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According to Yorty, Sirhan wrote that Kennedy must be killed before June 5, the first anniversary of the last Arab-Israeli war, a date that has detonated demonstrations in some Arab countries (see THE WORLD). Sirhan was also said to have written "Long live Nasser." Yorty went on to characterize Sirhan as pro-Communist and anti-American, and to imply that he might have had some extremist connections. In contrast, the police and prosecutor had been bending over backward to protect Sirhan's legal rights—advising him of his right to counsel and his right to remain silent, calling in a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union to watch out for the suspect's interests.
It Hurt Us Bad. Aside from its legal implications, Yorty's garrulousness could fuel a new round of conspiracy theories—although conspirators with any skill would hardly have used so light a revolver as a .22. Many found it difficult to believe that the assassinations of John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were unrelated. Some blamed right-wing extremists; others concluded that all three slayings were part of a Communist plot to divide and weaken the U.S.
For the principals in last week's drama, the speculative and the possible were blotted out by all too real events. Robert Kennedy lived for 25 hours and 27 minutes after being shot on a cruelly elongated Wednesday that the nation is likely to remember in the context of that Friday in 1963. Of all the words last week, some of the most poignant came from Mary Sirhan, who sent a telegram to the Kennedys. "It hurts us very bad what has happened," Mrs. Sirhan said. "And we express our feelings with them and especially with the children and with Mrs. Kennedy and with the mother and the father and I want them to know that I am really crying for them all. And we pray that God will make peace, really peace, in the hearts of people."
More Faith. The "mother and father" —Joseph Kennedy, 79, long partially paralyzed by a stroke, and Rose, 77, who has survived sorrow as intense as that meted out by the gods to the houses of Cadmus and Atreus. Of their nine children, they have buried four: Joe Jr., who died in World War II; Kathleen, who perished in a 1948 plane crash; John, and now Bobby, at the age of 42. Rosemary, 48, has been a lifelong victim of mental retardation. Ted, now the only remaining son, nearly died in a 1964 plane accident. While he was recovering Bobby cracked: "I guess the only reason we've survived is that there are too many of us. There are more of us than there is trouble." The curse of violent death has extended beyond the immediate family. Ethel's parents died in one plane crash, her brother George in another. George's wife Joan later choked to death on food lodged in her throat. Kathleen's husband was killed in World War II.