On February 1, 2012, California Attorney General Kamala Harris officially recommended that the latest appeal of Sirhan Sirhan, convicted in the 1968 murder of Senator Robert Kennedy, should be denied.
I respectfully disagree.
In 1997, I made a film called Voice of Dissent, arguing why the case should be reopened. Narrated by renowned historian Philip Melanson, the film examined controversies in the official account of the assassination that have endured since 1968.
One need not entertain strange-sounding theories about Sirhan Sirhan acting under mind control to acknowledge that there are, in fact, very serious and disquieting discrepancies in the forensic evidence of the case that must be resolved.
That is why I made my film, and was later involved in efforts to get the case reopened in the late 1990s.
I've always believed in Occam's Razor, the precept that the simplest explanation tends to be correct.
Sirhan Sirhan was caught at the scene with a smoking gun in hand. Eyewitnesses saw him fire it before he was wrestled down.
What else is there to say?
Let's start with a few facts not in dispute.
According to the LAPD's own account, Sirhan's gun held eight bullets, and he had no opportunity to reload. Robert Kennedy was hit three times and five other victims were each hit by a bullet.
That's all eight shots. Evidence of a single additional shot, therefore, would strongly suggest the presence of a second shooter.
Is there such evidence?
Crime scene photos show investigators pointing to bullet holes circled in door frames and a ceiling panel. To explain their presence with seven bullets already recovered from the victims, the LAPD Criminologist on the case, DeWayne Wolfer, conjured up not one, but five magic bullets that ricocheted around the room.
Still think Sirhan as the lone assassin is the most plausible explanation?
Even if we accepted the presence of magic bullets, the official autopsy report, by Los Angeles Coroner Thomas Noguchi, found that the fatal shot was fired from a distance of one inch to contact from behind Senator Kennedy.
This is completely at odds with eyewitness accounts of Sirhan's movements during the shooting. Witnesses said Sirhan approached Kennedy from the front, and no witness placed Sirhan closer than 3 feet before he was brought down. Others claimed they saw a second shooter.
A disturbing record also survives of LAPD investigators pressuring witnesses into changing their stories or suppressing their accounts, and destroying crucial case evidence. Before Sirhan's trial even began, LAPD personnel on the case burned over 2,400 photographs from the crime scene and the investigation in a medical waste incinerator. Among those photos were the only pre-operative photographs ever taken of Senator Kennedy. Other physical evidence, including a doorframe with bullet holes, was also later destroyed.
These facts alone cry out for a new trial and a thorough new investigation of the case.
We do not yet know the full truth about the death of Robert Kennedy.
The case must be reopened.