Schwarzenegger To Decide Parole for RFK's Killer! Uh-Oh!
RFK's killer eligible for parole
Kennedy connection poses conflict for Schwarzenegger
Tuesday, March 14, 2006; Posted: 1:57 p.m. EST (18:57 GMT)
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's connection to the Kennedys could conflict with Sirhan Sirhan's parole.
FRESNO, California (AP) -- Robert F. Kennedy's killer is eligible for parole this week, and the decision could ultimately rest with Arnold Schwarzenegger, a potential conflict for the governor because he is married to the victim's niece.
Sirhan Sirhan shot Kennedy on June 5, 1968, minutes after the New York senator claimed victory in the California presidential primary election.
His parole hearing on Wednesday, the 13th since his conviction and first since Schwarzenegger's election in 2003, will be heard by two board members, one of whom was appointed by the current governor.
If the board recommends his release -- an unlikely scenario, experts say -- the decision of whether to free Sirhan would fall to Schwarzenegger, setting up an unusual dilemma.
The governor's press office declined to comment this week, saying it is highly unlikely the decision would fall to Schwarzenegger.
Kennedy's assassination shocked a nation already reeling from the violent deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy, the senator's brother.
The Kennedys' sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, is the mother of Schwarzenegger's wife, TV journalist Maria Shriver.
Schwarzenegger and Shriver are occasional visitors to the Massachusetts home of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, RFK's youngest brother.
As recently as last year, the California governor participated in a benefit for the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial by reprising his role in "The Terminator" and recording a voicemail greeting saying "Hasta la vista baby" for the winning bidder of an online auction.
Wednesday's hearing will not be the first time Sirhan's fate could be influenced by a member of the Kennedy family. At Sirhan's May 1969 sentencing, Edward Kennedy wrote to the LA District Attorney asking for Sirhan's life to be spared.
"He would not have wanted his death to be a cause for the taking of another life," he wrote. "If the kind of man my brother was is pertinent, we believe it should be weighed in the balance on the side of compassion, mercy and God's gift of life itself."
In spite of Kennedy's request, Sirhan got a death sentence, which was commuted to life in prison in 1972, when the California State Supreme Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional.