Without naming the inmate, The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed that a stabbing unfolded at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility near San Diego. However, AP confirmed through a source that the inmate stabbed was Sirhan.
TMZ broke the news that Sirhan Sirhan was wounded. The inmate who stabbed Sirhan Sirhan was not immediately identified.
Here’s what you need to know:
Sirhan Sirhan Was Stabbed in a Prison Yard, Reports Say
According to TMZ, the stabbing of Sirhan Sirhan took place at 2:30 p.m. in a prison yard on Friday, August 30, 2019. His injuries were serious enough that he was taken to the hospital for treatment and the other inmate was placed in isolation, TMZ reported.
Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of murdering Kennedy. He admitted he murdered the aspiring president, Kennedy brother and former attorney general at his trial, but that was strategic because his lawyers pursued a diminished capacity argument, and he’s also claimed he has no memory of the slaying. As with RFK’s brother, President John F. Kennedy, there are those who argue that the government got it wrong. Some of those theories, although not all, revolve around RFK’s bodyguard, Thane Cesar, the number of overall shots that were fired, the trajectory of those shots, and whether there might have, thus, been two gunmen. There is no question that Sirhan Sirhan was there, and probably that he opened fire. The question is whether his shot was the one that killed RFK or whether a second gunman fired that bullet.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Has Raised Questions About the Assassination
According to an article in The Washington Post by Tom Jackson, published on May 26, 2018, Bobby Kennedy’s own son, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., no longer believes his father was killed by Sirhan Sirhan and recently met with him in a California prison. When the meeting was over (which Kennedy did not detail to the Post), “he joined those who believe there was a second gunman, and that it was not Sirhan who killed his father,” the story reported.
“I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father,” Kennedy said, joining calls for a new investigation already made by Paul Schrade, who was also shot that day on June 5, 1968 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
One of the driving forces behind the belief that there was a second gunman is the testimony of famed Los Angeles County Coroner Thomas Noguchi, who maintained from the start that Kennedy was shot from behind and at a closer range than witnesses say Sirhan got to the candidate. Bobby Kennedy told the Post this argument was persuasive to him, saying, “The people that were closest to [Sirhan], the people that disarmed him all said he never got near my father.”
This argument has been advanced by Sirhan’s attorneys for some time. In 2012, UPI reported that Sirhan’s lawyers “say a second gunman fired the fatal shot.” However, they “ruled out a security guard long suspected of playing a role in the slaying,” UPI reported. The lawyers were trying to get a new trial for Sirhan, and they said in court filings that Cesar was not the killer. However, they wanted an evidentiary hearing.
The Los Angeles Times reported in 2005 of Los Angeles County Coroner Noguchi’s findings: “Eyewitnesses put Sirhan no closer than 18 inches from Kennedy, but Noguchi testified that when the fatal wound was inflicted the gun was 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches from Kennedy’s ear. His testimony fed conspiracy theories that Sirhan had not acted alone.”
Here’s part of a Noguchi radio interview, in which the coroner essentially repeats that point:
“Based solely on the examination of the remains and the scene afterwards, I came to the conclusion that the Senator Bobby Kennedy was shot by a small caliber gun from the right side of the back of the head,” he said during the above interview. Noguchi said the fatal wound came at such close range that it was “perhaps three inches from the back of the ear. Might even be one inch.” He said that he understood that witnesses produced by the prosecution had not been able to find any witness to say that Sirhan was that close. However, he said, “everyone was in a panicky situation.”
Noguchi found other curious details when he studied the body. Noguchi also “found powder burns on the senator’s jacket and on his hair, indicating shots fired at close range,” The Post reported. The Post reported that Schrade believes Sirhan did fire and wound others but did not kill Kennedy.
“According to the autopsy report, the coroner concluded that the senator’s body and clothing were struck from behind, at right rear, by four bullets fired at upward angles and at point-blank range. Yet witnesses said Sirhan fired somewhat downward, almost horizontally, from several feet in front of Kennedy, and witnesses did not report the senator’s back as ever being exposed to Sirhan or his gun,” CNN reported.
That raises the question: If there was a second gunman, who was it? That has never been determined.
The Guardian reported in 2006, “Witnesses place Sirhan’s gun several feet in front of Kennedy, but the fatal bullet is fired from one inch behind.”
In 2012, CNN reported on a federal court hearing into Sirhan’s lawyers’ challenges against his conviction and a witness named Nina Rhodes-Hughes. “What has to come out is that there was another shooter to my right,” Rhodes-Hughes said to CNN. “The truth has got to be told. No more cover-ups.”
At trial, Sirhan testified he murdered Kennedy “with 20 years of malice aforethought,” but later recanted, CNN reported. He received the death penalty but in 1972 this was changed to life in prison. A 2016 appeal in the case was rejected. U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Wistrich wrote that Sirhan would be liable “as an aider and abettor” even if someone else killed Kennedy, the Post story reported, adding, that the idea of a second gunmen shooting Kennedy “at close range with the same type of gun and ammunition as [Sirhan] was using, but managed to escape the crowded room without notice of almost any of the roomful of witnesses, lacks any evidentiary support.”
Another key argument of those who believe the second gunman theory is that Sirhan Sirhan was carrying a .22 that only held eight bullets and didn’t reload, but some witnesses (and audio experts) allege that more than eight shots rang out. “There were too many bullets,” Robert Kennedy Jr. said to The Post in 2018. “You can’t fire 13 shots out of an eight-shot gun.”
CNN reported that at least four other witnesses told authorities they may have heard more than eight shots. They are Jesse Unruh, Frank Mankiewicz, Estelyn Duffy LaHive, and Booker Griffin. Furthermore, there is an audio recording of the assassination that was captured by a freelance journalist named Stanislaw Pruszynski. Some experts say the audio recording captured the sound of 13 shots.
An acoustic expert named Philip van Praag examined the audio, which the Polish journalist did not realize he was recording at the time. “…there are two pairs of double shots that occurred so close together it is inconceivable that Sirhan could have fired them all. The third and fourth shots and the seventh and eighth were separated by 122 and 149 milliseconds respectively,” Spartacus Educational alleges.
“One witness said that those shots came so close together that he could scarcely believe they were fired from one gun,” and another witness said the shots sounded like they came from a machine gun, legendary news anchor Walter Conkrite said in one of the news broadcasts from the time, which you can watch below.
According to CNN, “The Los Angeles County coroner determined that three bullets struck Kennedy’s body and a fourth passed harmlessly through his clothing.”
The Post noted that a ballistics expert testified at trial that a bullet in Kennedy’s body matched Sirhan’s gun, but other experts found that bullets at the scene were from different guns. Some also argue that possible bullet holes in door frames show there had to be a second gunman.
In 2008, The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article on the Robert Kennedy assassination. Of Sirhan, it reports that he was a “Palestinian who was raised in the Middle East until he was 12, when his family settled in Southern California.” He “held a series of menial jobs” and once wanted to be a jockey, the newspaper reported.
There is certainly a lot of evidence that Sirhan Sirhan murdered Kennedy, not to mention the fact that he was captured at the scene and seen firing at Kennedy by multiple witnesses. He also wrote about killing RFK in journals.
He wrote “RFK must die” in his diary and authorities thought that the date of the assassination tied into the “one year anniversary of the Six-Day War,” the article says.