For the 15th time, officials denied parole for Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, after hearing from another person who was shot that night and had called for his release.
The decision Wednesday came after Sirhan answered questions from the California parole panel for about three hours in a small, windowless conference room.
Commissioners said Sirhan did not show adequate remorse or understand the enormity of his crime.
“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.”
During the hearing, Sirhan stuck to his previous account that he did not remember the shooting in 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles after Kennedy won the Democratic presidential primary in California.
He said he recalled being in the hotel then going to his car and returning after realizing he had too much to drink.
Paul Schrade, now 91, told the panel that he believed Sirhan shot him but that an unidentified second shooter had killed Kennedy. Schrade was a Kennedy confidante who was one of five people injured in the shooting.
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.
Schrade's voice broke with emotion at times during his hour of testimony that recounted his efforts to unravel questions about the shooting of Kennedy.
“I forgive you for shooting me,” Schrade told Sirhan at the hearing. “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.”
The two men faced each other for the first time since Schrade testified at Sirhan's 1969 trial. Schrade repeatedly apologized for not attending any of Sirhan's previous 14 parole hearings.
Sirhan nodded politely each time Schrade sought his forgiveness.
Schrade showed flashes of anger against Roberts, who admonished him for violating protocol by addressing Sirhan directly.
Schrade also criticized a representative of the Los Angeles County district attorney's office for making what Schrade called a “venomous” statement against the release of Sirhan.
Roberts at one point asked Schrade to wrap up his presentation, saying, “Quite frankly, you're losing us.”
“I think you have been lost for a long time,” Schrade shot back.