Parole denied again for Sirhan, who denies killing RFK - CORCORAN, Calif

CORCORAN, Calif. (AP) — Convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan was denied parole for the 10th time Wednesday after stunning a parole hearing by d...

CORCORAN, Calif. (AP) — Convicted assassin Sirhan Sirhan was denied parole for the 10th time Wednesday after stunning a parole hearing by declaring he now believes he did not kill Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

"I believe I'm innocent of this crime and that I did not commit this crime,'' Sirhan said in the hearing at Corcoran State Prison.

Sirhan was grim-faced as the board's ruling was announced. He can seek parole again in three years.

The prosecutor assigned to the parole hearing, Thomas L. Trapp, called Sirhan's claim of innocence "preposterous.''

"It is mind-boggling and insulting to the American people. It is hurtful to the family of Sen. Kennedy. It is so shocking,'' Trapp said.

Kennedy was shot June 5, 1968, at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angles minutes after claiming victory in the California presidential primary. Sirhan, who was wrestled to the ground with a gun in his hand, has long claimed to suffer from amnesia about that night.

At his trial, the Palestinian immigrant was portrayed as a rabid anti-Israeli who turned against Kennedy because of the sale of 50 fighter jets to Israel.

In denying parole, the Board of Prison Terms said Sirhan remained a danger to society although it commended him for being free of disciplinary problems in prison. The board made no comment on his claims of innocence.

Sirhan, now 54 and looking youthful despite flecks of gray in his hair, called himself a victim of "gross injustice'' and "an out-and-out frame-up by the district attorney.''

"This is all a matter of new evidence that indicates I did not shoot Robert Kennedy or kill him,'' he said in a steady, unemotional voice.

"I am ready to live in compliance with the law and I am ready to live as a normal citizen. Please give me that chance.''

His lawyer, Laurence Teeter, said an examination of evidence from Sirhan's trial may support his claim that the case should be re-examined.

When board chairman Steve Baker challenged Sirhan to explain why he carried a gun that night, Sirhan said he could not remember.

Pressed, he said he did not want to talk about it and if Baker persisted in asking, "then we're talking about fairy tales.''

Trapp reminded the panel that on the day of the killing Sirhan told police "I did it for my country'' and at his trial blurted out that he killed Kennedy "premeditatedly with 20 years of malice aforethought.''

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