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Handwritten notes by Robert F. Kennedy assassin Sirhan Sirhan shed new light on killer

A recent photo of Sirhan Sirhan, 66.Last month his lawyer tried to convince a parole board that Sirhan Sirhan was a brainwashed hit man when he gunned down Sen. Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968.

But handwritten notes purportedly from Sirhan, kept for 42 years by a Century City business executive, suggest that his behavior was calculated and controlled as he waited to shoot the presidential candidate in the hotel’s kitchen pantry area.

Michael McCowan was an investigator and the youngest member of Sirhan’s defense team in 1969 when the accused assassin wrote the narrative of his visit to a target practice range and his later election-night trip to the hotel trip on a legal notepad.

RFK “He wrote it right in front of me,” said McCowan, now 78. Sirhan signed a second statement giving McCowan the rights to the documents, which next week will be sold by a Brentwood auction house.

In March, Sirhan appeared before a parole board for his 14th hearing since his conviction in May 1969.

The lawyer currently representing Sirhan suggested he was “manipulated” and “set up” and did not act alone when Kennedy was shot.

William Pepper, who could not be reached Wednesday for comment at his New York office, said Sirhan did not remember the shooting because he was “hypno-programmed” to kill Kennedy.

McCowan disagrees. “It never seemed to me to be a conspiracy. He wanted to be a martyr for the Palestinian cause,” he said of Sirhan.

“Sirhan’s not stupid. In his 10th-grade history book from his high school in Pasadena he’d underlined the assassination of President McKinley and on the next page of Archduke Ferdinand.”

Sirhan had then written words to the effect that there would be many more such assassinations, McCowan said. “I think he wanted to be a martyr. To me, he was the first terrorist,” he said.

Before volunteering for Sirhan’s defense team, McCowan had been a Los Angeles police officer and earned his law degree. He offered to help defense lawyers “because everybody’s entitled to a defense, to their day in court,” as he put it Wednesday.

Along with the handwritten narrative, materials being sold in the online auction include a telegram from the mother of Lee Harvey Oswald, the killer of President John F. Kennedy, to Sirhan’s mother, Mary Sirhan. “Please accept my sincerest and deepest sympathy,” Marguerite Oswald wrote in 1968.

Many of those involved with Sirhan’s trial are dead. McCowan is the last survivor from the defense team.

In the trial’s closing arguments, Sirhan lawyer Grant Cooper acknowledged that “we are not here to free a guilty man. He is guilty of having killed Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.”

Sirhan was incapable of premeditation, added another of his lawyers, Russell Parsons, who praised the testimony of psychiatrists and psychologists who labeled Sirhan as a paranoid schizophrenic.

Prosecutor Lynn Compton, a chief deputy district attorney, argued that the psychiactric expertise had “highly overcomplicated” the case. One psychologist had testified that Sirhan had been in some sort of hypnotic trance when he shot Kennedy.

Sirhan, now 66 and serving a life sentence, was denied parole at last month’s hearing. Deputy Dist. Atty. David Dahle, who represented prosecutors at the hearing, was out of town and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

But Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for his office, was a news reporter in 1968 who saw Kennedy moments before he was killed and then covered Sirhan’s trial.

She said the auction-bound narrative was never introduced as evidence. “Sirhan had a diminished-capacity defense,” Gibbons said.


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Photos, from top: A recent photo of Sirhan Sirhan, now 66; Robert Kennedy lies mortally wounded on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles as busboy Juan Romero tries to give aid on June 5, 1968. Credit: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; Boris Yaro / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (28)

As Michael McCowan well knows, even if Nate Sanders has no clue, these yellow legal pad handwritten notes and their drawing are worthless.

Michael McCowan is hyping these writings and this sketch so that some gullible person with deep pockets will shell out big bucks for them only to be bitterly disappointed later.

McCowan falsely states that Sirhan claims he can't remember what happened that night. That's not what Sirhan claims. For 43 years, Sirhan has consistently claimed that he remembers many details from June 4-5, 1968 with only one exception: the RFK shooting.

Sirhan has claimed he remembers going to the gun range, to the Ambassador Hotel, to the Rafferty and Cranston election night parties, drinking Tom Collins like it was kool-ade and having coffee with a girl. The next thing Sirhan claims he remembers is being choked in the hotel's kitchen pantry moments after the shooting. Thus the shooting is a blank, he claims. Sirhan has never wavered from this 43-year-old account.

Clearly these writings and this drawing do not in any way contradict Sirhan's account or his current defense as represented by his lead attorney, Dr. William F. Pepper of New York. The reason for this is simple, as McCowan well knows but won't admit because it would hurt his effort to cash in: These writings do not fill in the Sirhan memory gap. In fact, they support it.

Nowhere in the writings is anything mentioning Sirhan's remembrances of going to the pantry, where Bobby Kennedy was shot at 12:16 AM on June 5. And the sketch does not depict the pantry crime scene but shows only the lobby areas, including the Cranston and Rafferty meeting rooms (which Sirhan has long discussed over the years). By absence of any mention or depiction of the pantry, the writings and the drawing contain this very same memory gap and thus support Sirhan's decades-old account.

So the writings and the drawing add no new information that wasn’t already known at trial in 1969 or publicly acknowledged by Sirhan. They contain no new revelation, nothing that fills in the Sirhan memory gap and nothing that either destroys Sirhan's hopes for eventual release or contradicts the assertions of his current defense (which is that he can't remember the RFK shooting because he was hypno-programmed by his handlers to fire a gun at Kennedy and to then forget all details of the shooting and the programming).

Sadly, McCowan is desperately betting that Sanders doesn't know this, that the lazy media don't know this, and he is shamefully (or shamelessly) hoping to make a quick buck off their ignorance, off Sirhan and off this American tragedy.

Sanders, are you going to wise up? Or are you really going to help McCowan get away with this?

Anyone ever hear of MKULTRA, the CIA mind control program ?

JFK and Malcom X, the early assassinations, done with the usual kind of covert operatives.

RFK, MLK, Ronald Reagan, John Lennon, and others, done with 'mind controlled' operatives, so that someone would be available to prosecute and lock away in perpetuity as being labled 'crazy'.

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