(NewsNation Now) — Kerry Kennedy, the seventh child and third daughter of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, spoke out forcefully on Friday’s Banfield broadcast against the recommended parole of her father’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan.
Kennedy was assassinated while running for president in 1968 by Sirhan, who never denied that he committed the crime. Sirhan was sentenced to death, but in 1972, California abolished capital punishment and Sirhan has lived as a prisoner ever since. On Friday, however, a two-person California board recommended that he be granted parole. The ultimate decision is now in the hands of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is facing a recall election.
The decision left many Kennedy family members and their friends “hurt, shocked, horrified, scared,” Kennedy told host Ashleigh Banfield. Kennedy said she “cannot understand how this parole board would let something like this happen. You know, he, he thought about (the assassination) in advance. He killed my father in cold blood (at a time when) my mother … was pregnant with my little sister, Laurie. There were a gazillion witnesses.”
One of Kerry’s siblings, her brother Douglas Kennedy, spoke in support of Sirhan at the virtual parole hearing.
“I haven’t seen his statement,” Kerry said of Douglas. “But … I understand he talked about the importance of compassion and forgiveness and love. And, you know, we’re all for compassion and forgiveness and love. But … if you have a puppy that goes into your shoe closet and chews up your shoes, you forgive it, but you don’t let him back in the shoe closet.”
Kennedy expressed hope that California’s governor would veto the parole board’s recommendation.
“I talked to him a few years ago, and he recited from memory about five different speeches (of) my father’s from start to finish … I’m hopeful that he will see this through the eyes of my family, and frankly, through (the eyes of) our country.”
Kennedy noted that parole decisions are supposed to be based on two factors — “the heinousness of the crime” originally committed and whether the criminal expreses “contrition” for commiting that crime.
For Sirhan to get a parole recommendation without saying “I’m sorry … that’s not what restorative justice is all about,” Kennedy said.
“This isn’t just about my family,” she added. “This is about our entire nation and the world who lost this great, compassionate, loving, peaceful leader at a time when we needed him most.”
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