prosecutors in California criticize the top of Los Angeles County prosecutor for not advocating the continued imprisonment of the man paroled Friday before the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in 1968.
A two-man board voted to release Sirhan Sirhan for the fatal shooting of Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, moments after Kennedy delivered a speech. Kennedy was walking through the hotel kitchen greeting employees when Sirhan, now 77, shot him.
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Sirhan, a Christian Palestinian from Jordan, has said he was angry with Kennedy for his support of Israel. Friday was his 16th appearance before the probation commission. The decision still needs to be approved by Government Gavin Newsom.
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George Gascony, a former police officer who was elected to a Los Angeles County district attorney on a progressive platform last year, declined to send a prosecutor to the hearing.
“This is one of the most infamous political murders in American history and the killer is being considered for release without the benefit of a representative on behalf of the people of California,” Vern Pierson, El Dorado County District Attorney and Chairman of the California District Attorneys association, said in a statement. “That’s disgraceful.”
“It’s a departure from historical precedent. For the past 50 years, in every county in California, including Los Angeles, DAs routinely appear in these hearings to provide information to the probation commission,” he added. “Even in San Francisco, where the DA is considered by most to be the most progressive, prosecutors regularly appear in lifelong hearings. There is a saying that 90% of life pops up – Robert F. Kennedy was a visionary Attorney General and historical giant, but Gascón can’t even be bothered to show up?”
Before Gascon took office, the district attorney’s office regularly sent prosecutors to hearings to argue against the early release of offenders.
The ended with Gascon, even when the inmate was involved in notorious murders, which has made a series of changes such as revoking bail and banning death penalty cases and scrapping gang improvements.
Gascon’s office has said that resisting parole does more harm than good for some offenders and could lead to unjustified long prison terms. He is confronted with a remember effort about his policy.
In a statement to Fox News, Alex Bastian, a special counsel to Gascon, said: “The role of a prosecutor and their access to information ends at sentencing.”
“However, the probation commission has all the relevant facts and evaluations at their disposal, including how someone has behaved in prison over the decades,” he added. “The sole purpose of the probation service is to objectively determine whether someone is fit for release. If that person is the same person who committed a heinous crime, that person will rightly be found not fit for release.”
CDAA CEO Greg Totten said the comments from Gascon’s office are “further evidence that Mr. Gascón has neither the competence nor the integrity to lead the nation’s largest prosecutor.”
Fox News has contacted the office of San Diego County Prosecutor Summer Stephan, a harsh critic of Gascon. In January, she warned that his actions could affect all of California.
“What’s happening in LA affects all of California,” she told Fox News. “Los Angeles is the largest jurisdiction in the state and in the country. I’m very concerned about any negative ripple effects from Los Angeles and I’m concerned about people committing crimes in San Diego and going on to LA where they go not being confronted with the legal ramifications.”
In the absence of prosecutors, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in February that he would send representatives from his department to order hearings to plead on behalf of victims.
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Gascon faces a recall for its policies, which have been championed by criminal justice reform proponents but harshly criticized by law enforcement and victims’ rights advocates.
Desiree Andrade, whose son was brutally murdered in 2018, organized the “Recall George Gascon” movement after his policy allowed her son’s killers to reduce their sentences.
“I feel let down by the justice system,” she recently told “The Ingraham Corner. “These gentlemen are now risking 25 years and only have to do 80% of that time, that is 20 years. That is not enough. My son has a sentence; his punishment was death. I will never see my son again. How is it even the thought that they will be out in time to start their own families and do all that my son has been cheated of?”
Angelica Stabile of Fox News contributed to this report.