Political assassinations are an unfortunately frequent occurrence in American history. Fanatics and ideologues have felt compelled to kill public servants based on what they believed was required by their personal philosophical views at an alarming rate.
In this episode, we examine the strange trial of Sirhan Sirhan, the man who murdered Senator Robert Kennedy at the Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968 over his vocal support of the state of Israel.
Sirhan was born in Jerusalem to Arab parents, who moved to California, ironically, to escape the violence of the Middle East. As a devoutly religious man, Sirhan became enmeshed in a mystical religious group who taught that sacrifice could bring him closer to unity with the divine. An aimless youth outside of his theological belief structure, he became increasingly anti-Zionist and anti-Israel. After the Six Day War took place in 1967, Sirhan became consumed with opposing anything and anyone who supported Israel, and that included Robert Kennedy. In response, Sirhan gunned down Kennedy in a room full of witnesses and made incriminating statements both at the scene and to law enforcement while recorded shortly thereafter.
Listen as Paul describes how Sirhan's attorneys attempted to claim that Sirhan was insane at the time of the shooting. Paul breaks down the insanity defense to explain what it does and does not cover, and what the protocols and procedures are which need to be exhibited to assert it. Paul also discusses plea bargaining, what the role of the judge is when the prosecutor and defense agree to resolve the case a certain way. Additionally, Paul examines both premeditation and motive, which one needs to be proven to a jury, and why both are still important.
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