President John F. Kennedy, was also assassinated.

During his 1969 trial, Sirhan admitted to killing Kennedy. Since then, however, he has maintained that he neither remembers killing Kennedy nor his admission to doing so in court. Sirhan said he only remembers the events before and after the murder.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has long maintained that Sirhan didn't fire the shots that killed his father and has called for a new investigation into his father's murder. Some of Kennedy's children have said they believe a second shooter may have been involved in his assassination, as well.

If Kennedy were alive today, he'd be 96 years old.

Newsweek contacted Berry for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.