the rfk challenge

This afternoon, while eating lunch, I watched video of Noam Chomsky shooting down the idea that the Bush administration could have been in any way involved in the 911 attacks on our country. In a nutshell, the professor said that while they benefited a great deal from the attacks, they couldn’t have done it. He said, if I can paraphrase, that no administration would be so stupid and reckless as to risk death by firing squad. It, in his opinion, would have just been too big of a gamble… Anyway, toward the end of the clip, he mentions the JFK assassination. Basically he said that it doesn’t matter who killed him. Lots of people get murdered, he said. He then went on to share his opinion that, again, the government was not involved… So, it was interesting to get home this evening and find that our friend, and fellow RFK admirer, Robert had posted a conspiracy-related challenge here at MM.com. Here it is, for those who missed it in the comments section:

I’m going to use Mark’s blog here as the stage from which I will issue a public, formal challenge, and to which I will attach a cash reward.

I am willing to pay $1,000 to the individual, or group of individuals, who can successfully argue in a formal public debate, the position that Sirhan acted alone (in the RFK assassination).

I will only ask that the debate be conducted formally and under courtroom rules, with right of cross examination, and with the final determination being made by a jury selected from volunteers, screened and approved by both sides

This debate would take place on June 5th, 2008, to mark the 40th anniversary of RFK’s assassination. So there would be plenty of time for both sides to research and prepare a complete case.

Do I have any takers?

As Robert still owes me two enchiladas from a previous bet, I can’t vouch that he’s good for it with any certainly, but he seems like a fairly reliable fellow. If nothing else, it would be an interesting exercise. I can’t recall much of it, but I seem to remember that the the mock trial of Lee Harvey Oswald went pretty entertaining.

If no one has reached for the phone yet, someone should give Robert’s sparring partner, Mel Ayton, a call. I don’t think that Noam would come to AnnArbor for a grand, but there’s a chance that Mel would. Who knows, if he agrees, maybe we could get a publicity-hungry former judge like Roy Moore to officiate. And, then, if we could just arrange for a live video feed of Sirhan, I bet we could get Court TV sponsorship. This could be just thing to put Michigan back on the map.

Does anyone else have a thousand dollar bet to announce?

[This post was brought to you by the dissolving evangelical power base, the rapidly consolidating American media, and the one thing that can save us.]

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82 Comments

  1. Ol' E Cross
    Posted October 29, 2007 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Public debate? I like those odds.

    So, basically, I need to smile more than Robert, spout half-truths and lies for an hour or so that are impossible to disprove and put him on the defensive, and then make vague innuendos that undermine his credibility.

    Since he actually cares, he’ll seem overly passionate, desperate, condescending, and easily flustered.

    Easy money. Dibs!

  2. Dr Cherry
    Posted October 29, 2007 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    “Why would a Wookiee, an eight-foot tall Wookiee, want to live on Endor, with a bunch of two-foot tall Ewoks? That does not make sense! But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case! It does not make sense!”

  3. KT
    Posted October 30, 2007 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    If the wooden chest shield doesn’t fit, you must acquit.

    (It’s an Ewok thing – you wouldn’t understand.)

    As long as we’re putting people on fake trial, I’d like to suggest we try George Bush for treason.

  4. Posted October 30, 2007 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Ol’E Cross, that’s why I insist on right of cross examination. I would love to cross Ol’E Cross, though I don’t underestimate the danger.

    Just to make it clear again, I am serious about the $1,000 challenge, and to prove I am good for it, I’ll be happy to have Mark Maynard hold the $1,000 pending the outcome of the debate. I was kinda hoping someone would try to get Mel to do it. I didn’t want to ask him myself, because we are not on the best terms. He might agree to it if it were to get enough press coverage that it would potentially sell a lot of his books.

    “A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.” – Robert Francis Kennedy 4/5/68

  5. Robert
    Posted October 30, 2007 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    KT, I think more people might be interested in your idea to conduct a trial of George Bush for treason. I’d be willing to take part in that too, on either side. I already know what my defense of him would be primarily…mental incapacitation.

  6. Robert
    Posted October 31, 2007 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    About the Chomsky clip; I like him, and I think he is trying to make what is generally a good point, and that is that a White House can’t exactly engineer the sort of thing that 9/11 was. But a lot of what he says is pretty weak as far as arguments go. For example, what is he talking about when he says, “You couldn’t predict that the plane would actually hit the World Trade Center. It happened that it did, but you know it could easily have missed.” That comment doesn’t even make any real sense. What’s he trying to say there exactly? And as far as what I would call the good part of his argument goes, it is just all way too vague. He avoids specifics. He says that “the evidence against” a “high level conspiracy” in the JFK assassination is “overwhelming.” I’ve heard people say stuff like this a lot, but never explain it. The truth is that there is very little, if any, evidence against it. That doesn’t mean there was a high level conspiracy, but to say that there is supposedly overwhelming evidence against it is just plain unsupportable as a statement. The vast majority of evidence doesn’t rule out either theory, lone-nut, or higher-level operators. One of the most significant problems with the JFK case is that there ISN’T a conclusive piece of evidence which excludes the possibility, or likelihood, that others were involved. There isn’t even a piece of evidence which strongly suggests there weren’t. Most cases involving crimes committed by lone individuals provide much evidence that the perpetrator was limited by the fact that they were acting completely alone. There is none of this in the Kennedy case, from what I have seen, heard or read. The science of criminal investigation is not as ‘soupy’ or undeveloped as most people seem to think. Accomplices are often captured, and it’s almost never by luck. Indications that a suspect has had one or more accomplices are not as difficult to find as most assume or accomplices usually anticipate. The evidence against Lee Harvey Oswald is wrought with those indicators. If he WAS the lone assassin, he would have had to set those indicators up intentionally. Now THAT would be a ridiculous thing to suggest.
    One of the things I think most people don’t understand about the quality of evidence is that it isn’t used so much to prove that a certain individual DID something, so much as it is used to prove that nobody else COULD have. Evidence isn’t good just because it matches your suspect. It’s good to the degree that it eliminates other possibilities. In almost all cases, this isn’t a problem.

    With the Kennedy assassinations, there is a fair to small amount of evidence which matches the crimes to the known suspects. But there is no evidence that eliminates all other possibilities. On top of that, there is a dramatic amount of circumstantial evidence to suggest other possibilities and even likelihoods.

    Chompsky’s statements about potential conspiracies in 9/11 are weak, and really nothing more than comments of opinion. But his point, about us concerning ourselves with the details of such things really probably only serves to take our attention from important on-going and developing issues, is very good.

  7. Robert
    Posted November 3, 2007 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    baaaawk, bawk, bok, bok, bok. (hands folded up into armpits, elbows out flapping)

  8. Robert
    Posted April 17, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    I’d place the $1,000 in the hands of Mark Maynard, and he would hold it until the conclusion of the debate. He could then present it to the individual determined to have made the most convincing case.

    I’m truely sorry I can’t put more money up right now. If I had a million dollars lying around, I’d put that up, because I would have absolutely no fear of losing the debate.

    I’d need a month to prepare though, so I’m setting May 5th, midnight, as the deadline for accepting my challenge.

  9. mark
    Posted April 17, 2008 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    I think Mel is ignoring you, Robert.

  10. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 18, 2008 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Robert,

    If you recall, I already agreed to debate you (scroll up, first post). More than that, I called “dibs.” Sure, I have no background and know nothing about the issues, but I got nothing to lose. Hell, I’d step into the ring with just about anything for a no risk long shot at just about anything. So stop pretending you don’t have a challenger, or I’ll have to start clucking.

    The only thing I need to know to prepare is whether the contest will be judged by audience reaction (so I know what to wear) or by judges (so I know what my take will be after I bribe the judges).

    Finally, I miss you. Where have you been? You left MM without saying goodbye…

  11. mark
    Posted April 18, 2008 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    I can’t believe you didn’t take the opportunity to link to the chicken dance. I’m disappointed, OEC.

  12. Speaking on Robert's behalf
    Posted April 18, 2008 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Robert wishes he had more time to comment on this blog, but he’s been incredibly busy ever since John Edwards withdrew from the campaign.

    (Is that better?)

  13. Robert
    Posted April 18, 2008 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Nobody would believe it was me in that chicken suit. Everyone knows I can’t even dance THAT well.

    And, Ol’E Cross, there’s no need to miss me. I’ve been around, just posting under different names so that I can continue being obnoxious and not have the comments attributed to me. Besides, I thought you knew I am actually Mark, using this “Robert” persona whenever I want to harp on this RFK stuff. Didn’t meeting “me” the other day prove I was phony? I didn’t think the crappy actor I hired to say he was Robert fooled anyone.

    If it’s just going to be you and me debating the RFK assassination, I think we can scale the whole production down a bit. You, me and uh Mark meeting at the Corner Brewery one evening and drinking a few beers while we present our arguments on the case would be sufficient. There’s no deadline for that challenge by the way.

    I should just make the challenge to Mel that I’ll buy 50 copies of his book if he shows.

  14. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 18, 2008 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    “Robert,” You can’t blame me for missing one of the most interesting personas Mark’s created since T.G. I tend to go for those fringe, cynical, yet feel-good personas like the Democratic Party’s John Edwards.

    Speaking of J.E., seeing him live again on The Colbert Report almost made me cry.

    Can anyone doubt he would’ve whipped McCain’s ass as much as you would’ve Mel’s?

    But, no use crying over spilt incumbency. Since you’re willing to venture into my home turf (the CB), I’m willing to drop the stakes from a grand to one grand beer. Oh, and the loser has to dance.

  15. mark
    Posted April 19, 2008 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I can probably put together a jury of 3 or 4 if you can keep the debate to an hour.

  16. Mark H.
    Posted April 19, 2008 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I volunteer to be a judge. But as a judge I cannot be subject to influence peddling, so I must buy my own drinks.

  17. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 20, 2008 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Mark H.

    Since I gather you have a passable knowledge of history and I’m still not sure which Kennedy shot Richard Nixon, I think you should debate Robert and I’ll be one of the judges.

    (Robert, I want 100 dollars cash up front, non-negotiable or else I’m throwing the whole thing to Mark H. and you’ll be down a grand. You’re getting off easy.)

  18. Mark H.
    Posted April 20, 2008 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Ol’E Cross, but I am not interested in being in the debate, i just want to hear it and have a beer with good folks from the mm.com community, and then be expected to have something “official” to say. i’ll buy the beer for all the debaters.

  19. Posted April 20, 2008 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    False personas on MM.com??? I didn’t know one could do that! Oh what fun I might have now!

    I don’t want to be a judge or debater. I’ll hold the wagers though until just before it’s over.

    OEC, Richard Nixon wasn’t shot! TK drowned him a freak automobile accident at Chapiquidic along with his girlfriend, Squeaky Frome.

  20. mark
    Posted April 20, 2008 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    As OEC is both brilliant and no longer employed, I have no doubt that he could familiarize himself with all the material in a matter of days.

    So, it’s decided. OEC against Rob at the Corner. Higbee and I will judge. John will hold the beer money.

    There will be a one hour time limit.

    The whole thing will be broadcast over the internet.

    OK?

  21. Mark H.
    Posted April 20, 2008 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    I like it, Mark. Very much.

  22. Robert
    Posted April 21, 2008 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    I’m in.

  23. Posted April 21, 2008 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m in. I don’t guarantee I can hold the beer money a whole hour without a bathroom trip; but, I’ll do my best.

    Who’s doing the webcast?

  24. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    I’ve been reluctant to write this but I’m doing so sincerely hoping it will benefit Robert and don’t know any other way around it. Robert, I’m sorry if it does more harm than good but I hope good will come of it.

    I finally met Robert, in person, at the last Beer with Bloggers event. What Mark doesn’t know is Robert and I had been e-mailing for some time. We connected over a number of issues, but most significantly over the fact that we were both adopted and had both attempted to contact our birth parents. Robert had more success than I. I hired an agency and for two years tried to contact my biological mother and she rejected multiple attempts to meet me. It’s not easy. I found out I have three siblings I’ll never know. It’s a pretty big thing.

    Robert had a somewhat better experience. His birth mom was very receptive and they are now close as Robert said, he has a second family. He can tell the details better than I, but in short, he found that his birth mother had studied in England for a semester, and, upon returning to the U.S. had discovered she was pregnant from a short-lived relationship in England and hid the fact from family and gave him up for adoption. She never told Robert’s biological dad about the pregnancy. But, she told Robert that, beyond doubt, his biological father was Mel Ayton. Robert discovered this in the mid-90s and, understandably, began to read all of Mel’s work and learn whatever he could about him. At some point, he tried to make contact with him but Mel refused to admit the relationship with Robert’s mother and ultimately refused to submit to paternity tests.

    As someone who struggled immensely with the second rejection of my birth mom, I can completely sympathize with why Robert became singularly focused on challenging Mel and seeking his attention. Robert knows my support for John Edwards is in large part because he came, from what I’ve learned, from the town I was born in and a town I’ve never been to since. I would do almost anything to meet or know more about my parents. I didn’t have the opportunity to pursue more. Robert did. I respect what he’s doing.

    To be quite candid, I’m not entirely unprepared for this debate. I was a history major as an undergrad, and did my senior paper on the Kennedy assassinations. Robert and I have e-mailed a good deal about this as well. He is very well versed on a number of inconsistencies, but, he’s only focused on refuting facts in Mel Ayton’s books. I was very surprised to find out how much other available material I’d read in my undergrad research that he was unfamiliar with, written by historians far more reputable than Mel Ayton. Frankly, in my final paper I didn’t even quote Mel Ayton. Everything he said was watered down from better sources. I don’t mean to diminish his knowledge, but Robert knows more about Mel Atyon’s views on RFK than he does about RFK. I think he’d admit as much.

    My posts on this have been my attempts to help Robert as a friend. I’ve tried to keep the thread alive in the hope that Mel will at least acknowledge Robert. I know Robert doesn’t want a new dad, he just wants personal resolution. I was trying to help smoke him out, I guess that’s what I’m doing now. But, it appears that Mel isn’t one to respond to challenges to his neatly managed version of history, either the world’s or his own.

    If we think the debate between Robert and I will help resolve some issue, I’m ready and willing. And, I’m always glad to have a beer with Robert, Mark, Mark and JoF. But I think we’d all enjoy the hour more debating something else.

    Robert, I’m sorry if I said too much, but I think it’s time Mel Ayton confronts the past. You’re intelligent and articulate. Maybe you got some of that from him, but, you’re no coward, for that, it looks like you should thank your mother.

  25. mark
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    Sounds like something that might best be addressed by the professionals at the Jerry Springer Show. As I understand it, they have a great deal of experience when it comes to bringing fathers and children together using paternity tests and such.

  26. Ol' E Cross
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    My last post, of course, is all lies. I figure I should clarify that lest Mel get angry with me, too. But, since my strategy in debating Robert has always rested entirely on making shit up for an hour and diminishing his credibility, I figured I should get in some practice.

  27. Robert
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    OEC, I think you’ve pretty much summed things up accurately, except one thing…I was always under the impression that this “RFK Challenge” was just our code word for getting drunk down at the Corner Brewery. I didn’t realize there was actually supposed to be some sort of debate for real.

  28. mark
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    So Robert didn’t meet Mel in a special two-hour holiday episode of “To Catch a Predator”?

    And I’m not sure where this leaves us. Are Robert, OEC, Mark, John and I going out to discuss the RFK assassination over beers? And, if so, am I allowed to tape it for distribution over the internet (assuming I can figure out how)?

  29. Mark H.
    Posted April 22, 2008 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Yes, Mark, i think you’ve summed up the plan. There will be a debate – structure and format to be determined — and it is to be taped and distributed on the internet.

    As Judge, I say, “it is so ordered.” If Robert or OEC disagree, they risk alienating the judges, which is never wise to do going into such a fierce competition as this.

  30. Robert
    Posted May 6, 2008 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    Well, midnight, last night was my deadline for anybody looking to accept my $1,000 challenge, and as I expected, nobody did.

    Like I said, a million dollars could have been the prize, and still nobody would have taken the challenge, not even Mel Ayton or the other two or three guys out there who claim to share his view and also actually know anything about the details of RFK assassination. The reason is simple…every bit of evidence, circumstantial and otherwise, can be clearly categorized in one of two ways; as suggestive of an organized hit or as inconclusive either way. There is absolutely no evidence which conclusively suggests Siran acted alone…absolutely none. There ARE however a few pieces of evidence that suggest conclusively that he could not have acted alone. In addition to that, there is a great deal of evidence which is not conclusive, but which strongly suggests there were several additional individuals involved in various ways.

    With all the fascination people apparently have with C.S.I. type shows these days, I’m somewhat surprised at how little nearly everyone knows about actual crimes, investigation methods and the nature of evidence. I’m especially surprised when there is so little interest in these things when they pertain to significant events in our nations history.

    Next time any of you happen to be at a social event or something and you are introduced to a federal or state judge, prosecutor, or detective, ask them to give you an estimate of the prevalence of organized crime…no details, just a general estimate. Ask them what they would guess the ratio of all organized criminal activities is in relation to those which are investigated, those which are brought to trial and those which ultimately lead to a conviction. I promise you’ll learn something, and it will likely even shock you.

  31. Steph'd Dad
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t know where to post this, but there’s some new conspiracy fodder out today. Marilyn Monroe, in her handwritten diary, which came out in print this week, says that she feared for her life around Peter Lawford.

    the feeling of violence I’ve had lately

    about being afraid
    of Peter he might
    harm me,
    poison me, etc.
    why—strange look in his eyes—strange
    behavior
    in fact now I think I know
    why he’s been here so long
    because I have a need to
    be frighten[ed]—and nothing really
    in my personal relationships
    (and dealings) lately
    have been frightening me—except
    for him—I felt very uneasy at different
    times with him—the real reason
    I was afraid of him—is because I believe
    him to be homosexual—not in the
    way I love & respect and admire [Jack]
    who I feel feels I have talent
    and wouldn’t be jealous
    of me because I wouldn’t
    really want to
    be me

    whereas Peter wants
    to be a woman—and
    would like to be me—I think

    It’s long been suggested that Lawford had a hand in her death, perhaps arranging it on behalf of the Kennedy family.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/features/2010/11/marilyn-monroe-201011

  32. Robert
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    (Reuters) – The man serving a life sentence for the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy was denied parole for a 13th time on Wednesday, California corrections officials said.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/03/us-sirhan-hearing-idUSTRE72202S20110303

  33. Robert
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    CONVICTED RFK ASSASSIN SAYS GIRL MANIPULATED HIM
    By LINDA DEUTSCH

    http://www.sacbee.com/2011/04/28/3587081/convicted-rfk-assassin-says-girl.html#ixzz1KvH74Wp7

    LOS ANGELES — Convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan was manipulated by a seductive girl in a mind control plot to shoot Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and his bullets did not kill the presidential candidate, lawyers for Sirhan said in new legal papers.

    The documents filed this week in federal court detail extensive interviews with Sirhan during the past three years, some done while he was under hypnosis.

    The papers point to a mysterious girl in a polka-dot dress as the controller who led Sirhan to fire a gun in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel. But the documents suggest a second person shot and killed Kennedy while using Sirhan as a diversion.

    For the first time, Sirhan said under hypnosis that on a cue from the girl he went into “range mode” believing he was at a firing range and seeing circles with targets in front of his eyes.

    “I thought that I was at the range more than I was actually shooting at any person, let alone Bobby Kennedy,” Sirhan was quoted as saying during interviews with Daniel Brown, a Harvard University professor and expert in trauma memory and hypnosis. He interviewed Sirhan for 60 hours with and without hypnosis, according to the legal brief.

    Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney, said prosecutors were unaware of the legal filing and could not comment.

    The story of the girl has been a lingering theme in accounts of the events just after midnight on June 5, 1968, when Kennedy was gunned down in the hotel pantry after claiming victory in the California Democratic presidential primary.

    Witnesses talked of seeing such a female running from the hotel shouting, “We shot Kennedy.” But she was never identified, and amid the chaos of the scene, descriptions were conflicting.

    Dan Moldea, author of the 1995 book, “The Killing Of Robert F. Kennedy,” said he interviewed Sirhan then and concluded he was the lone gunman who shot Kennedy.

    He acknowledged the account of Sirhan seeing circle targets was new.

    “I think Sirhan’s new theory about what happened is nonsense,” Moldea said. “Sirhan was lying from the outset and he continues to lie, and his attorneys are enabling him to continue that lie.”

    Through the years, Sirhan has claimed no memory of shooting Kennedy and said in the recent interviews that his presence at the hotel was an accident, not a planned destination.

    Under hypnosis, he remembered meeting the girl that night and becoming smitten with her. He said she led him to the pantry.

    “I am trying to figure out how to hit on her … That’s all that I can think about,” he said in one interview cited in the documents. “I was fascinated with her looks …. She never said much. It was very erotic. I was consumed by her. She was a seductress with an unspoken unavailability.”

    Brown was hired by Sirhan’s lawyer William F. Pepper.

    Pepper’s associate, attorney Laurie Dusek, attended the interviews. and Brown said in the documents they both took verbatim notes because prison officials would not let them tape record nearly all the sessions.

    Sirhan maintained in the hypnotic interviews that the mystery girl touched him or “pinched” him on the shoulder just before he fired then spun him around to see people coming through the pantry door.

    “Then I was on the target range … a flashback to the shooting range … I didn’t know that I had a gun,” Sirhan said.

    Under what Brown called the condition of hypnotic free recall, he said Sirhan remembered seeing the flash of a second gun at the time of the assassination. Without hypnosis, he said, Sirhan could not remember that shot.

    Pepper, a New York lawyer with an international practice, previously tried to prove that James Earl Ray was not the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.

    The lawyer said he is convinced that Sirhan was a victim of a mind control project such as those used by the CIA in the 1960s. He is seeking an evidentiary hearing to exonerate Sirhan in Kennedy’s killing.

    Dusek said in an interview that Sirhan was hypnotized for perhaps 30 percent of the interviews, most of which had to be done through a glass partition with Brown talking to him on a phone.

    Only when Sirhan was moved from the state prison at Corcoran to his current location at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga were they allowed face-to-face visits, she said, and a few of those were recorded.

    Other portions of the motion allege suppression of ballistics evidence and the autopsy report, and claim ineffective assistance of counsel. It contends previous lawyers for Sirhan accepted from the start that he was the lone shooter, settled on a defense of diminished capacity and did not seek other avenues of defense.

    During the trial, Sirhan tried to confess to killing Kennedy “with 20 years of malice aforethought,” but the judge rejected the blurted statement.

    A large portion of the new documents seek to prove the bullets that hit Kennedy came from a different direction than the spot where Sirhan was standing. The papers do not name any other possible shooter.

    Sirhan was denied parole in March by a panel that said he had not shown sufficient remorse for the killing.

  34. Robert
    Posted December 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    SIRHAN SIRHAN, ASSASSIN OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY, LAUNCHES NEW CAMPAIGN FOR FREEDOM 42 YEARS LATER

    By Jacqui Goddard in Miami
    8:09PM GMT 03 Dec 2011

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8933592/Sirhan-Sirhan-assassin-of-Robert-F.Kennedy-launches-new-campaign-for-freedom-42-years-later.html

    Lawyers for Robert F Kennedy’s killer Sirhan Sirhan claim to have new evidence that will free him from prison, 42 years after he was jailed for assassinating the US senator.

    They say the new material hands them “game, set and match” in their campaign to release him from the life sentence he was given on being convicted for gunning down the senator at a California hotel.

    They have launched a fresh appeal on behalf of Sirhan, 67, claiming in court for the first time that prosecutors fabricated ballistics evidence against him at trial, switching a bullet that was taken from the dead senator’s neck for one that they claimed matched the defendant’s gun.

    Lawyers also seek a re-examination of claims that Sirhan was framed by shadowy agents – indirectly suggested as being the CIA – who they say “hypno-programmed” him into taking part in the shooting to divert attention from their own fatal gunfire.

    Court documents filed in federal court in Los Angeles now pull together years of research, evidentiary documents and psychological analyses of Sirhan for a case that his lawyer says proves him as a victim of “an egregious miscarriage of justice” and “horrendous violations” of his legal rights.

    “On the law, and on the evidence, it’s game set and match to us. It’s all over,” Dr William Pepper told The Sunday Telegraph.

  35. Posted December 28, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Click my name above to hear Sirhan’s attorney William Pepper talk about the new case on BlackOp Radio.

  36. Posted December 28, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    (soft whisper): We have secretly replaced Robert’s propeller beanie with an Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie (AFDB) to amplify the the radio signals being picked up by his amalgam fillings. Let’s see if he notices.

  37. Deepthroat
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Here’s something else you might want to look into.

    http://pastebin.com/WPE73rhy

  38. Robert
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Michael Calder: “In the days after the shooting, during the Grand Jury proceedings, Thomas Noguchi, the autopsy surgeon, told the jury he recovered a bullet from the back of RFK. He put his initials TN 31 on the bullet for identification. By the time the trial started and in subsequent legal proceedings, TN31 had disappeared replaced by a bullet that now had the initials, DW for DeWayne Wolfer, the lead criminalist on the case.”

  39. Robert
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    For those of you who aren’t afflicted with A.D.D…

    APPEAL AIMS TO FREE ROBERT F. KENNEDY’S ASSASSIN
    LAWYERS CLAIM SIRHAN SIRHAN WAS FRAMED, AND SAY THEY CAN PROVE IT
    By Jacqui Goddard, Sunday Telegraph
    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Appeal+aims+free+Robert+Kennedy+assassin/5811707/story.html

    Lawyers for Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin claim to have evidence that hands them “game, set and match” in their campaign to free him from his life sentence, 42 years after he was jailed for gunning down the senator in a California hotel.

    They have launched a fresh appeal case on behalf of Sirhan Sirhan, 67, claiming in court for the first time that prosecutors fabricated ballistics evidence against him at trial, switching a bullet that was taken from the dead senator’s neck for one they said matched the defendant’s gun.

    Lawyers are also seeking a re-examination of claims that Sirhan was framed by agents – indirectly suggested as being the CIA – who they say “hypno-programmed” him into taking part in the shooting to divert attention from their own fatal gunfire.

    Court documents filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles pull together years of research, documents and psychological analyses of Sirhan for a case that his lawyer says proves him as a victim of “an egregious miscarriage of justice” and “horrendous violations” of his legal rights.

    “On the law, and on the evidence, it’s game set and match to us. It’s all over,” William Pepper said.

    “But we are dealing with a highprofile political assassination that involves the government and government agencies and a coverup for 43 years. So I’m not confident that we are going to overcome the politics, but I’m confident that they have got to give us an evidentiary hearing and put all this under oath in a court of law, which has never happened.”

    ALTERED POLITICAL COURSE

    Kennedy died on June 6, 1968, one day after the shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, where he had been celebrating victory in the California primary of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. He had just delivered his victory address in the ballroom and was taking a short cut out of the hotel through the crowded kitchen when Sirhan stepped forward and opened fire.

    The senator’s death altered the course of American politics and shocked a country still coming to terms with the assassination four and a half years earlier of his brother, President John F Kennedy, by Lee Harvey Oswald.

    At trial in 1969, Sirhan – a Palestinian Christian refugee – was asked by his defence counsel, Grant Cooper, whether he had shot Senator Kennedy. “Yes sir,” he replied, echoing admissions made in police custody directly after the incident.

    “Do you doubt you shot him?” Cooper demanded. “No sir, I don’t,” Sirhan responded, launching into a diatribe about U.S. policy in the Middle East and later stating that he resented Kennedy’s support for Israel.

    “RFK must die – RFK must be killed,” he wrote in a notebook before the shooting.

    But despite multiple confessions, insists Pepper, Sirhan did not shoot Kennedy. Chief among the new evidence is a claim that prosecutors switched bullets in evidence to incriminate him.

    When the coroner, Dr. Thomas Noguchi, removed a bullet from the politician’s neck during a post-mortem examination, he marked it with the handwritten reference “TN31.”

    Yet on an inventory of the exhibits that were presented in court during Sirhan’s 1969 trial, the bullet – suggested by prosecutors to match Sirhan’s .22-calibre Iver-Johnson Cadet revolver – is referenced “DWTN.” “Those markings showed that the bullet they put into evidence was different to the one Noguchi, the medical examiner, removed from Kennedy’s neck,” said Pepper.

    “This was a fraud perpetrated on the court. Under the law they should set aside the verdict and re-try Sirhan or set him free.”

    CONFLICTING EVIDENCE

    Other evidence that defence lawyers believe now qualifies for re-examination are witness statements that place Sirhan in front of Kennedy at the time of the shooting, when medical evidence has shown that he was shot from behind.

    Detailed technical analysis of the only audio recording made of the shooting is also contained in the latest appeal documents, backing claims that there were 13 or more shots fired at the scene while Sirhan’s weapon was capable of firing only eight.

    Using forensic techniques not available in the 1960s and described in court documents as being “light years ahead of listening to the tape with the human ear,” Philip Van Praag, an Arizona-based audio engineer and computer technologist, concluded that there were many shots fired and from more than one gun.

    Analysis of the sound waves and vibrations “revealed a frequency anomaly with respect to five of the shots, indicating that a second gun was fired, of a make and model different from that which [Sirhan] fired.”

    Van Praag’s report said: “In the pantry, [Sirhan] was firing from east to west, whilst another gun was firing five shots from west to east.”

    Sirhan’s defence has previously attempted to claim that he was a victim of sinister mind-control by unidentified agents who programmed him to shoot under hypnosis. It is now renewing that claim, based on studies of Sirhan by Dr. Daniel Brown of Harvard University, a specialist in trauma memory and hypnosis, who dismisses the notion that the convicted assassin is, or ever was, schizophrenic as “blatantly wrong.”

    Sirhan was “an involuntary participant in the crimes being committed because he was subjected to sophisticated hypno-programming and memory implantation techniques which rendered him unable to consciously control his thoughts and actions at the time the crimes were being committed,” the court petition states.

    Files from the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department corroborate some details of Sirhan’s claim that he was manipulated by a third party, Brown adds. For example, Sirhan recalled under questioning by Brown that he was taken to a police firing range and shown by the range master how to shoot at vital organs on human targets. “He also described a man with a turned down moustache and foreign accent who first introduced to him the idea of killing government officials.

    “Months after the petitioner [Sirhan] recalled these details, I found an entry in the police file that corroborated the petitioner’s free recall. The entry showed that not only did such a firing range exist, but that petitioner visited that police firing range and signed the register just days before the assassination.

    “He was accompanied by a man with a turned down moustache and a foreign accent. The man refused to identify himself or sign the register,” Brown said.

    ANTIWAR CANDIDATE

    Conspiracy theorists have for years sought to debunk the theory that Sirhan was a lone, crazed assassin with a personal and political vendetta, suggesting that Kennedy was targeted by the CIA or others because he was on course to win the Democratic nomination for president, posing a threat to incumbent Richard Nixon and – as an antiwar candidate – raising the prospect of pulling the U.S. out of the war in Vietnam.

    Other “suspects” include an unidentified woman in a polka-dot dress, seen by two witnesses, said to have stood next to Sirhan before he fired and to have shouted “We shot him” as she fled, and a security guard.

    Sirhan is incarcerated at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California, a grim 260-hectare facility that has experienced riots, escapes, hunger strikes, a murder and shootings.

    He is kept alone in a cell but is being considered for a shared cell, where his notoriety could put him at risk.

    “If they move him, we have to be concerned that he stays alive. People can get killed. The idea of double-celling does concern us,” said his lawyer.

  40. Edward
    Posted January 5, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Am I missing something, or do these two stories on agree? The first that you mention, Robert, says that the substitute bullet was marked “DW” for DeWayne Wolfer, the lead criminalist on the case. The second article, however, says that the bullet in question was marked with “DWTN.” Is there not even agreement on what, right now, is written on this bullet, which I’m assuming is still in evidence?

  41. Robert
    Posted January 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Michael Calder had just left out the “TN” part when he commented. I probably shouldn’t have shared his comment, because of his ommission. I did it and then decided it would be better to post the article.

    But, to answer your question, there actually is pretty much full agreement amongst everyone on the details stated in the article, at least amongst everybody who dosn’t avoid the discussion all together. Those who we might assume would want to disagree have remained absolutely silent on the subject. The police who are being accused of falsifying evidence have not responded or bothered to explain anything.

  42. John Galt
    Posted January 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    The free market solves all problems.
    RFK threatened the status quo.
    A solution presented itself.
    Money changed hands.
    The United States when right on rocking.

  43. Robert
    Posted February 15, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    PROSECUTORS, ATTORNEYS ARGUE: WAS THERE A SECOND GUNMAN IN RFK’S ASSASSINATION?
    By Michael Martinez and Brad Johnson, CNN

    Los Angeles (CNN) — Most Americans know of the Zapruder film of the JFK assassination — the one and only visual recording of the killing of an American president.

    Less known is another controversial recording — this one an audio tape — of the other Kennedy assassination, that of the president’s younger brother.

    It is the one and only sound tape of the RFK murder in 1968. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was fatally shot in a Los Angeles hotel while making his own bid for the White House five years after President John F. Kennedy’s murder.

    That long-forgotten sound recording — uncovered by a CNN International senior writer and highlighted on CNN BackStory in 2009 — is now at the heart of an ongoing court effort by convicted RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan to win a new trial or freedom.

    In their first in-depth court filing, prosecutors this month addressed the existence of the tape and a controversial analysis of it by an audio expert: the sounds of 13 shots can be counted on the tape, even though there were only eight bullets in Sirhan’s sole gun, which he had no opportunity to reload.

    So, was there a second gunman involved in RFK’s assassination?

    Just as the Zapruder film raised questions in some theorists’ minds about whether a second gunman was involved in JFK’s death, the audio tape is being used as evidence in Sirhan’s new legal effort to assert a second assassin was involved in RFK’s murder.

    In documents filed this month in federal court, California Attorney General Kamala Harris acknowledged the existence of the recording of the RFK shooting made by freelance reporter Stanislaw Pruszynski, who was covering Kennedy’s presidential campaign and was about 40 feet away from the hotel kitchen pantry shooting.

    Acoustic expert Philip Van Praag, featured in the CNN BackStory program, said his analysis of the tape concluded that at least 13 shots were fired.

    That meant a second gun had to be involved, according to his analysis.

    In her overall legal argument, Harris dismissed the second-gun assertion, citing “debunking” evidence.

    But California’s top prosecutor was finally forced to engage the second-gun analysis, and that legal development marked a new chapter in one of America’s great political tragedies — RFK’s death — and the case of the man convicted of his assassination, according to Sirhan’s attorneys.

    Prosecutors’ engagement of the second-gun argument was stated clearly in court papers, when the California attorney general said about Sirhan’s petition: “Petitioner at most has shown that, according to Van Praag, two guns could be heard firing 13 shots in an audiotape of the shooting.”

    At another point, Harris stated: “The mere possibility that more than one firearm was discharged during the assassination does not dismantle the prosecution’s case.”

    William F. Pepper, a New York attorney now representing Sirhan, said this month’s court filing raised public “recognition” of a second gunman now being advanced by Sirhan and his attorneys.

    Mindful of a nation’s pain surrounding the Kennedy assassinations, Pepper is careful to note he was a political supporter of RFK in the 1960s. He adds that in 1999, he represented Rev. Martin Luther King’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit concerning King’s April 4, 1968, murder and successfully persuaded a Memphis, Tennessee, jury to find Lloyd Jowers responsible as an accomplice in the King assassination.

    Pepper believes Sirhan was hypno-programmed to be a diversion gunman for the real assassin in RFK’s murder.

    “What is of interest is that there now seems to be more recognition of the fact that there was a second shooter, well positioned to put three bullets into the Senator from close powder burn range behind him, whilst Sirhan was always some distance in front of him,” Pepper said in an e-mail to CNN.

    Sirhan’s insistence on the presence of a second gunman is highly controversial — and it is questioned by some, such as legal expert Robert Shapiro, the defense attorney who gained prominence for successfully defending O.J. Simpson in the 1990s.

    In fact, when Shapiro was in his last year of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles in 1968, he was at the Ambassador Hotel where RFK was shot. Shapiro had just heard Kennedy’s speech after winning the California primary for the Democratic presidential nomination, but Shapiro said he was in a room next to the pantry where Kennedy was fatally wounded and Shapiro only heard, not saw, the gunfire, he said.

    “So let’s say that there was a second gun. Does that relieve him of any responsibility?” Shapiro said of Sirhan. “Even if there is a second, third or fourth gun, it’s irrelevant to his claim that he’s not responsible.”

    Shapiro remembers the night of RFK’s assassination as “horrifying and one that you’ll never forget.”

    “That’s like 44 years ago. Unbelievable. I remember it vividly,” Shapiro said. “I think about it now when I go by there and see a school being built there,” on the site of the old Ambassador Hotel.

    “It’s interesting, but conspiracy theories will come out on every single case imaginable,” he added.

    Shapiro isn’t a party in the latest court action.

    In rebutting Sirhan’s contentions, Harris criticizes the method of analysis used by the acoustic expert.

    “As reflected in Van Praag’s declaration, his conclusions depend on numerous assumptions he made in recreating the shooting, such as the location of Pruszynski’s recorder, the make and model of the ‘second’ gun, the location of this second gun during the shooting, and the number of shots fired by petitioner before he was grabbed by others,” Harris wrote in court papers.

    “Moreover, Van Praag’s tests necessarily involved his own personal interpretation of whether impulse sounds in the recording were actually gunshots. In turn, there is no dispute herein that Van Praag’s interpretation or opinion about the number of shots and firearms is not universally accepted by acoustics experts and that the opinions of qualified experts are available to rebut or challenge Van Praag’s controversial opinions,” Harris said.

    Harris further stated that even if it could be proven “that a second gunman successfully shot Senator Kennedy, (Sirhan) would still be guilty of the charged crimes” under California law.

    Countering that, Sirhan’s defense argues he was hypno-programmed to be the diversion, and that is based on a psychological examination by Daniel Brown, an associate clinical professor in psychology at Harvard Medical School who has interviewed Sirhan for 60 hours over three years, Pepper said.

    “The inescapable conclusion was that Sirhan was subject to hypno-programming which involved the use of drugs and hypnosis,” Pepper said in an e-mail. “Consequently, he was not in control of his actions on that night and cannot be legally responsible for them.

    “I mention, as well, that Dan Brown’s conclusion was precisely the same as that of Dr. (Edward) Simson-Kallas, who extensively examined and worked with Sirhan when he was in prison right after the trial,” Pepper said.

    Simson-Kallas was a prison psychologist, according to court papers.

    “That these techniques were developed and used by the CIA over a 50-year period was also well documented, in our brief, by Professor Alan Scheflin, the leading expert on these practices,” Pepper wrote to CNN. Scheflin, of the Santa Clara University School of Law, is an expert in the field of mind and behavior control.

    Because Sirhan was under the mind control of conspirators, he wasn’t legally responsible for his actions, and he should be freed or given a new trial, his attorneys contend.

    The attorney general, however, said the psychological evaluation of Sirhan is undermined by a failure to provide “any concrete evidence … about when, where and how (Sirhan) was programmed, about the identity of the ‘malevolent hypnotist,’ or about how the hypnotist happened to find (Sirhan) as his or her ideal subject for mind control.

    “Without any independent evidence that (Sirhan) was actually hypno-programmed against his will to write about his intention to kill Senator Kennedy, to plan the murder, and to shoot Senator Kennedy on June 5, 1968, Brown’s opinions about the possibility of mind control are insufficient evidence of actual innocence,” Harris wrote.

    Sirhan and his legal team have until February 22 to file in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles their response to the attorney general, Pepper said.

  44. Posted March 4, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    ATTORNEYS FOR RFK CONVICTED KILLER SIRHAN PUSH ‘SECOND GUNMAN’ ARGUMENT

    Los Angeles (CNN) — If there was a second gunman in Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, who was it?

    Lawyers for convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan claim their client did not fire any of the gunshots that struck the presidential candidate in 1968. And in their latest federal court filing, they also rule out another man some have considered a suspect — a private security guard named Thane Eugene Cesar, who was escorting Kennedy at the time he was shot.

    Attorneys William Pepper and Laurie Dusek insist someone other than their client, Sirhan, fatally shot Kennedy. They now say the real killer was not Cesar, a part-time uniformed officer long suspected by some conspiracy theorists of playing a sinister role in the senator’s murder.

    Pepper and Dusek made the claim in papers submitted to a U.S. District Court in Los Angeles last week.

    Attempts by CNN to contact Cesar, a relative of his and a former attorney of his were unsuccessful.

    Prosecutors, attorneys argue: Was there a second gunman?

    Cesar was walking behind Kennedy and drew his service revolver as Sirhan fired his own handgun in a Los Angeles hotel on June 5, 1968, only moments after the candidate claimed victory in California’s Democratic primary election. The gunfire in the Ambassador Hotel left the senator the most seriously wounded of six shooting victims. Kennedy died the following day while the other five survived.

    Sirhan was the only person arrested, tried and convicted of murdering the candidate and wounding the others. Now 67, he is serving a life sentence at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California.

    Pepper and Dusek are trying to win Sirhan immediate freedom or a new trial based on what they call “formidable evidence” of his innocence and “horrendous violations” of his rights. The New York attorneys argue that two guns were fired in the assassination, that Sirhan’s revolver was not the gun that shot Kennedy and that Sirhan was not responsible for his actions at the Ambassador.

    Instead, the defense lawyers insist Sirhan was “hypno-programmed” by conspirators to be a diversion for the real assassin in Kennedy’s murder.

    Going back to the time of the murder

    At the time of Kennedy’s shooting, Cesar and two hotel captains were escorting the presidential candidate through the Ambassador’s kitchen service pantry. Cesar, working as a special officer for the Ace Guard Service, was carrying his service revolver in a right-side holster.

    For decades, some have publicly speculated that just such an armed security guard could have been a second shooter — perhaps even the real killer, they have theorized — who fired bullets from behind Kennedy while Sirhan fired his shots from in front as a distraction, wounding bystanders.

    A few hours after the assassination, Cesar told Los Angeles police he was immediately behind Kennedy, holding the senator’s right elbow with his left hand, when Sirhan suddenly appeared and began firing. The guard told police he reacted to Sirhan by pulling his own gun from his holster with his right hand.

    Prosecutors rebut Sirhan’s claims

    But Cesar also told police he never actually fired his weapon. However, because authorities did not check his gun or perform an examination to determine whether he had just shot a weapon, some people have speculated Cesar could have fired his gun in the pantry.

    Court arguments

    In their court brief filed February 22, Sirhan’s lawyers said that Cesar is “believed in some quarters (not here) to be the second gunman.”

    “It is my personal belief, at this time, that the security guard, Cesar, was not the second shooter,” William Pepper said in e-mail to CNN.

    But Pepper added Cesar still might have been involved in an assassination conspiracy.

    “He may well have played a role,” he said.

    “I have information but cannot reveal it at this time,” said Pepper, who insisted that his information requires a new trial for Sirhan or, at minimum, an evidentiary hearing. “We need an evidentiary hearing to deal with the second shooter and his identity,” he added.

    Cesar has long denied involvement in Robert Kennedy’s assassination and, after years of harassment over the murder, he was believed at one point to have moved outside the United States.

    But Pepper told CNN, “I believe that he has returned to the U.S. from the Philippines, where he resided for a number of years.”

    Sirhan seeks prison release

    Pepper and his co-counsel also allege fraud was committed at Sirhan’s 1969 trial when prosecutors allowed substitute bullets to be admitted as evidence in place of the real bullets removed from Kennedy’s neck and shooting survivor Ira Goldstein’s hip.

    “There was a fraud on the court with respect to the ballistics evidence, I think this is quite clear,” Pepper told CNN. “The remedy is a new trial or (Sirhan’s) release.”

    Opposing Pepper’s and Dusek’s efforts in federal court, California Attorney General Kamala Harris said in recent court papers that the ballistics allegations fall “well short of dismantling the prosecution’s overwhelming case” against Sirhan.

    In a federal court brief submitted February 1, Harris said Sirhan’s original prosecution never relied on ballistics or forensic evidence because he was detained “in the process of shooting at the victim and was the killer by all credible accounts.”

    At the Ambassador Hotel

    In 1968, the 42-year-old Robert Kennedy, younger brother of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, was a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination against then-Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy.

    On the night of his assassination, Kennedy’s supporters were gathered for a rally at the Ambassador Hotel, which was razed a few years ago and replaced by a public high school named for the late senator.

    Kennedy had just appeared on live nationwide television in the hotel’s Embassy Room ballroom to claim victory over McCarthy in the California primary. Moments later, at a quarter past midnight, he was fatally wounded in the kitchen pantry while heading for a press conference set for a small banquet room just beyond the pantry.

    Three bullets struck Kennedy’s body while a fourth bullet passed harmlessly through the shoulder of his suit coat.

    The assassination itself was not captured by any cameras — only its bloody aftermath was caught on film — but the sounds of the shooting were preserved on the audiotape of a single cassette recorder being carried by freelance newspaper reporter Stanislaw Pruszynski, who did not know his microphone was still on.

    ABC News television videotape of the ballroom where Kennedy had just claimed victory in the primary shows Pruszynski holding his recording equipment in his left hand while descending a small set of ballroom steps, approximately 40 feet away from the kitchen pantry shooting, and moving toward a corridor accessing the pantry — all of that during the five to six seconds when the shots were being fired in the pantry, off camera.

    At the heart of the second-gun theory

    The Pruszynski recording — uncovered by a CNN International senior writer in 2004 and highlighted on CNN’s “BackStory” in 2009 — is now at the heart of the second-gun evidence in Sirhan’s court effort.

    Watch 2009 CNN “BackStory” report on recording

    Sirhan’s lawyers say the audiotape reveals that a second gun fired at least five shots in addition to the eight shots fired by their client. Pepper and Dusek base this on an analysis of the recording by audio expert Philip Van Praag, who has concluded that the sounds of at least 13 shots can be counted on the tape, even though there were only eight bullets in Sirhan’s one and only gun, which he had no opportunity to reload.

    “Sirhan was set up to be the distracting actor, whilst the shooter bent down close behind Bob (Kennedy) and fired close and upward, with four bullets hitting the senator’s body or passing through his clothing,” Pepper told CNN.

    In her court papers filed a month ago, California’s attorney general conceded that Sirhan’s lawyers may be able to show two guns were involved in Kennedy’s assassination.

    Harris wrote that Sirhan’s defense team “at most has shown that, according to Van Praag, two guns could be heard firing 13 shots in an audiotape of the shooting.”

    But Harris called Van Praag’s analysis “pure speculation.”

    “In sum, (Sirhan) cannot possibly show that no reasonable juror would have convicted him if a jury had considered his ‘new’ evidence and allegations, in light of the overwhelming evidence supporting the convictions and the available evidence thoroughly debunking (Sirhan’s) second-shooter and automaton theories,” Harris said in court papers

    Pepper and Dusek say Van Praag’s conclusions are not speculation, but are “based on solid scientific evidence,” and Pepper says Harris’ recent court filing has now raised public recognition of the second-gunman scenario that he and Dusek are advancing.

    “What is of interest is that there now seems to be more recognition of the fact that there was a second shooter, well positioned to put three bullets into the senator from close powder-burn range behind him, whilst Sirhan was always some distance in front of him,” Pepper told CNN.

    The Van Praag audio analysis concludes that the Pruszynski recording is authentic and that all 13 sounds are gunshots — not a single one of them a bursting balloon or any other non-shot noise, shot ricochet or echo.

    It also finds that some of the shots were fired too rapidly, at intervals too close together for all the shots to have come from Sirhan’s inexpensive handgun, and that the five shots which Van Praag says were fired opposite the direction of Sirhan’s eight shots — those five being the 3rd, 5th, 8th, 10th and 12th shots in the sequence — displayed an acoustical “frequency anomaly” indicating the alleged second gun’s make and model were different from Sirhan’s weapon.

    Did other recordings capture gunshots?

    Until recent years, some researchers thought that other recordings might have captured the sounds of the kitchen pantry gunshots. However, Van Praag has concluded that audiotapes made at the Ambassador by radio reporters Andrew West and Jeff Brent did not record any of the shots. He also says he found no gunshots in sound tracks from any of the other known films or videotapes recorded that night.

    Pepper and Dusek insist none of Sirhan’s eight shots hit Kennedy. Instead, they argue, the senator was struck in the body by three of at least five shots, which they believe were secretly fired by a second gunman who was positioned in back of the candidate.

    The New York attorneys say witnesses — even including some of the original prosecution witnesses — reported Sirhan was standing several feet in front of Kennedy and firing almost horizontally, even though the medical evidence showed Kennedy’s body and clothing were struck by four bullets fired at upward angles point-blank from behind the senator.

    Pepper and Dusek say witnesses reported bystanders grabbed Sirhan immediately after he fired his first two shots and that they had his firing arm pinned against a steam table, forcing Sirhan to fire his gun’s remaining six bullets away from Kennedy, thus striking other people instead.

    The defense lawyers argue that over the years, private researchers have found physical evidence of more than eight bullets fired in the Kennedy shooting but that authorities did not report extra bullets removed from the crime scene or bullet-riddled hotel wood panels and ceiling tiles — and instead secretly disposed of the alleged items.

    Sirhan and his memory

    For decades after the 1968 assassination, Sirhan claimed he could not remember the Kennedy shooting. Pepper and Dusek argue this was because he was hypno-programmed by conspirators to fire his gun in the pantry and to then forget the shooting, his programming and those who programmed him. They say that for many years Sirhan himself believed he shot Kennedy because people told him he did.

    In 2008, Pepper and Dusek hired a Harvard University memory expert who says he got the imprisoned Sirhan to recall the Kennedy shooting for the first time.

    That expert is Daniel Brown, an associate clinical professor in psychology at Harvard Medical School. He is described in the defense team’s court papers as “one of the world’s foremost experts in hypno programming.”

    Brown interviewed Sirhan for 60 hours over a three-year period. According to Pepper and Dusek, Brown says Sirhan now remembers that when he fired his shots in the pantry he believed he was at a gun range and shooting at circular targets.

    Sirhan’s lawyers say Brown believes Sirhan was programmed to do this so as to cause a distraction in the pantry, allowing a second gunman to secretly shoot Kennedy from behind. They say Brown believes a mysterious young woman in a polka dot dress lured Sirhan into the pantry as part of the alleged mind control plot.

    According to the defense attorneys, Brown says Sirhan now remembers hearing loud sounds he describes as “the thunderclap of other bullets” being fired by another gun in the pantry. They say Brown says Sirhan also recalls seeing at least one flash in front of him that he associates with gunfire inside the pantry but not coming from his own weapon.

    In reply, Harris told the court last month “the theory that a person could be hypnotized into planning and committing a murder against his will is a controversial (if not fantastic) one and has not been adopted by most of Brown’s peers, including the American Psychological Association.”

    Pepper and Dusek responded to Harris last week by arguing that people actually can be hypno-programmed to do things against their morals yet, in the case of Sirhan, he was not programmed to shoot Kennedy but only to fire at what he imagined were range targets, so as to create a diversion for a second shooter to secretly kill Kennedy.

    At Sirhan’s 1969 trial, prosecutors argued the defendant, a Christian Palestinian, killed Kennedy because of statements the New York senator had made about the United States sending fighter jets to aid Israel.

    However, in their series of court filings since October 2010, Sirhan’s attorneys Pepper and Dusek have dismissed that allegation as a “most speculative motive” without any sworn statements for substantiation.

    “The denial of justice … ”

    Sirhan was initially sentenced to death after his conviction, but three years later his sentence was commuted by California courts to life in prison. He will turn 68 on March 19.

    According to his lawyers, Sirhan never became a U.S. citizen, so if he were released from prison, he would be deemed an illegal immigrant and likely would be deported to Jordan, where he has extended family.

    Pepper says he personally knew Robert Kennedy and his family, and even ran his election campaign in the heavily Republican Westchester County in New York when Kennedy, a Democrat, successfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1964.

    In 1999, Pepper represented the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit concerning King’s April 4, 1968, murder and successfully persuaded a Memphis, Tennessee, jury to find a Memphis man, Lloyd Jowers, responsible as an accomplice in the King assassination.

    As for the current effort on behalf of Sirhan that Pepper and co-counsel Dusek are making in federal court, California’s attorney general insists there is “overwhelming evidence” against the defense attorneys’ claims.

    But Sirhan’s defense team says the evidence is “so overwhelming in terms of his actual innocence … it compels his release after spending 44 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.”

    “Justice requires this long overdue result,” Pepper told CNN. “The denial of justice in this case diminishes us all and clearly demonstrates that the technique of political assassination is alive and well in this republic.”

  45. Robert
    Posted April 29, 2012 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Major developments in the Sirhan appeal case. It is now finally being testified to in court that the LAPD altered witness testimony from the RFK assassination scene. Now watch all the dipshits who’ve had their heads up their asses all these years disappear into the woodwork. I’m curious to hear what all the coincidence theorists have to say about this.

    from CNN:
    RFK assassination witness tells CNN: There was a second shooter

    Los Angeles (CNN) — As a federal court prepares to rule on a challenge to Sirhan Sirhan’s conviction in the Robert F. Kennedy assassination, a long overlooked witness to the murder is telling her story: She heard two guns firing during the 1968 shooting and authorities altered her account of the crime.

    Nina Rhodes-Hughes wants the world to know that, despite what history says, Sirhan was not the only gunman firing shots when Senator Kennedy was murdered a few feet away from her at a Los Angeles hotel.

    “What has to come out is that there was another shooter to my right,” Rhodes-Hughes said in an exclusive interview with CNN. “The truth has got to be told. No more cover-ups.”

    Her voice at times becoming emotional, Rhodes-Hughes described for CNN various details of the assassination, her long frustration with the official reporting of her account and her reasons for speaking out: “I think to assist me in healing — although you’re never 100% healed from that. But more important to bring justice.”
    Was there a second RFK shooter?
    Sirhan wants release or retrial
    2009: New evidence: Pruszynski recording

    “For me it’s hopeful and sad that it’s only coming out now instead of before — but at least now instead of never,” Rhodes-Hughes told CNN by phone from her home near Vancouver, Canada.

    Sirhan, the only person arrested, tried and convicted in the shooting of Kennedy and five other people, is serving a life sentence at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California.

    The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles is set to rule on a request by the 68-year-old Sirhan that he be released, retried or granted a hearing on new evidence, including Rhodes-Hughes’ firsthand account.

    At his 1969 trial, Sirhan’s original defense team never contested the prosecution’s case that Sirhan was the one and only shooter in Kennedy’s assassination. Sirhan testified at his trial that he had killed Kennedy “with 20 years of malice aforethought,” and he was convicted and sentenced to death, which was reduced to life in prison in 1972.
    Previously reported
    Attorneys for RFK convicted killer Sirhan push ‘second gunman’ argument

    Prosecutors, attorneys argue: Was there a second gunman in RFK assassination?

    Prosecutors rebut convicted RFK assassin’s claims in freedom quest

    Convicted RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan seeks prison releas

    Convicted RFK assassin denied parole

    Sirhan Sirhan, convicted RFK assassin, to face parole board

    After the trial, Sirhan recanted his courtroom confession.

    In the recent federal court filings, state prosecutors led by California Attorney General Kamala Harris argue that even if there were a second gunman involved in the Kennedy shooting, Sirhan hasn’t proven his innocence and he’s still guilty of murder under California’s vicarious liability law.

    Sirhan’s new legal team disputes Harris’ assertion about that state statute.

    Their current battle has prosecutors and Sirhan’s new lawyers engaging directly the merits of new evidence — as well as witness recollections such as Rhodes-Hughes’ account — never argued before a judge.

    Prosecutors under the attorney general are contending that Rhodes-Hughes heard no more than eight gunshots during the assassination. In court papers filed in February, Harris and prosecutors argue that Rhodes-Hughes was among several witnesses reporting “that only eight shots were fired and that all these shots came from the same direction.”

    Sirhan’s lawyers are challenging those assertions.

    In a response also filed in federal court in Los Angeles, the defense team led by New York attorney William Pepper contends that the FBI misrepresented Rhodes-Hughes’ eyewitness account and that she actually had heard a total of 12 to 14 shots fired.

    “She identified fifteen errors including the FBI alteration which quoted her as hearing only eight shots, which she explicitly denied was what she had told them,” Sirhan’s lawyers argued in February, citing a previously published statement from Rhodes-Hughes.

    The FBI and the California attorney general’s office both declined to comment to CNN on the controversy over Rhodes-Hughes’ witness account since the matter is now being reviewed by a federal judge.

    Rhodes-Hughes was a television actress in 1968 who worked as a volunteer fundraiser for Kennedy’s presidential campaign.

    The FBI report indicates that Rhodes-Hughes was indeed inside the kitchen service pantry of the Ambassador Hotel during the crucial moments of the Kennedy shooting, but she contends the bureau got details of her story wrong, including her assertions about the number of shots fired and where the shots were fired from.

    Rhodes-Hughes, now 78, tells CNN she informed authorities in 1968 that the number of gunshots she counted in the kitchen pantry exceeded eight — which would have been more than the maximum Sirhan could have fired — and that some of the shots came from a location in the pantry other than Sirhan’s position.

    Robert Kennedy was the most seriously wounded of the six people shot inside the hotel pantry on June 5, 1968, only moments after the New York senator had claimed victory in California’s Democratic primary election. The presidential candidate died the next day; the other victims survived.

    The Los Angeles County coroner determined that three bullets struck Kennedy’s body and a fourth passed harmlessly through his clothing. Police and prosecutors declared the four bullets were among eight fired by Sirhan acting alone.

    Rhodes-Hughes tells CNN the FBI’s eight-shot claim is “completely false.” She says the bureau “twisted” things she told two FBI agents when they interviewed her as an assassination witness in 1968, and she says Harris and her prosecutors are simply “parroting” the bureau’s report.

    “I never said eight shots. I never, never said it,” Rhodes-Hughes told CNN. “But if the attorney general is saying it then she’s going according to what the FBI chose to put into their report.”

    “There were more than eight shots,” Rhodes-Hughes said by phone. She says that during the FBI interview in her Los Angeles home, one month after the assassination, she told the agents that she’d heard 12 to 14 shots. “There were at least 12, maybe 14. And I know there were because I heard the rhythm in my head,” Rhodes-Hughes said. She says she believes senior FBI officials altered statements she made to the agents to “conform with what they wanted the public to believe, period.”

    “When they say only eight shots, the anger within me is so great that I practically — I get very emotional because it is so untrue. It is so untrue,” she said.

    Contacted by CNN for comment, Sirhan lead attorney William Pepper called the alleged FBI alteration of Rhodes-Hughes’ story “deplorable” and “criminal” and said it “mirrors the experience of other witnesses.”

    Other witnesses also mentioned more than eight shots

    Law enforcement investigators have always maintained that only eight shots were fired in the RFK assassination, all of them by Sirhan. His small-caliber handgun could hold no more than eight bullets.

    But released witness interview summaries show at least four other people told authorities in 1968 that they heard what could have been more than eight shots. The following four witness accounts appear not in FBI reports but in Los Angeles Police Department summaries:

    — Jesse Unruh, who was speaker of the California Assembly at the time, told police that he was within 20 to 30 feet behind Kennedy when suddenly he heard a “crackle” of what he initially thought were exploding firecrackers. “I don’t really quite remember how many reports there were,” Unruh told the LAPD. “It sounded to me like somewhere between 5 and 10.”

    — Frank Mankiewicz, who had been Kennedy’s campaign press secretary, told police that he was trying to catch up to the senator when he suddenly heard sounds that also seemed to him to be “a popping of firecrackers.” When an LAPD detective asked Mankiewicz how many of the sounds he’d heard, he answered: “It seemed to me I heard a lot. If indeed it had turned out to have been firecrackers, I probably would have said 10. But I’m sure it was less than that.”

    — Estelyn Duffy LaHive, who had been a Kennedy supporter, told police that she was standing just outside the kitchen pantry’s west entrance when the shooting erupted. “I thought I heard at least about 10 shots,” she told the LAPD.

    — Booker Griffin, another Kennedy supporter, told police that he had just entered the pantry through its east entrance and suddenly heard “two quick” shots followed by a slight pause and then what “sounded like it could have been 10 or 12” additional shots.

    An analysis of a recently uncovered tape recording of the shooting detected at least 13 shot sounds erupting over a period of less than six seconds. The audiotape was recorded at the Ambassador Hotel by free-lance newspaper reporter Stanislaw Pruszynski and is the only known soundtrack of the assassination.

    Audio expert Philip Van Praag told CNN that his analysis establishes the Pruszynski recording as authentic and the 13 sounds electronically detected on the recording as gunshots.

    “The gunshots are established by virtue of my computer analysis of waveform patterns, which clearly distinguishes gunshots from other phenomena,” he said in an e-mail. “This would include phenomena that to human hearing are often perceived as exploding firecrackers, popping camera flashbulbs or bursting balloons.”

    Van Praag’s Pruszynski recording findings are now a major point of controversy among new evidence being argued between the two sides in the Sirhan federal court case. Harris contends that his findings amount to an “interpretation or opinion” that is not universally accepted by acoustic experts.

    CNN initially reported on Van Praag’s audio analysis in 2008 and then with additional details in a BackStory segment in 2009.

    Shots fired from two different locations

    California prosecutors have argued that witnesses heard shots coming from only one location, but Rhodes-Hughes tells CNN that while the first two or three shots she heard came from Sirhan’s position several feet in front of her, she also heard gunshots “to my right where Robert Kennedy was.”

    According to the autopsy report, the coroner concluded that the senator’s body and clothing were struck from behind, at right rear, by four bullets fired at upward angles and at point-blank range. Yet witnesses said Sirhan fired somewhat downward, almost horizontally, from several feet in front of Kennedy, and witnesses did not report the senator’s back as ever being exposed to Sirhan or his gun.

    In his analysis of the Pruszynski sound recording, Philip Van Praag found that five of the gunshots captured in the tape were fired opposite the direction of Sirhan’s eight shots. Van Praag also concluded that those five shots — the third, fifth, eighth, 10th and 12th gunshots within a 13-shot sequence — displayed an acoustical “frequency anomaly” indicating that the alleged second gun’s make and model were different from Sirhan’s weapon.

    A chance meeting with Robert Kennedy

    The path that eventually led Nina Rhodes-Hughes to the Ambassador Hotel kitchen pantry began 2½ years earlier during a chance meeting with Robert Kennedy at NBC-TV studios in Burbank, California. She was being made up for her co-starring role in the daytime drama “Morning Star” when Kennedy suddenly entered the makeup room. The actress was starstruck. “I saw Robert Kennedy and everything else disappeared from view,” she said. “There was an aura about him that was very captivating. He kind of pulled you in. His eyes were very deep set and they were very blue. And when you looked at him, you got very drawn in to him.”

    As Rhodes-Hughes remembers it, the senator had arrived to pre-record an interview on “Meet the Press” and the two discussed political issues while awaiting their separate TV appearances. “Here I am, just an actress in a soap opera, and he took the time to have an in-depth conversation with me,” said Rhodes-Hughes, who was then known professionally by her screen name Nina Roman.

    As impressed as Rhodes-Hughes was with Robert Kennedy, she says the senator indicated that he himself was impressed with her ability to quickly memorize many pages of TV script. She says he confided to her that he had no such talent himself but that his older brother, the assassinated President John F. Kennedy, had possessed similar skills.

    “Our conversation basically was the clincher for me,” Rhodes-Hughes told CNN. “I said to him, ‘You know, I have followed your career in politics and I really believe in you and I love all the things that you did — and are trying to do, and propose to do — and so if ever you declare yourself a candidate for the presidency, I will work for you, heart and soul.’ And he smiled and said, ‘Well, I don’t know if that’s going to happen.’ And he was very humble and very sweet.”

    Rhodes-Hughes says that later, in the spring of 1968, shortly after Kennedy announced his candidacy for the presidency, she helped form a campaign support group in Los Angeles called “Young Professionals for Kennedy” and assisted in raising funds for the California phase of the senator’s White House bid.

    Weeks later, as he claimed victory in the California primary, addressing hundreds of supporters in the Ambassador Hotel’s Embassy Room shortly after midnight on June 5, Kennedy paid tribute to the many volunteers, like Rhodes-Hughes, who had assisted his campaign. Referring to his own role during his brother’s successful run for the presidency in 1960, Kennedy told them, “I was a campaign manager eight years ago. I know what a difference that kind of an effort and that kind of a commitment makes.”

    Trying to keep Kennedy from heading to the pantry

    For Rhodes-Hughes there was one more commitment to keep. She had promised Kennedy aide Pierre Salinger that following the candidate’s victory speech she would try to meet the senator as he exited the ballroom and usher him to a backstage area where Salinger had been keeping abreast of the California primary returns. She says although she and another campaign volunteer made sure to carefully position themselves to greet the candidate, the opportunity never came. According to Rhodes-Hughes, shortly after Kennedy completed his remarks in the Embassy Room, he was whisked away by others down a corridor and toward the kitchen pantry while she scurried to catch up.

    “No, no, that’s the wrong way!” Rhodes-Hughes tells CNN she shouted to the senator and his escorts as she chased after them in an unsuccessful effort to turn them around. “It’s this way! Come back! You’re going the wrong way!”

    Kennedy and Sirhan almost face-to-face

    Rhodes-Hughes says that after she entered the kitchen pantry’s west entrance, she could see Kennedy in left profile, “greeting” well-wishers a few feet ahead of her. She says a moment later she was looking at the back of the senator’s head, as he continued onward, when suddenly the first two or three shots were fired.

    “I saw his left profile. And then, very, very quickly, he was through greeting, and he turned and went into the original direction that he was being ushered to,” Rhodes-Hughes told CNN. “At that point, I saw the back of his head and part of his shoulders and back.”

    “My eyes were totally on him, and all of a sudden I started hearing popping sounds, which I thought at first were flashbulbs from a camera,” she said. It was Rhodes-Hughes’ account of Kennedy’s movements in the pantry that Sirhan’s lawyer Pepper focused on in particular when CNN asked him to comment on Rhodes-Hughes’ account of the shooting.

    “This observation is vital,” said Pepper. “Her clear recollection of being some short distance behind the Senator and seeing his left profile and then seeing him quickly turning so that the back of his head was in her sight at the time the shooting began — this reveals that the Senator was almost directly facing Sirhan just before he took three shots, from behind, in his back, and behind his right ear at powder burn range, making it impossible for Sirhan to have been Robert Kennedy’s shooter,” the defense attorney said in an e-mail to CNN. “It clearly evidences the existence of a second gunman who fired from below and upward at the Senator.”

    Rhodes-Hughes says that while she was behind Senator Kennedy, looking at the back of his head and hearing the first two or three gunshots, Kennedy did not appear to be struck by bullets at that point.

    Still believing the first shots were merely flashbulbs, she says she then took her eyes off the senator, while turning leftward, and caught her first glimpse of Sirhan standing in front of Kennedy and to the candidate’s left.

    She told CNN that the 5-foot-5-inch tall Sirhan was propped up on a steam table, several feet ahead of her and slightly to her own left. Rhodes-Hughes says part of her view of Sirhan was obstructed and she could not see the gun in his hand but she says that, as soon as she caught sight of Sirhan, she then heard more shots coming from somewhere past her right side and near Kennedy. She told CNN that at that point she was hearing “much more rapid fire” than she initially had heard.

    In his recent analysis of the Pruszynski recording, Philip Van Praag found that some of the tape’s 13 captured shot sounds were fired too rapidly, at intervals too close together, for all of the gunshots in the pantry to have come from Sirhan’s Iver Johnson revolver alone.

    Sirhan’s lawyers report in their federal court papers that gunshot echoes have been ruled out as the cause of the Pruszynski recording’s “double shots.” Ricochets also are ruled out according to Pasadena, California, forensic audio engineers who verified Van Praag’s Pruszynski findings for the 2007 Investigation Discovery Channel television documentary “Conspiracy Test: The RFK Assassination.”

    ‘They’ve killed him! They’ve killed him!’

    Rhodes-Hughes told CNN she heard gunshots coming from some place not far from her right side even while Sirhan was being subdued several feet in front of her. “During all of that time, there are shots coming to my right,” she said. “People are falling around me. I see a man sliding down a wall. Then I see Senator Kennedy lying on the floor on his back, bleeding. And I remember screaming, ‘Oh no! Oh, my God, no!’ And the next thing I know, I’m ducking but also in complete shock as to what’s going on.

    “And then I passed out,” she said.

    Rhodes-Hughes says that, moments later, while she was regaining consciousness from having fainted to the floor, she noticed that her dress was wet and that she was missing a belt and one of her shoes. It was clear to her that she had been trampled, but she was unhurt.

    She then looked across the room and saw Kennedy once again, lying on the floor and bleeding, this time with his wife Ethel kneeling and trying to comfort him. Rhodes-Hughes says the sight horrified her, sending her screaming out of the pantry and back through the corridor, where she was attended to by her then-husband, the late television producer Michael Rhodes.

    “I’m running out of the pantry and I’m yelling, ‘They’ve killed him! They’ve killed him! Oh, my God, he’s dead! They’ve killed him!'” Rhodes-Hughes told CNN. “Now, the reason I said, ‘they’ is because I knew there was more than one shooter involved.”

    Little more than 25 hours later, Kennedy was pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles.

    Rhodes-Hughes describes the events of early June 1968 as “the most iconoclastic experience” of her life.

    “Although it was 44 years ago, I will swear that this is exactly what happened. I remember it like it was almost yesterday, because you don’t forget something like that when it totally changes your life forever,” she said. “It took a great toll on me. For a while, even the backfiring of a car would send me into tears.”

    Never called to testify

    Despite the fact her FBI interview summary indicates Nina Rhodes-Hughes was inside the kitchen pantry during the assassination, she was never called to testify at Sirhan’s 1969 trial or at any subsequent inquiry over the years. Rhodes-Hughes says she made a point of telling two FBI agents in 1968 that she would be willing to make herself available to appear as a witness anywhere at anytime and to testify “that there were more shots.”

    “They never wrote that down,” she says of the FBI agents who conducted the interview in her Los Angeles home. She also says that when the pair of agents departed following their visit, they forgot to take along their attaché case and, minutes later, had to return to her residence and retrieve it.

    Rhodes-Hughes says that, in the months following the June 5, 1968 assassination, she and some others who had been at the Ambassador Hotel refused news media interviews so as to avoid interfering with preparations for Sirhan’s trial. It wasn’t until the 1990s that Rhodes-Hughes was asked whether she would ever be willing to testify under oath — an invitation coming not from a prosecutor or law enforcement official but from author Philip H. Melanson, a chancellor professor of policy studies at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

    At Melanson’s request, Rhodes-Hughes reviewed her 1968 FBI interview summary for the first time and found it contained more than a dozen inaccuracies. She provided Melanson with a statement, but the professor died some years later and Rhodes-Hughes once again missed her opportunity to testify. Before his death, Melanson published Rhodes-Hughes’ statement in “Shadow Play,” a book he co-authored with William Klaber in 1997 and one of several Melanson wrote on the Robert Kennedy assassination.

    Rhodes-Hughes recounted the Kennedy shooting and her initial contact with Melanson in a 1992 interview on “Contact,” a local TV program carried at the time in Vancouver by Rogers Cable.

    Defense attorney William Pepper calls Rhodes-Hughes’ recollections “significant verification” of new assassination evidence that the Sirhan legal team is currently presenting. “It provides further verification of a dozen or more gunshots and mirrors the experience of other witnesses which confirms the existence of the cover-up efforts,” he told CNN.

    “Along with all of the other evidence we have provided, one wonders why it has taken so long for this innocent man to be set free, a new trial to be ordered or, at least, a full investigatory hearing to be scheduled,” Pepper said. “Nothing less than the credibility and integrity of the American criminal justice system is at stake in this case.”

    Sirhan Sirhan’s current legal team is doing something his original lawyers never did. They are asserting that Sirhan did not shoot Kennedy.

    Sirhan’s original defenders had decided at the outset that Sirhan was the lone shooter. Because Sirhan’s initial lawyers presented a diminished capacity case in 1969, they never pursued available defenses. Evidentiary conflicts, and issues such as a possible second gun, simply were not addressed at Sirhan’s 1969 trial. Most of the original prosecution’s evidence was stipulated by the original defense team, which agreed that Sirhan had killed the presidential candidate.

    Nina Rhodes-Hughes opposes freedom for Sirhan Sirhan, whom she regards as one of two gunmen firing shots inside the Ambassador Hotel kitchen pantry. “To me, he was absolutely there,” she said. “I don’t feel he should be exonerated.”

    Rhodes-Hughes insists the full truth of Robert Kennedy’s murder has been suppressed for decades, and says she hopes that it will now finally come out and that the alleged second shooter will be identified and brought to justice.

    “There definitely was another shooter,” said Rhodes-Hughes. “The constant cover-ups, the constant lies — this has got to stop.”

  46. Drugoon
    Posted May 1, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    He thrusts his fists against the posts,
    And still insists he sees the ghosts.

  47. Robert
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I wrote Mel Ayton asking what his take was on the witness testimony in the Sirhan case. He wouldn’t respond the question. He would only direct me to his book which I’ve already read.

    That’s the way it is with these guys. When it starts coming out that they’ve been promoting a terrible deception against the public they just crawl back under their rocks. I’m disgusted with the moral cowardice I see from most people these days.

    As I’ve said before, Mel Ayton is probably the best writer to have ever covered the RFK assassination. If he has integrity, he will write a follow-up to his previous book on the case, report the facts which have been presented in court, and acknowledge that he was wrong in his conclusions.

    The same goes for Mark’s pal Professor H here in Ypsi. Wouldn’t a history professor who claims to care so deeply about the things RFK stood for be interested in what has been coming out regarding the organized hit which took the life of a presidential candidate and changed the course of history?

    Of course I don’t hold my breath waiting for anybody to demonstrate any integrity these days.

  48. Posted May 7, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    B.C.-based actress Nina Rhodes-Hughes speaks of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination (with video)
    Her sobs were heavy, layered, alarming.

    She sat on the sofa, her pale, cream dress crumpled like wet Kleenex. Her face was streaked with tears and dirty black mascara, hair dishevelled, stockings violently torn.

    By her side, her husband was crying, too. In the early hours of the morning they were huddled around the television, waiting for news. Would he live?

    She’d left the Ambassador Hotel just hours ago, amid the cacophony of sounds, the screaming and chaos. More than a dozen shots had been fired. Two came from in front of her, in front and to the left of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, where she saw a dark-skinned man with curly hair; the rest of the shots popped like firecrackers all around them.

    “They shot Bobby Kennedy,” she said over and over.

    “They shot Bobby Kennedy.”

    A second gunman?

    William Francis Pepper, a famed New York-based human rights lawyer, is brusque on the phone. To the point.

    “I knew about her,” he says of Nina Rhodes-Hughes, whose eyewitness account had long been overlooked. The woman in the pale, cream dress who had been walking just a few feet behind Robert F. Kennedy in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel when he was attacked.

    She knew how many shots had been fired. She was there.

    “I couldn’t find her,” says Pepper.

    Until now.

    The lawyer says the testimony of Rhodes-Hughes, a B.C.-based actress who has, until recently, lived in virtual anonymity on Bowen Island, may be pivotal in winning a new trial for his client, Sirhan Sirhan, Kennedy’s convicted assassin.

    On Feb. 22, 2012, Pepper filed a petition for a new trial on behalf of Sirhan in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. Pepper is arguing there was a second gunman, that fraudulent evidence was presented at trial, and that key witness reports, like that of Rhodes-Hughes, had been altered or ignored.

    Pepper’s court filing also is built on analysis of an enhanced audio recording of the assassination, made by Montreal Gazette reporter Stanislaw Pruszynski, that surfaced in 2007.

    Pruszynski had his tape recorder running throughout the assassination, but didn’t realize it until many years later. The enhanced recording, according to forensic acoustic expert Philip Van Praag, identifies 12 to 13 distinct shots being fired.

    “Sirhan’s gun only held eight bullets,” says Pepper. “The tape was one of the reasons I got involved.”

    If a new trial is granted, Pepper expects to call Rhodes-Hughes to the stand.

    Hope and despair

    How Rhodes-Hughes came to be just a few feet from the senator on the night he won the 1968 California Democratic primary, and face to face with his confessed killer, is also the story of one of the 20th century’s most shocking junctures of hope and despair.

    Rhodes-Hughes was a young mother of two children in 1967. Married to a Hollywood television producer, she had a regular role on the daytime soap, Morningstar.

    Petite, with sea-green eyes and jet black hair, she was a beauty with a life that seemed brushed by stardust, but underneath the glitter the pretty actress was politically minded.

    Rhodes-Hughes was born in Brooklyn, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Europe, whose history was a constellation of terror: murders, pogroms and brutal discrimination had driven her mother’s family out of Russia.

    The stories she grew up with, she says, gave her a steely sense of moral duty and keen idealism. It was this sense of duty and this determination to make the world a better place that drew her directly into the path of another idealist, Robert F. Kennedy.

    “He walked into the room and everything stopped,” says Rhodes-Hughes, remembering the day she met the charismatic young senator.

    She was sitting in hair and makeup at the NBC studios in Burbank. Kennedy had been brought in to be prepped for Meet the Press, filmed in the same studio. Rhodes-Hughes decided to tell him how much she admired his strength, his work on poverty. She walked right up to him.

    “I said if ever you decide to run for president, I will work for you. I promise you.”

    He laughed it off, and assured her he had no such plans. They chatted about politics and world affairs.

    “He said, well, what do you do?”

    She told him she was an actress, and he asked how often she appeared.

    “I said every day.”

    Kennedy was humble

    He asked how many pages a day, and when she replied 30 pages, he was amazed.

    “You memorize 30 pages a day?”

    “I do,” she said.

    “I could never do that,” he said, “But my brother Jack, he could memorize just looking at something very quickly. I never had that ability, and I admired that in him and I admire that in you.”

    He was humble, says Rhodes-Hughes, but incredibly compelling: “He had a magnetism, and a charm that was absolutely indescribable.”

    Like so many others, she admired Kennedy’s commitment to education, to housing and social justice, and that he wanted the Americans out of Vietnam.

    “I became convinced that this was the man who could save our country.”

    When Kennedy announced he would run for president, Rhodes-Hughes went down to the local campaign headquarters to volunteer.

    She became a fundraiser. She knew entertainers and celebrities — Nancy Sinatra was a close friend — and quickly pulled together an event at a local disco, The Factory. “We called it a ‘happening’ back then,” she says.

    The event was a huge success, and Kennedy sent her a personal telegram, thanking her.

    She produced other fundraisers: a wine and cheese for Ethel Kennedy, a train ride called the Kennedy Cannonball that ran from L.A. to Bakersfield. Her son, Ross, worked alongside her. Momentum gathered and Kennedy’s prospects looked as bright as the California sunshine.

    “It was fabulous,” she says. “Because of all that, I was invited to come to the Ambassador Hotel the night of June 4, 1968 and to meet him again. I was thrilled. We were really moving toward getting this done, getting everything I was dreaming about, that someday we would have a government that wasn’t corrupt, that had great principles, that worked for the downtrodden, that we would be a diverse country with no bigotry. That was my hope.”

    Rhodes-Hughes, now 78, points to the creamy, pale beige carpet in her condo, “That was the colour of my dress.”

    Her voice is clear and sure as she describes that night at the Ambassador hotel, as if it were all happening again:

    The night had been euphoric, filled with laughter and joyous celebration. Balloons bobbed through the air and people were chanting: RFK! RFK!

    Kennedy was onstage, his back to her. To her right was the Pierre Salinger press room, where Kennedy was slated to go after his speech. To her left, through a kitchen pantry, was another press room called the Colonial room.

    Went the wrong way

    Rhodes-Hughes was waiting — she had been asked to “get” Kennedy and direct him to the Salinger press room as he came offstage.

    But the entourage swept him the other direction, through the kitchen toward the Colonial room. She waved and called out: “No, no, that’s the wrong way, he’s supposed to come over here.”

    She ran after them as he was moved offstage, down a ramp toward the kitchen. She could see the back of the senator’s head, surrounded by his entourage, and ran down the ramp toward him.

    “He turns to his left a little bit and starts to greet some of the kitchen staff,” she says.

    “Suddenly, he turns to his right and went straight ahead towards the Colonial, the other press room … then, as I’m looking at him, I heard ‘pop, pop.’ ”

    For a split second, she thought they were flashbulbs. Then, to her left, ahead of the senator, she saw him, Sirhan Sirhan, standing on top of a steel kitchen table.

    “He was higher, he was standing up on a steam table, not floor level.”

    Kennedy didn’t have a lot of security that night, but Rafer Johnson, a decathlete, and football player Rosey Grier were there to escort him. They reacted instantaneously.

    “I see Rafer Johnson and Rosey Grier running toward Sirhan Sirhan to tackle him.”

    Rhodes-Hughes was six to seven feet behind the senator, to his left. She saw Sirhan twist and crouch as Johnson and Grier lunged to tackle and subdue him.

    Only two shots had been fired. As they brought him down, more rang out to her right, close behind senator Kennedy.

    “The shots are pop, pop, pop, pop, pop ….” Rapid gunfire, 12, maybe 13 in all. “People are falling, people are sliding down the wall, people are ducking and I’m screaming. Then I look down and I see the senator has fallen. He’s lying on the floor. He has been shot.”

    She remembers screaming, “Oh my God, no, oh my God, no.” Then she collapsed and fainted.

    When she came to, her dress was soaking wet, her shoe and belt were missing, her stockings were torn from being trampled on in the melee.

    Before her, a life was flooding away.

    Senator Kennedy lay on the floor, blood spilling out around his head. His wife, Ethel, knelt beside him.

    In all, six people had been shot, one fatally.

    Kennedy would be pronounced dead in hospital later that day.

    According to autopsy reports, Kennedy died from a gunshot wound in the back of his head, behind his right ear, shot at close range — close enough to leave powder burns on strands of his hair.

    Sirhan — Rhodes-Hughes is sure — had been positioned in front of him.

    Rhythm of gunfire

    “It was very, very hard to see. When you experience something like that, it’s emblazoned in your mind. The emotional memory, the whole thing is just so strong that there is no way you could ever forget one detail,” she says.

    Kennedy was facing Sirhan. His head was not turned.

    She will never forget the rhythm of the gunfire. The first two shots, she says, came from the direction of the dusky-skinned man with the curly hair that stood on top of the steam table. Then some more shots, from her right-hand side. No law enforcement official spoke to her that night at the hotel; the FBI didn’t interview Rhodes-Hughes until about a month had passed.

    Her son, Ross Rhodes, remembers the night of the shooting clearly; how his parents’ sobs woke him, how he pushed off his blankets and stumbled through the bathroom that connected his bedroom to the room with the TV.

    He was 13 years old and had never seen his mother cry.

    He also remembers when the FBI showed up weeks later.

    “I remember very clearly two men in suits coming to the door,” says Rhodes, now an artist and gallery owner in Palm Springs.

    “I was told to go to my room. I didn’t. I hid in the kitchen and listened to the interview.”

    Her story was never told

    It bothers him that people are asking why his mother is coming forward now to tell her story of hearing over a dozen shots coming from two distinctly different directions when Kennedy was shot.

    “She has always maintained this testimony from day one,” he says.

    “I told them everything,” says Nina Rhodes-Hughes.

    “I told them if you need me to testify I would be most happy to testify because I really would like to see whoever the other person was, I would like the other person to be found because it was more than just Sirhan Sirhan.”

    She insists she recounted the number of shots to the FBI agents. She was asked to describe Sirhan, whom she had seen clearly. Then she was asked if she had been wearing a polka-dot dress.

    “They were looking for the girl in the polka-dot dress.”

    That girl had apparently been seen with Sirhan earlier in the evening and in the kitchen; another witness had said a girl in a polka-dot dress had fled the hotel crying out “We shot him, we shot him!”

    “I said no, my dress was a champagne colour with a high neck and a little belt. That’s what I was wearing. I was not the lady in the polka-dot dress.”

    The agents took notes, but didn’t record anything. When they left, they forgot their attache case. Rhodes-Hughes and her son stared at it, circled around it. She called a neighbour in a panic, to come and sit with her until they returned for it, and be a witness that they had not touched the attache case with the Kennedy file inside.

    “By this time, I’m scared. I’m nervous. I was not going to do anything that wasn’t right.”

    Eventually the agents returned to retrieve the case. Rhodes-Hughes was never called to testify, and she never knew what those FBI agents wrote in the transcription of their interview. Had she opened the attache case that day, she would have seen: the report stated she had heard eight shots, the exact number of bullets that Sirhan’s gun held, and that she saw bright red flashes emanating from the gun. None of that, she says, is true.

    Dropped out of politics

    Rhodes-Hughes was a delegate at the 1968 Chicago Democratic convention, but after that she dropped out of politics. She had been forever changed by the assassination, as had the political landscape. She had a third child and turned her attention to other fundraising ventures, to her acting career and even opened a fitness studio with Richard Simmons. In 1983, she came as a tourist to Vancouver, fell in love with the city and eventually moved here. That night at the Ambassador Hotel wasn’t something she often talked about. But in the early ’90s, a Dartmouth professor, Phil Melanson, contacted her with a stunning revelation. He had obtained the FBI reports from the assassination, including her statement through an FOI request. She agreed to look it over.

    “I was flabbergasted. Devastated … I never said I saw red flashes. I never said eight shots.”

    FBI fabrications

    There were numerous other fabrications attributed to her in the FBI report.

    “I was in shock,” she says.

    Rhodes-Hughes gave Melanson the story as she remembered it, which he included in a book about the assassination, Shadowplay. Rhodes-Hughes never read the book, and heard nothing more from the professor. Nor did she seek to bring the story to public attention.

    “As soon as you say ‘conspiracy’ it sounds like you’re a nut, that all of your intelligence is gone and you’re some kind of thrill-seeking crazy person who wants some notoriety,” she says.

    Again, the story slipped below the surface of her life. She had no idea lawyer William Pepper — who is not afraid to use the word conspiracy, and who believes Sirhan was hypno-programmed, possibly by the woman in the polka-dot dress — wanted to find her. Or that a tape recording corroborating her version of the number of gunshots had surfaced.

    She may never have come forward, but for a call a few weeks ago from CNN reporter Brad Johnson. Now, in spite of the notoriety, she believes it is her duty to Kennedy, and to history, to tell — and ask — what really happened that night. Until the call came, even her closest friends in her small Bowen Island community had no idea that she had been witness to Kennedy’s assassination, close enough, almost, to reach out and touch him as he fell.

    dryan@vancouversun.com
    Read more by clicking blue “Robert” link above.

  49. Knox
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    By the time our grandkids are in school they’ll be teaching that he and his brother killed themselves.

  50. Robert
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    The witnesses’ stories haven’t changed. They’ve been saying the same things since day one. That’s why the case was never allowed to actually proceed through an actual trial. Only lazy morons in the press are now acting surprised, and as if what is coming out now in court is somehow recent revelation and newly discovered information.

  51. Robert
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    I tried to start a conversation with Mel Ayton, but he avoids like the plague certain very critical details regarding the case . It’s a bit strange how desperately he clings to that notion that there can’t be two guns being fired in the same room at the same time. I wonder if that’s a stipulation in his book contract.

  52. dragon
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Try a palmful of goofballs and a hot load of mescaline.

    p.s. Avacodo’s not a fruit

  53. Robert
    Posted May 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Bobby Kennedy assassination witness to appear on Inside Edition
    By Marcus Hondro
    Digital Journal

    A woman who has made startling claims on the number of shots fired the night Senator Bobby Kennedy was assassinated will be appearing on the CBS newsmagazine show ‘Inside Edition’ this month.

    Nina Rhodes-Hughes told Digital Journal she’ll be going from her home in Canada to Los Angeles to sit down and tape an ‘Inside Edition’ segment on May 21. The actor, stage director and former activist for the Democratic Party, claims there were “12 to 14” shots fired on the night Kennedy was shot in the Ambassador Hotel June 5, 1968. She says only now is anyone paying attention to her story.

    Motion for retrial of Sirhan Sirhan

    The official version of Kennedy’s shooting has it that Sirhan Sirhan was the only shooter and only 8 shots were fired, the maximum amount of bullets Sirhan’s gun took; he was tackled immediately and had no time to reload. Three bullets hit Kennedy, each of the other five hitting another person (the other five victims all survived).

    However in February, Sirhan’s lawyer, William F. Pepper, filed a motion for a retrial, claiming there was a second shooter and that more than 8 shots were fired. He also says his client, now 68 and serving a life sentence in Pleasant Valley State Prison in California, is the victim of a “horrendous violation” of his rights. Pepper claims to have the name of a second shooter but says it will only be revealed should a retrial be granted.

    Upon learning of the motion for a retrial, CNN’s Brad Johnson, who’s written about Sirhan before, including recently when Sirhan was denied bail a 14th time, managed to contact Rhodes-Hughes. Johnson had found her name in records and, after talking to her in March, wrote a story featuring her account. Since that story was published, Rhodes-Hughes has been inundated with media requests, giving “30 to 40” interviews, including one on April 30th which was live on-air on Skype with Johnson’s CNN colleague, Soledad O’Brien. She’s also spoken with the Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, the Ottawa Citizen, media overseas and other media.

    Bobby Kennedy shot in Ambassador Hotel

    When Kennedy was shot, Rhodes-Hughes was some 7 feet away following him and his wife Ethel, trying to get them to go to a press room. She’d been a volunteer with the Democratic Party and that night says that the late- Pierre Salinger, Kennedy’s campaign manager, had enlisted her to direct Kennedy when he came off-stage. He had been, however, ushered by others in another direction, through the kitchen, and she followed to try and get them to turn about and make their way to the press room.

    “I do not have any contention that Sirhan Sirhan fired shots, that’s not being contested,” she said on Monday, May 14. “But I believe, because I was there and I have the rhythm of those shots in my head, that there were other shots coming from the other side of Kennedy, from another shooter.”

    She was spoken to by the FBI about one month after the shooting, she says, and told them about the number of shots she heard. However, their report of her interview, which she did not see until the early 90’s, said she heard but 8 shots; along with that inconsistency between what she said and their report said, she says there were 13 other inconsistencies. She let it be known at the time that she wanted to testify at Sirhan’s trial but was never called to the stand.

    Inside Edition: story on Rhodes-Hughes account

    The 78-year-old Rhodes-Hughes moved to Canada in the late-80’s and continued acting in TV shows and hosted her own interview show for 6 years. She remains active in theater and directs plays where she now lives on Bowen Island, off the coast of West Vancouver.

    Inside Edition is a long-running newsmagazine show on CBS that covers topical events in a half-hour format. It has been hosted by Deborah Norville since 1995.

  54. Robert
    Posted June 14, 2012 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    I want to tell Rhodes-Hughes and the other witnesses to “Try a palmful of goofballs and a hot load of mescaline.” I think drugoon in onto something there.

  55. Robert
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Does drugoon still frequent this blog? I miss his insights.

  56. Robert
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    I thought he might be a little smarter (and less damaged) than I first summized, when he quoted (plagerized) William Hughes Mearns’ Antigonish. But the other day I saw it was used in the crappy movie ‘Identitty’ from 2003. That now seems to me a more likely source for his picking it up. He’s made it obvious TV did most of his parenting.

  57. Robert
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for the terrible misspellings.

  58. Meta
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    It only happens a few days a year, but I like it when Robert pokes his head out of his spider hole long enough to leave a series of comments.

  59. Robert
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    I got a wireless connection down in my spider hole now.

  60. Robert
    Posted March 8, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    You should be proud of me. I managed to stay away when they whacked RFK Jr.’s wife a few months back. He was floating the idea that he should be in Kerry’s vacated US Senate seat. That “Kennedy curse” put a quick end to that.

  61. Robert
    Posted March 12, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Sorry…I was just trying to get a reaction by saying RFK’ Jr’s wife was whacked because he was floating the idea that he should be in the Senate. Actually, if her death was foul play, it is more likely it was a cronic polluter who wanted to get RFK Jr. off their back.

    Anyway, I asked Shane O’Sullivan about what is happening in the Sirhan appeal, and he said “There are lots of things happening in the case but they can’t be made public just yet.” So I’ll share those new details here as soon as I hear back from him.

  62. Robert
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m finding it more than a little amusing that the ‘theorists’ out there that believe in essentially impossible (and frequently occurring) coincidences, find themselves increasingly in the awkward position of arguing against people so much closer and more intimately involved to the events these ‘theorists’ have blathered on and on about with such arrogance and ignorance. Have any of these fools crawled back under their rocks, or (even more unimaginably) begun to show signs of critical self-re-examination? I’ll be looking forward to either, though I won’t hold my breath.

    To the self-deluding and chronically uninformed, the simple reporting of long-known details and long-established facts are experienced as extraordinary revelations.

  63. Tammy
    Posted March 23, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    RFK was killed by his own vanity.

  64. Mr. X
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Yes, he brought it on himself by being alive. If he’d just killed himself his assassins wouldn’t have been put in the terrible position of having to kill him. Damn selfish Kennedy.

  65. Posted March 24, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Yes, vain people should be killed, like women who wear short skirts deserve to be raped.

  66. Robert
    Posted March 24, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m going to convince myself that Tammy is being sarcastic, because the alternative explanation is too sickeningly stupid and insane to stomach.

  67. Robert
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    45 years ago today.

  68. (the original) Robert
    Posted February 10, 2016 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Professor H will be disappointed to hear that another witness present in the room when RFK was killed is testifying today as to the pretty obvious fact that there were two guns being fired. As a matter of fact, everyone who was present and is confident of their observations agrees that there was more than one gun being fired. Everyone who has testified in an official sense, has stated the same. But I suppose our Professor H knows better somehow. I wonder if he’d be willing to explain the source of his extraordinary vision, which takes president over witnesses actually present at the scene.

  69. (the original) Robert
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Sirhan Sirhan denied parole for Robert F. Kennedy assassination at emotional hearing

    Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times via Associated Press

    SAN DIEGO — Sirhan Sirhan was denied parole Wednesday for fatally shooting Robert F. Kennedy after a confidante of the slain senator who was shot in the head forgave him and repeatedly apologized for not doing more to win his release.

    Paul Schrade’s voice cracked with emotion during an hour of testimony on his efforts to untangle mysteries about the events of June 5, 1968. The 91-year-old former labour leader said he believed Sirhan shot him but that a second unidentified shooter felled Kennedy.

    “I should have been here long ago and that’s why I feel guilty for not being here to help you and to help me,” Schrade said.

    The men faced each other for the first time since Schrade testified at Sirhan’s 1969 trial. Schrade apologized for not going to any of Sirhan’s 14 previous parole hearings.

    As Sirhan left, Schrade shouted, “Sirhan, I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It’s my fault.”

    Sirhan, who had nodded politely when the victim addressed him, tried to shake hands with Schrade but a guard blocked him.

    Commissioners concluded after more than three hours of intense testimony at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Center that Sirhan did not show adequate remorse or understand the enormity of his crime.

    Sirhan, who is serving a life sentence that was commuted from death when the California Supreme Court briefly outlawed capital punishment in 1972, will next be eligible for parole in five years.

    “This crime impacted the nation, and I daresay it impacted the world,” commissioner Brian Roberts said. “It was a political assassination of a viable Democratic presidential candidate.”

    Sirhan, 71, stuck to his account that he didn’t remember the shooting at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles moments after Kennedy delivered a victory speech in the pivotal California primary.

    Sirhan recalled events before the shooting in some detail — going to a shooting range that day, visiting the hotel in search of a party and returning after realizing he drank too many Tom Collins’ to drive. He drank coffee in a hotel pantry with a woman to whom he was attracted.

    The next thing he said he remembered was being choked and unable to breathe.

    “It’s all vague now,” he said. “I’m sure you all have it in your records, I can’t deny it or confirm it. I just wish this whole thing had never taken place.”

    Sirhan, a native of Jerusalem, listened intently during most of the hearing, turning testy when commissioners pressed him on his memory and any feelings of remorse. He said he felt remorse for any crime victim but added that he couldn’t take responsibility for the shooting.

    “If you want a confession, I can’t make it now,” Sirhan said. “Legally speaking, I’m not guilty of anything. … It’s not that I’m making light of it. I’m responsible for being there.”

    Schrade, who was alongside Kennedy and four others who were injured and served as western regional director of the United Auto Workers Union at the time, provided much of the drama. He angrily ignored the commissioner’s admonishment to avoid directly addressing Sirhan and chastised the prosecution for a “venomous” statement advocating that Sirhan stay in prison.

    Schrade, who long advocated the second-gunman theory, recalled how he became depressed and upset after the shooting and vividly described his extensive efforts to find answers. He stopped occasionally to apologize for being nervous and emotional.

    The commissioner asked Schrade to wrap up after about an hour, saying, “Quite frankly, you’re losing us.”

    “I think you’ve been lost for a long time,” Schrade shot back.

    At one point, the commissioner asked if anyone wanted a break.

    “No, I want to get this over,” Schrade answered from the audience. “I find it very abusive.”

    David Dahle, a retired prosecutor appearing for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, said Sirhan was guilty of “an attack on the American political system and the American political process.”

    “The prisoner has still not come to grips with what he has done,” he said.

    In one of many emotional outbursts during his 1969 trial, Sirhan blurted out that he had committed the crime with 20 years of malice aforethought.

    That and his declaration when arrested, “I did it for my country,” were his only relevant comments before he said he didn’t remember shooting Kennedy.

    Sirhan said incriminating statements he made at trial were the result of an ineffective defence attorney who pressured him into thinking he was guilty.

    “I feel if I had a proper defence at the time then the results would have been quite different,” he said.

    Sirhan said he was initially reluctant to attend the hearing — feeling he was mistreated at his last appearance in 2011 — but his attorneys successfully urged him to reconsider.

    Sirhan told the panel that if released, he hoped he would be deported to Jordan or would live with his brother in Pasadena, California.

    His hope, he said, was “just to live out my life peacefully, in harmony with my fellow man.”

    “This is such a traumatic experience, it’s a horrendous experience that for me to keep dwelling on it is harmful to me,” Sirhan said.

  70. iRobert
    Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Well, it was 50 years ago tonight that Senator Robert Kennedy was fatally shot after declaring victory in the California Primary.

  71. Posted June 4, 2018 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    Tonight on Coast To Coast (1am-3am EDT)

    Prof. Paul DeBole teaches a course called Conspiracy in American Politics. He ‘ll discuss the anomalies in the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy which happened 50 years ago this week and why Sirhan Sirhan may not be guilty.

    Listen to a replay 5am-7am on KFI-AM Los Angeles

    kfiam640.iheart.com

  72. iRobert
    Posted June 5, 2018 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    I hope nobody listened to Paul DeBole on Coast To Coast last night (this morning). It was a lame segment. Everyone who heard it, I am sure is now wishing they would have just got an extra two hours of sleep.

    It’s kind of bizarre that 50 years isn’t enough time for a person to gather the information sufficient for an intelligent analysis.

  73. iRobert
    Posted August 6, 2018 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    The RFK Tapes podcast has turned out to be a terrible disappointment.

    Zac Stuart-Pontier is a dope. He’s released seven episodes of the ten he promises, and he has yet to even mention the name of Ted Charach. He hasn’t talked about Philip Van Praag and his analysis of the audio recording of the assassination. Shane O’Sullivan’s findings from his search through photos and videos from the Embassasor Hotel hasn’t been brought up at all. The work of those three individuals is all any real podcast on the topic would need.

    Instead, that idiot, Zac Stuart-Pontier, is going to spend episode eight listening to the moron Dan Moldea. This will be a meeting of the two least intellectually gifted individuals ever to pretend to be interested in the RFK assassination.

    Mark, if you are interested, I’m certain you, Donald Harrison and I could produce a real series on the topic which would bury this garbage these fools have been shitting out.

  74. iRobert
    Posted August 10, 2018 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Zac Stuart-Pontier played a clip from Ted Charach’s interview of Thane Eugene Cesar, and didn’t credit it to Charach. Stuart-Pontier is a plagiarizing dope.

    Being suckered into the Moldea’s disinformation campaign is a rookie mistake also. What a maroon.

    I want to dare Stuart-Pontier to do a comprehensive examination of the findings of Charach, Van Praag, and O’Sullivan. But it’s becomming obvious that Stuart-Pontier is just playing games.

  75. Posted October 4, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Juan Romero, Busboy Who Cradled Dying RFK, Dies At 68

    https://www.npr.org/2018/10/04/654282422/juan-romero-busboy-who-cradled-dying-rfk-dies-at-68

  76. iRobert
    Posted October 5, 2018 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    If anyone is thinking about listening to the RFK Tapes podcast, don’t bother. It turned out to be just another Moldea scam.

  77. Posted January 14, 2019 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Lisa Pease’s has a new book out titled “A Lie Too Big To Fail – The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.” Has anyone here read it?

    http://feralhouse.com/a-lie-too-big-to-fail/

  78. Posted June 6, 2019 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Robert F. Kennedy Assassination Reconsidered

    Independent investigator and author Lisa Pease gave an illustrated talk about her book, A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. For the past 25 years, Lisa Pease has been investigating and writing about the assassinations of the 1960s. This was part of a conference on political assassinations of the 1960s hosted by the JFK Historical Group.

    https://www.c-span.org/video/?459353-1/robert-f-kennedy-assassination-reconsidered&fbclid=IwAR1KroCBdwRZVODHFFkRFk5VgoZdbgzfTrCP9ij5XzjgRDFD6MKzt6Thj7s

  79. Posted September 12, 2019 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    From IrishCentral.com

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wins historic $290 million case against giant Monsanto and Roundup weed-killer

    https://www.irishcentral.com/news/robert-f-kennedy-case-monsanto-roundup-weed-killer

  80. Posted September 13, 2019 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Thane Eugene Cesar died today in the Philippines.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/B2THyP9H2h9/

  81. dogmatic dolt
    Posted September 14, 2019 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Aloha iRobert, thanks for getting this into the right spot. But remember JH is convinced that Sirhan Sirhan was a lone assassin, so case closed, stop even thinking about it.

  82. iRobert
    Posted September 17, 2019 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    From ABC News:

    Sirhan Sirhan back in prison after surviving stabbing: Attorney

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/abcnews.go.com/amp/US/sirhan-sirhan-back-prison-surviving-stabbing-attorney/story%3fid=65327829

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