48 years Later
His 15th Parole Application Is Denied
In the highly charged atmosphere, a witness in the 1969 trial of Sirhan Sirhan came forward at the hearing to call for the convicted man’s release. Paul Schrade, now 91, who was also shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, apologized for missing Sirhan’s previous 14 parole hearings. He told Sirhan: “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.” After the hearing, while Sirhan was being taken away, Schrade shouted, “Sirhan, I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It’s my fault.”
Parole commissioners, however, were unmoved. “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.”
Mr Schrade was alongside the candidate when five people were injured in the June 5th shooting. Mr Schrade was shot in the head.
The two men faced each other at the parole hearing for the first time since Mr Schrade testified at Sirhan’s 1969 trial.
Mr Schrade pleaded for the release of Sirhan at the hearing and apologized to him for not doing more over the years to secure his freedom.
that suggests a second gunman fired the shot that killed Bobby Kennedy.
Transcription provided by Brad Johnson, Concept Producer for Rob Beemer, Interesting Stuff Entertainment, Los Angeles (Rob accompanied Paul Schrade to Sirhan’s parole hearing, acting as Mr. Schrade’s support person).
I am Paul Schrade of Los Angeles. I am 91 years old. And back when I was 43, I was among six persons shot at the old Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles at just after Midnight on June 5th, 1968.
I was shot along with Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who had just won California’s Democratic Primary Election for the Presidency of the United States. Five of us survived our wounds. And as history knows, Senator Kennedy was fatally wounded.
I am here to speak for myself, a shooting victim, and to bear witness for my friend, Bob Kennedy.
Kennedy was a man of justice. But, so far, justice has not been served in this case. And I feel obliged as both a shooting victim and as an American to speak out about this – and to honor the memory of the greatest American I’ve ever known, Robert Francis Kennedy.
Sirhan Bishara Sirhan was originally scheduled for release in 1984 but, after intense political pressure, his parole date was rescinded and he has since been denied 14 times.
In order for you to make an accurate determination of Sirhan Sirhan’s parole, you need to know my feelings on this case and the full picture of what actually happened.
Sirhan, I forgive you.
The evidence clearly shows you were not the gunman who shot Robert Kennedy. There is clear evidence of a second gunman in that kitchen pantry who shot Robert Kennedy. One of the bullets – the fatal bullet – struck Bob in the back of the head. Two bullets struck Bob literally in his back. A fourth bullet struck the back of his coat’s upper right seam and passed harmlessly through his coat. I believe all four of those bullets were fired from a second gunman standing behind Bob. You were never behind Bob, nor was Bob’s back ever exposed to you.
Indeed, Sirhan, the evidence not only shows that you did not shoot Robert Kennedy but it shows that you could not have shot Robert Kennedy.
Gentlemen, the evidence clearly shows that Sirhan Sirhan could not and did not shoot Senator Bob Kennedy.
Several days ago, I made sure that several documents were submitted to this board for you to review. If you have not done so as yet, I would ask you to please review them very carefully during your deliberation. I will be glad to re-submit these documents to you, here today.
I believe, after you review these documents, that it should become clear to you that Sirhan Sirhan did not shoot – and could not have shot – Robert Kennedy. What I am saying to you is that Sirhan himself was a victim.
Obviously there was someone else there in that pantry also firing a gun. While Sirhan was standing in front of Bob Kennedy and his shots were creating a distraction, the other shooter secretly fired at the senator from behind and fatally wounded him. Bob died 25 hours later.
Gentlemen, I believe you should grant Sirhan Sirhan parole. And I ask you to do that today.
Along with what Sirhan’s lawyers have submitted to you, the following are the documents that I made sure were submitted to you and which should also be factored into your decision today.
First, I want to show you this. It’s a letter written in 2012 by my good friend, Robert F. Kennedy Junior. Bobby wrote this letter to Eric Holder, who was then the Attorney General of the United States. In his letter to Mr. Holder, Bobby requests that federal authorities examine the Pruszynski Recording, the only known audio recording made of his father’s assassination at the Ambassador Hotel. The recording was uncovered in 2004 at the California State Archives by CNN International senior writer Brad Johnson.
This next document is a federal court declaration from audio expert Philip Van Praag, who Johnson recruited to analyze the Pruszynski Recording.
In this document, Van Praag declares that his analysis of the recording concludes that two guns were fired in the Robert Kennedy shooting.
Van Praag found a total of 13 gunshots in the Pruszynski Recording. Sirhan’s one and only gun at the crime scene held no more than eight bullets and Sirhan had no opportunity to reload it.
Van Praag also found what he calls “double-shots” – meaning two gunshots fired so close together that they could not both have come from Sirhan’s Iver Johnson Cadet revolver. Van Praag actually found two sets of these “double-shots.”
Additionally, he found that five of the 13 gunshots featured a unique audio resonance characteristic that could not have been produced by Sirhan’s gun model, meaning those five shots were fired from a second gun of a different make.
Van Praag further found that those five gunshots were fired in a direction heading away from Pruszynski’s microphone. Since the microphone was about 40 feet west of the Kennedy shooting, those five shots were fired in an eastward direction, which was opposite the westward direction that Sirhan is known to have fired his eight-shot Iver Johnson Cadet.
These documents are statements from two witnesses to the Robert Kennedy shooting, both of them assistant maître d’s for the Ambassador Hotel. These two men, Karl Uecker and Edward Minasian, escorted Robert Kennedy into the kitchen pantry immediately after the Senator delivered his victory speech in a hotel ballroom for having won the California Primary. Both Uecker and Minasian say Sirhan was in front of Bob Kennedy as the Senator walked toward Sirhan, meaning that Bob and Sirhan were facing each other. Both witnesses say Sirhan was still in front of Bob as Sirhan fired his gun. And both say that after Sirhan fired his first two shots, Uecker quickly pushed Sirhan against a steam table, placing Sirhan in a headlock while grabbing hold of Sirhan’s firing arm, forcing the tip of Sirhan’s gun to point away from where Bob Kennedy was and causing Sirhan to fire blindly his remaining six bullets.
In other words, Sirhan only had full control of his gun at the beginning, when he fired his first two shots, one of which hit me. Sirhan had no opportunity to fire four precisely-placed, point-blank bullets into the back of Bob Kennedy’s head or body while he was pinned against that steam table and while he and Bob were facing each other.
This document is the official Robert Kennedy autopsy report summary. It shows that all bullets directed at Senator Kennedy were fired from behind him at point-blank range. As the autopsy states, and as these drawings show, the bullets traveled from back-to-front at steep upward trajectories. One bullet struck Senator Kennedy at the back of the head, two bullets at the right rear armpit and a fourth bullet at the right rear shoulder of his jacket, which passed harmlessly through his jacket.
Again, Sirhan’s bullets could not have struck the back of Bob Kennedy’s head or the back of his body or the back of his jacket’s right shoulder, as the autopsy clearly shows took place, because Sirhan was never in a position to administer any of those four Kennedy shots. The prosecution never placed Sirhan in that location and position.
These are documents from the Los Angeles Police Department that reveal LAPD misconduct in the police investigation of the Robert Kennedy murder. They detail evidence that was destroyed while Sirhan’s appeal was still pending as well as a photograph that was acknowledged by the LAPD to be “effective rebuttal” but was withheld from the defense team.
Indeed, the LAPD and L.A. County District Attorney knew two hours after the shooting of Senator Kennedy that he was shot by a second gunman and they had conclusive evidence that Sirhan could not – and did not – do it. The official record shows that the prosecution at Sirhan’s trial never had one witness – and had no physical nor ballistic evidence – to prove Sirhan shot Bob Kennedy. Evidence locked up for 20 years shows that the LAPD destroyed physical evidence and hid ballistic evidence exonerating Sirhan – and covered up conclusive evidence that a second gunman fatally wounded Robert Kennedy.
This document is a memo written by Criminalist Larry Baggett, who investigated the Robert Kennedy shooting for the LAPD. The Baggett memo states that the bullets that hit Senator Kennedy and William Weisel, another shooting victim in the pantry, were not fired from the same gun. The memo also states that the bullet that traveled upward through Bob Kennedy’s body and into his neck was not fired from Sirhan’s revolver. Such a finding would be proof that Sirhan did not shoot Robert Kennedy.
Mr. Deputy District Attorney, based on all of this information and more, I ask that you inform Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey that I am formally requesting her to order a new investigation of the Robert F. Kennedy assassination. I will also be making the same request of Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck.
Please note, Mr. Deputy District Attorney, that I am using the word “new” here. I am not requesting that the old investigation simply be re-opened. For that would only lead to the same old wrong conclusions. I am requesting a new investigation so that after nearly 50 years, justice finally can be served for me as a shooting victim; for the four other shooting victims who also survived their wounds; for Bob Kennedy who did not survive his wounds because his were the most grievously suffered in that kitchen pantry; for the people of the United States who Bob loved so much and had hoped to lead, just as his brother, President John F. Kennedy, had led only a few years before; and of course for justice, to which Bob Kennedy devoted his life.
Furthermore, Mr. Deputy District Attorney, I ask that you please also tell the District Attorney, Ms. Lacey, that I would appreciate the opportunity to personally meet with her in Los Angeles at her earliest convenience. Would you please convey my message to her?
I hope you will consider all of the accurate details of this crime that I have presented in order for you to accurately determine Sirhan Sirhan’s eligibility for parole. If you do this the right way and the just way, I believe you will come to the same conclusion I have: that Sirhan should be released. If justice is not your aim, then of course you will not.
Again, Sirhan was originally scheduled for release in 1984 but after intense political pressure, his parole date was rescinded and he has since been denied 14 times.
The best example of this can be found in this statement of Los Angeles District Attorney John Van de Kamp.
Again, gentlemen, I believe you should grant Sirhan Sirhan parole. And I ask you to do that today in the name of Robert F. Kennedy and in the name of justice.
Thank you. That concludes my remarks.
from: “The Full Story of the Sirhan Sirhan Parole Hearing”
The aim of these sessions was threefold: to “conduct a detailed forensic psychological assessment” of Sirhan’s mental status; to allow Sirhan “to develop a more complete memory…for the events leading up to and of the night of the assassination”; and to determine whether or not Sirhan was the “subject of coercive suggestive influence” at the time of the shooting and if this accounted for his amnesia.
The declaration states that, in Dr. Brown’s expert opinion, Sirhan is normal, does not have a psychiatric condition or personality disorder and shows no evidence of any violence risk if released (the primary consideration for any parole panel).
In his sessions with Sirhan, Dr. Brown found “a variety of personality factors that are associated with high vulnerability to coercive suggestive influence: an extreme dissociative coping style; hypnotically-induced altered personality states; extremely high hypnotizability; and high social compliance”:
Mr. Sirhan is one of the most hypnotizable individuals I have ever met, and the magnitude of his amnesia for actions not under his voluntary [control] in hypnosis is extreme. This unusual combination of personality factors makes Mr. Sirhan the type of individual extremely vulnerable to coercive social influence [and accounts for his] uncharacteristic behavior and strong amnesia for that behavior on the night of Senator Kennedy’s assassination…
Dr. Brown’s declaration traces the seeds of this “coercive suggestive influence” back to his experiences at a local race track, where,
Mr. Sirhan regularly practiced self-hypnosis with fellow stable boys…Mr. Sirhan was observed to quickly enter a very deep state of hypnotic trance state and to then respond compulsively and uncritically to suggestion the [sic] behave in certain ways for which he subsequently became amnesic….
After a fall from a horse at a ranch in Corona in 1966, Sirhan was briefly hospitalized but, as Dr. Brown notes,
The medical record of the hospital shows that he was treated for a minor eye injury and discharged the same day. His mother and best friend both states [sic] that he was missing for two full weeks. Mr. Sirhan recalls being in the hospital for several weeks. Sometime thereafter he was taken to a military firing range and trained to shoot upon command at vital human organs while in an hypnotic state.
Dr. Brown notes that Sirhan’s “dissociative vulnerability” causes him “on rare occasions to shift self-states”:
On more than one occasion I was able to find the cue to induce “range mode,” wherein upon hypnotic cue, Mr. Sirhan takes his firing stance, hypnotically hallucinates that he is shooting at circle targets at a firing range, automatically starts shooting, and subsequently is completely amnesic for the hypnotically induced behavior. This altered personality state only occurs while Mr. Sirhan is in a hypnotic or self-hypnotic state, and only in response to certain cues. This state never spontaneously manifests. While in this altered personality state, Mr. Sirhan shows both a loss of executive control and complete amnesia….[T]his distinctive self-state is cue-specific and state-dependent…and is likely the product of coercive suggestive influence and hypnosis.
On the night of the assassination, Sirhan recalls being led in the Ambassador Hotel pantry by a girl in a polka-dot dress. As Robert Kennedy was approaching him, Dr. Brown writes, “this same woman taped [sic] him on the elbow twice (a common hypnotic cue) following which he immediately went into ‘range mode,’ and believed he was shooting at circle targets at a local firing range.”
Given the new evidence of a second gunman found on the Pruszynski recording, it is Dr. Brown’s expert opinion “that Mr. Sirhan was trained through a variety of coercive persuasion techniques to serve as a distractor on the night of the assassination, so that a second professional shooter could render the fatal shot.”
Sirhan fired his gun on cue, carrying out an involuntary post-hypnotic suggestion and his “strong dissociative coping style…would cause him to be ‘out of it’ and be confused and amnesic for such actions”:
Given the likelihood that Mr. Sirhan was in such a state at the time of the assassination, it should not be assumed at the parole hearing that he should manifest either knowledge of, remorse for, or clear memory for an event wherein his behavior was likely compulsively induced, involuntary, and for which he still has little memory.
The self-incriminating writing in Sirhan’s notebooks has always been cited as primary evidence of premeditated murder. The most famous page begins: “May 18 9.45 AM – 68 My determination to eliminate R.F.K. is becoming more the more of an unshakable obsession.” Underneath it are a series of concentric circles that bear a strong resemblance to targets at a firing range.
After exploring Sirhan’s “responsiveness to automatic writing in hypnosis,” Dr. Brown concluded that the automatic writing in his notebooks was “a product of coercive persuasion by a third party”:
Mr. Sirhan was an avid enthusiast of short wave radios. He had a short wave radio in his bedroom, and spent most nights before the assassination communicating on his short wave radio to third parties. Mr. Sirhan frequently entered a hypnotic state while communicating with other parties on the short wave radio. While in trance Mr. Sirhan would automatically write down what was communicated to him, and subsequently was amnesic for the content of his automatic writing in the spiral notebooks.
Dr. Brown compares the notebooks to “a coerced internalized false confession” and claims they should have been ruled inadmissible at trial. He concludes:
Mr. Sirhan has been in prison for over four decades for a crime that he is unlikely to have committed. Extensive psychological testing by me and others shows no evidence for any clinically significant psychiatric condition and low evidence for violence risk, combined with the new evidence that raises reasonable doubt that Mr. Sirhan was the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy, and also reasonable doubt about his previous written and verbal self-incriminating statements being voluntary and reliable, there is, in my opinion, no justifiable reason to deny his parole. Since he has spend [sic] all of his adult life in prison for a crime that he may not have committed, nor has volition about, knowledge of, nor memory for, the compassionate response would be to let Mr. Sirhan live the remainder of his life free. There is little risk here.
RECENT DEVELOPMENTS: Petition for a Writ of Certiorari by counsel for Mr. Sirhan to the US Supreme Court
The following was filed by attorneys Dr. William F. Pepper, Esq. and Laurie D. Dusek, Esq., counsels for Mr. Sirhan, with the Supreme Court of the United States., July 2016 (23 pages):
Supreme Court of the United States
SPRING TERM, 2016
SIRHAN BISHARA SIRHAN
P.D. BRAZELTON, WARDEN E
On Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the
United States Court of Appeals,
For the Ninth Circuit
PETITION FOR A WRIT OF CERTIORARI
. . .
Petitioner, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, a prisoner in the California State Prison system, subsequent to being arrested and charged with the murder of Robert F. Kennedy, has not only been previously denied, on appeal his petition for a new trial, on his habeas corpus petition for an evidentiary hearing but also he has been denied a Certificate of Appealability even in the force of powerful new forensic evidence.
Petitioners, respectfully prays that a Writ of Certiorari issue to review the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
. . .
- IF ALLOWED TO STAND THE DECISION BELOW EVISCERATES THE SIXTH AND FOURTEENTH AMENDMENTS’ BASIC CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF A CRIMINAL DEFENDANT TO A FAIR TRAIL, BY ELIMINATING THE REQUIREMENT FOR EFFECTIVE LEAGAL [sic] ASSISTANCE AND REPRESENTATION.
Subsequent to being arrested and charged with the murder of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Appellant was represented at trial by his lead counsel, Grant Cooper. Appellant, to his detriment, never understood the degree and effect of the conflict, which would totally compromise his opportunity for a fair trail and compel ineffective assistance of counsel. Grant Cooper, the head counsel, during the entire trial was under a federal criminal indictment and subject to all the leverage and intimidation that imposes.
. . .
It is hard to conceive of a more blatant, textbook, example of ineffective assistance of Counsel. Defense counsel’s acts and omissions in this capitol case – Petitioner is only still with us because the California Legislature abolished the death penalty – ensured that a guilty verdict and a sentence to death was obtained.
Needless to say, the pending indictment against defense counsel Cooper went away after his performance.
The Petition for a Writ of Certiorari should be granted.
- “Robert F Kennedy’s killer loses 15th parole bid,” The Irish Times, Feb 11, 2016
- “The Full Story of the Sirhan Sirhan Parole Hearing,” by Shane O’Sullivan, Who.What.Why, Feb 16, 2016
- Transcript of Complete February 2016 Parole Hearing (212 pages)
- “B.C.-based actress Nina Rhodes-Hughes speaks of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination (with video),” by Denise Ryan, Vancouver Sun, May 7, 2012
- Petition for a Writ of Certiorari by counsel for Mr. Sirhan to the US Supreme Court, July 26, 2016 (23 pages)
- Sirhan’s Researcher website is Rose Lynn Mangan’s highly detailed compilation where she presents her “own research on the RFK assassination, which focuses on the ballistics evidence of the case, and the subsequent mishandling and falsification of that evidence in the attempt to cover up a conspiracy to assassinate RFK.” As she writes (beginning two-thirds of the way down on the site’s home page):
I am Rose Lynn Mangan, the person whom Sirhan Bishara Sirhan designated, along with his brother Adel, to be his authorized researcher. I have been acting in that capacity for many years, and Sirhan has confirmed this in two authorization letters, one on September 20, 1993, and one on December 26, 1993.
Statement of Conclusions and Beliefs about the RFK Assassination
After nearly four decades of research into the RFK assassination, numerous personal meetings and interactions with Sirhan and his family, interaction with criminalists and other researchers involved in the case, interaction with the Los Angeles Police Department, the California criminal court system, and the California State Archives, I have come to the following firmly-held conclusions and beliefs:
- Sirhan was a psychologically-manipulated patsy in a much larger scheme to kill RFK. His true role, unbeknownst to him, was that of an attention-grabbing diversion. He did not fire the bullet that killed RFK.
- Sirhan was firing blanks! His ammunition had been switched by his handlers prior to the assassination. This theory, first suggested by criminalist William Harper, corresponds with the statements of several eye witnesses who saw “bits of paper” and other residue consistent with the use of blanks coming from Sirhan’s gun. It is my firm belief that Sirhan’s handlers put blanks in Sirhan’s gun because they did not trust that Sirhan would hit his intended target.
- There were two separate “firing positions”, according to William Harper’s measurements of ballistics evidence using a Hycom camera (see discussion below). According to Harper, one position was in line with Sirhan’s position, and one was behind RFK. There were other people besides Sirhan who were in an in-line position to shoot the bystanders. Harper’s ballistics measurements were in fact corroborated by the LAPD’s own independent tests years after the Sirhan trial, as documented in the Baggett memo mentioned below.
- Ballistics and other evidence was intentionally mishandled, mislabeled, and misappropriated by the L.A.P.D. My report on Special Exhibit 10 documents this. It is my belief and conclusion that the L.A.P.D. did so at the behest of a higher Federal authority (see references below for more details).
What you will find on this website
On this website you will find documents, court testimony, analysis and reports on the weapons and bullets used and not used in the RFK assassination. You will see evidence of multiple guns, of the substitution of guns in the chain of evidence, of the destruction of records related to the guns, and of tampering of ballistics evidence of the bullets involved in the RFK assassination. My own research is covered in the Special Exhibit 10 Report that I presented to a meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences in Montpelier, France, in September, 2002. Overall, there are 424 pages of materials, which have been divided into logical pieces so that they may be more easily viewed and downloaded.
- Sirhan was a psychologically-manipulated patsy in a much larger scheme to kill RFK. His true role, unbeknownst to him, was that of an attention-grabbing diversion. He did not fire the bullet that killed RFK.
- Letter from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., September 25, 2012. PDF and text formats. [↩]
- Exhibit C, Declaration of Philip van Praag, November 14th 2011 in support of a new evidentiary hearing for Sirhan.
See Also: “The Assassination of RFK: A Time for Justice!,” by Frank Morales, Global Research, Jun 16, 2012. [↩]
- “The Only ‘Picture’ of the Fatal Shooting of Robert Kennedy” [↩]
- Karl Uecker Statement, 6-5-68: PDF and text formats [↩]
- Edward Minasian Statement, 6-5-68; PDF and text formats [↩]
- To Be Added: Official Robert Kennedy Autopsy Report Summary [↩]
- To Be Added: Documents revealing LAPD misconduct in the police investigation of the Robert Kennedy murder [↩]
- The Baggett Memo: PDF and text formats.
This Baggett memo is from the LA Police SUS files, the Special Unit Senator unit set up to control the investigation of the RFK case in June 1968. This is evidence the LA Prosecutors had that proved the RFK neck bullet did not match Victim Weisel’s bullet from the Sirhan gun therefore proving Sirhan did not shoot RFK and the 2nd Gunman did. There is no date on it or file source. The first page does show the name of LA Police Deputy Chief John A Mc Allister and the initials of the person who wrote this report. This first page also questions and thinks “Wolfer and the investigator should go…”. For some time I thought the initials at the bottom were WEP but now think they look like MEP. They could be for Manuel Emmanuel Pena (Manny Pena) of the LA Police and head of SUS. This Baggett memo is undated and despite the connection with the Deputy Chief and maybe Pena it could stand more validation. [↩]
- To Be Added: Statement of Los Angeles District Attorney John Van de Kamp exemplifies how political pressure forced Sirhan’s parole date to be rescinded [↩]
- Declaration of Daniel Brown, Ph.D., 796 Beacon St., Newton, MA 02459, to Legal Dept., Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility, 480 Alta Rd., San Diego, CA 92179, Re: The February 10, 2016 Parole Hearing of Sirhan B. Sirhan. PDF and text formats. [↩]