LOS ANGELES (CNN) --
Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of the 1968 assassination of presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, should be freed from prison or granted a new trial based on "formidable evidence" asserting his innocence and "horrendous violations" of his rights, defense attorneys said in federal court papers filed this week.In a U.S. District Court brief, Sirhan's lawyers also say that an expert analysis of recently uncovered evidence shows two guns were fired in the assassination and that Sirhan's revolver was not the gun that shot Kennedy. Attorneys William F. Pepper and Laurie D. Dusek also allege that fraud was committed in Sirhan's 1969 trial when the court allowed a substitute bullet to be admitted as evidence for a real bullet removed from Kennedy's neck.
The attorneys further assert that Sirhan was "hypno-programmed" to be a diversion for the real assassin, & allege that Sirhan would be easy to blame for assassination because he is an Arab. Sirhan, 67, is a Christian Palestinian born in Jerusalem, whose parents brought him & his siblings to America in the 1950s. Sirhan "was an involuntary participant in the crimes being committed because he was subjected to sophisticated "hypno programming" and "memory implantation" techniques, which rendered him unable to consciously control his thoughts & actions at the time the crimes were being committed," court papers said.
The California Attorney General's office declined to comment Saturday on Sirhan's court filings. Court papers filed by Sirhan's attorneys say the state "refuses to acknowledge that hypnotic programming/ mind control is not fiction, but reality, & has been used for years by the U.S. military, the CIA & other covert organizations." Though the practices of "hypno programming"/"mind control" is hardly new, the public has been shielded from the darker side of the practice. The average person is unaware that hypnosis can, and is, used to induct antisocial conduct in humans,"
Pepper and Dusek represented Sirhan earlier this year in his unsuccessful request for parole from Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California, (200 miles northwest of Los Angeles). He is serving a life sentence. Sirhan was convicted of killing Kennedy and wounding five other people during the (June 5, 1968) shooting inside the kitchen service pantry of the former Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. / Three bullets struck Kennedy's body while a 4th bullet passed harmlessly through the shoulder of his suit coat. Kennedy, the most seriously wounded of the six victims, died the next day. The other 5 people survived their wounds.The substitute bullet was introduced in the trial as the actual bullet removed from Kennedy's neck, & alleged to have been matched to Sirhan's gun.
Pepper and Dusek are requesting a hearing to present dramatic new findings that they say show a kitchen crossfire in the hotel. An analysis of a recently uncovered audiotape of the assassination shows that in addition to the 8 gunshots fired by Sirhan's Iver-Johnson handgun, 5 other shots were fired by a second gun from the opposite direction. The sound recording "clearly showed that 13 shots were fired in the pantry, and Sirhan's gun had only 8 shots, so it definitely means there was a second shooter" Pepper told CNN. The tape was made 40 feet away from the crime scene by freelance newspaper reporter Stanislaw Pruszynski. It is the only known recording of the gunshots fired in Robert Kennedy's assassination.
The recording was uncovered in 2004, by CNN's Brad Johnson, who had it independently examined by two experts, Spence Whitehead and Philip Van Praag. They concluded, individually, that more than 8 shots were captured in the tape. In their court filings, Pepper and Dusek are focusing on Van Praag's analysis. Van Praag concludes that the Pruszynski recording is authentic and reveals that, over a 5-second period in the pantry, two guns fired 13 shots, exceeding the capacity of the 8-shot Iver-Johnson Cadet -- the only gun that Sirhan possessed, & had no opportunity to reload.
Van Praag rules out the possibility that any of the 13 shots were echoes, ricochets or non-gunshot sounds. He also finds that some of the shots were fired too rapidly, at intervals too close together for all the shots to have come from Sirhan's inexpensive handgun. Van Praag further concludes that the 5 shots fired opposite the direction of Sirhan's 8 shots, displayed a "frequency anomaly", that indicates the second gun's make and model were different from Sirhan's weapon.
Pepper said that witnesses reported Sirhan was standing several feet in front of Kennedy & firing nearly horizontally, --- while the medical evidence showed Kennedy's body & clothing were struck by 4 bullets fired point-blank from behind the Senator at steep upward angles. Witnesses reported that bystanders grabbed Sirhan immediately after he fired his first two shots, and that they had his firing arm pinned against a steam table, forcing Sirhan to fire his gun's remaining six bullets away from Kennedy, (striking other people instead). For decades following the 1968 assassination, Sirhan had claimed he could not remember the Kennedy shooting. Pepper and Dusek argue this is because he was "hypno-programmed" to fire his gun in the pantry, & to then forget the shooting, to forget his programming, & those who had programmed him.
In 2008, Pepper hired a Harvard University memory expert who says he got the imprisoned Sirhan to recall the Kennedy shooting for the first time. That expert is Daniel Brown, an associate clinical professor in psychology at Harvard Medical School who submitted a statement to the parole board after interviewing Sirhan for 60 hours over a three-year period. Brown says Sirhan now remembers that when he fired his shots in the pantry, he believed he was at a gun range & shooting at circular targets. Brown believes Sirhan was programmed to do this, to cause a distraction in the pantry, allowing a second gunman to secretly shoot Kennedy from behind. Brown is described in Sirhan's court papers as "one of the world's foremost experts in hypno programming." Brown says Sirhan now remembers hearing loud sounds described as "the thunderclap of other bullets" being fired by another gun in the pantry. Sirhan also recalls seeing flashes in front of him that he associates with gunfire inside the pantry, but not coming from his own weapon. Pepper accused both prosecutors & Sirhan's lead attorney, (Grant Cooper, who has since died), of misconduct in the 1969 trial. Cooper was then under federal indictment for illegally possessing grand jury minutes in an unrelated case, but the indictment was dropped right after Sirhan's sentencing.
"The state suppressed, destroyed & withheld a great deal of evidence," Pepper said in an interview Saturday. Sirhan's "counsel provided totally ineffective assistance & collaborated with the prosecution, in violation of his 6th Amendment rights." The prosecution told the judge in chambers that we do not have foundation for some of our ballistics evidence, and the defense counsel immediately jumped in and said, "don't worry about that, we will stipulate that all of the ballistics evidence is what you say it is." Los Angeles County prosecutors couldn't immediately comment Saturday. Pepper said: "This is one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice imaginable, and because it relates to the assassination of a man who would likely have been president of the United States, the feeling of sadness is irrepressible in these circumstances."
Pepper said he personally knew Kennedy & his family, and ran his campaign in the heavily GOP Westchester County in New York, back when Kennedy, a Democrat, successfully ran for the United States Senate.
Sirhan never became a U.S. citizen, so if he were released from prison, he would be deemed an illegal immigrant and likely be deported to Jordan, where he has extended family, Pepper said. In 1968, the 42-year-old Kennedy, younger brother of the assassinated President John F. Kennedy, was a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination against Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Sen. Eugene McCarthy.
On the night of his assassination, Kennedy had just appeared on live television in an Ambassador Hotel ballroom, where he had claimed victory over McCarthy in the California primary election. Moments later, he was fatally wounded in the hotel service pantry while on his way to a press conference, set for a small banquet room just beyond the pantry. The shooting in the pantry was not captured by any cameras.
At Sirhan's 1969 trial, prosecutors argued Sirhan killed Kennedy because of statements the New York senator made about the US sending fighter jets to aid Israel. But in the court papers filed this week, Sirhan's attorneys dismissed that allegation as a "most speculative motive," without any sworn statements for substantiation. Sirhan was the only person arrested in Robert Kennedy's murder.
----------CNN's Brad Johnson contributed to this report.----Copyright CNN 2011