Sirhan's Attorneys Say There's New Evidence
(CN) - Sirhan Sirhan's attorneys claim they have new "exculpatory evidence of actual innocence" of Bobby Kennedy's assassin: that Sirhan was "hypno-programmed" by government operatives, that there was more than one gunman in the Ambassador Hotel and that the fatal bullet was switched in evidence at his trial.
The 62-page "Reply Brief on the Issue of Actual Innocence," filed in Los Angeles Federal Court, seeks to "set aside the original 1969 verdict and sentence and grant petitioner his freedom or order a new trial."
Sirhan, 67, has spent 42 years in San Quentin. He claims he has no memory of shooting Kennedy.
His attorneys claim Sirhan was subjected to hypnosis and mind control by shadowy government entities, setting him up to be a "Manchurian Candidate," programmed to shoot Kennedy - a claim Sirhan's attorneys did not pursue in 1969.
During his trial, the jury heard evidence from experts on both sides that Sirhan was suffering from "paranoid schizophrenia," according to the new appeal.
The brief states that new evidence from two experts casts reasonable doubt on Sirhan's schizophrenia diagnosis, opening the door to the idea that Sirhan was a patsy to divert attention from the real assassins.
The brief states: "Robert Kaiser, the journalist closest to the defense team, believed that the petitioner was hypno-programmed and so did Dr. Simson-Kallas, a psychologist at San Quentin prison when the petitioner arrived there. Dr. Simson-Kallas was asked to interview the petitioner by the supervising psychiatrist because the supervising psychiatrist did not find any evidence to support both the defense and prosecution experts' opinions of paranoid schizophrenia in the petitioner. ... After many hours of interviewing the petitioner, Dr. Simson-Kallas not only concluded that there was no evidence whatsoever for schizophrenia, he also concluded that the Petitioner might have been programmed," according to the Reply Brief.
Sirhan's attorneys - William Pepper of New York City and Laurie Dusek of Rego Park, N.Y. - claim, "Dr. Simson-Kallas was the only psychologist that had no affiliation to either the defense or the prosecution, who interviewed/examined the petitioner around the time of the crime".
The attorneys claim that "Respondent refuses to acknowledge that hypno programming/mind control is not fiction but reality and has been used for years by the U.S. military, Central Intelligence Agency and other covert organizations. According to Alan Scheflin, a world renowned expert in the field of mind control/hypno programming, research has been conducted to create multiple personalities for mind control purposes since the early 1940s and 'by the early 1950s, research was under way throughout the government to find any means possible to influence a person's thought and conducts.'"
The attorneys claim that Scheflin corroborated Kallas' diagnosis of Sirhan: "When asked to elaborate, Scheflin notes that Dr. Simson-Kallas commented that he became curious because Sirhan was unable to remember details of the crime, unlike most killers he interviewed. He said that Sirhan's description of the events appeared artificial, as if he was '... reciting from a book.' His description was more that of a person who dreamed an event that that of a participant. Dr. Simson-Kallas told Scheflin, petitioner '... was put up to draw attention while experts did the work. Being an Arab, he would easily be blamed. He was programmed to be there. He said to me that he actually liked Kennedy, that he held no animosity towards him.'" (Ellipses in brief.)
Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated on June 5, 1968, moments after being declared the winner of the California presidential primary. Roosevelt Grier, a retired NFL player, and others wrestled Sirhan to the floor after the shooting.
The official version states that eight bullets were fired that night at the Ambassador Hotel, and that three hit Kennedy.
The attorneys claim that new acoustic evidence shows there were actually 13 shots fired from at least two guns. They claim James Van Praag, an audio engineer, found an audio recording of the assassination and analyzed it, and drew those conclusions.
"Since he [Van Pragg] knew that the number of shots exceeded the capacity of petitioner's gun (with no possibility for him to reload it) it became evident that more than one gun must have been fired," according to the brief.
The attorneys claim that Sirhan did not fire the fatal shot, as he was in front of Kennedy, but the fatal shot came from behind Kennedy.
"Petitioner respectfully submits that there are at least 12 eyewitnesses, most of whose evidence was not heard by the judge or jury, who independently have given statements which have clearly placed petitioner in front of Senator Kennedy at the time of the shooting, although, understandably, the estimates of how close he was to the senator vary," the brief states.
The attorneys claim that after the second shot was fired, Sirhan's gun hand was pinned down to a steam table, rendering him unable to fire any more bullets.
"Petitioner was at all times in front of the senator and in no position to fire four shots at him at powder burn range evidenced by the powder burns on his jacket and the skin around his right ear," the brief states.
It's the bullet that struck Kennedy behind the ear, the fatal shot, that Sirhan's attorneys claim was switched in evidence during trial.
At the 1969 trial, Los Angeles Coroner Dr. Thomas Noguchi said he had removed the bullet from Kennedy's neck, and marked the base of the bullet "TN31," however, Sirhan's attorneys say that the prosecution switched bullet "TN31" with a bullet taken from Kennedy's spine, labeled "DW."
"Petitioner submits that this extraordinary contradiction means that the bullet in evidence at the trial which was removed from the body of Senator Kennedy, which was testified to as being matched with petitioner's gun, resulting in his conviction, was not, in fact, the Kennedy neck bullet which Dr. Noguchi testified that he had removed before the Grand Jury and the Board of Supervisors. 'DW' 'TN' was not the mark he placed on the base. Thus, it is irrefutable that the prosecution's case against Petitioner is completely undermined and must fall away," the brief states.
"... With respect to the facts set out above it appears to be undeniable that a fraud has been committed upon the court, in the absence of which it is more probable than not that no reasonable juror would have voted to convict and no jury would have been convicted. ...
"The seriousness of the fraud upon the court requires in the interests of justice that this verdict should be set aside and Petitioner should be set free, or minimally, given the opportunity through a new trial or an evidentiary hearing, to test all of the new evidence set out herein. ... Petitioner fully understands that he is likely to be deported to Jordan where he would hope to quietly live out the rest of his life with family and friends, but at long last he would, at least, have received long delayed justice."