Source: DAILY MAIL REPORTER
Robert F Kennedy was shot dead by two gunmen and not just ‘lone wolf’ Sirhan Sirhan, a witness stood just metres away from the presidential candidate in a Los Angeles hotel has claimed.
Nina Rhodes-Hughes, of Vancouver, Canada, is convinced Sirhan – sentenced to life imprisonment after the killing – was the not the only man firing shots that fateful 1968 day.
She told CNN: ‘What has to come out is that there was another shooter to my right. The truth has got to be told. No more cover-ups.’
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Aftermath: Robert F Kennedy in the moments after he was shot in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles
Rhodes-Hughes, now 78, claimed she had told FBI investigators she heard much more than eight shots, which was the maximum Sirhan could have fired with his small-caliber handgun.
The former television actress, who was working as a volunteer fundraiser for Kennedy’s campaign at the time, also said some of the ’12 to 14′ shots came from a different location to where the convicted murderer was standing.
But the ‘official reporting’ of the incident has left her frustrated after it was changed by the FBI, she claimed, to say that she only heard eight shots.
She added: ‘For me it’s hopeful and sad that it’s only coming out now instead of before – but at least now instead of never.
‘I never said eight shots. I never, never said it. There were more than eight shots. There were at least 12, maybe 14. And I know there were because I heard the rhythm in my head.
‘When they say only eight shots, the anger within me is so great that I practically – I get very emotional because it is so untrue. It is so untrue.
She said she ran out of the pantry, where the shooting took place, yelling: ‘They’ve killed him! They’ve killed him! Oh, my God, he’s dead! They’ve killed him!.’
‘Now, the reason I said, ‘they’ is because I knew there was more than one shooter involved. Although it was 44 years ago, I will swear that this is exactly what happened.
‘I remember it like it was almost yesterday, because you don’t forget something like that when it totally changes your life forever.
‘It took a great toll on me. For a while, even the backfiring of a car would send me into tears.’
Sirhan Sirhan, now 68, is currently serving a life sentence at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California.
He was the only person arrested, tried and convicted for the murder, and never contested the case, during his 1969 trial, that he was the only gunman.
Initially handed the death sentence, it was reduced to a life sentence in 1972.
But he is now trying to engineer his release on the grounds that he was not the only gunman and that it was not him that killed Kennedy.
He is now awaiting a U.S. District Court ruling which could see him released, re-tried or granted a hearing.
The hearing would take place on the production of new evidence – including Rhodes-Hughes’ eyewitness account.
His lawyer William Pepper called the alleged FBI alteration of her story ‘deplorable’ and ‘criminal’ and said it ‘mirrors the experience of other witnesses’.
Other witnesses have also mentioned hearing more than eight shots, but these have only been detailed in Los Angeles Police Department summaries and not FBI reports.
These included Estelyn Duffy LaHive, who thought she heard 10 shots, and Booker Griffin who said there was ‘two quick shots, followed by a slight pause, and then another 10 to 12 additional shots’.
A recently uncovered tape recording at the Ambassador Hotel’s pantry by freelance journalist Stanislaw Pruszynski also suggests there were 13 shots on June 5.
Analysis has revealed five of the shots could have been fired from another direction to where Sirhan’s weapon was positioned.
Kennedy’s autopsy report also revealed his body and clothing were struck from behind, at right rear, by four bullets fired at upward angles and at point-blank range.
But witnesses said Sirhan fired somewhat downward, almost horizontally, from several feet in front.
Rhodes-Hughes, whose witness account is now being reviewed by the federal judge, first met Kennedy two-and-a-half years before his death at NBC-TV studios in Burbank, California.
In the make-up room being prepared for her role in Morning Star, she said she was ‘starstruck’ when he entered. He was there to pre-record an interview.
She said: ‘I saw Robert Kennedy and everything else disappeared from view. There was an aura about him that was very captivating. He kind of pulled you in.
‘His eyes were very deep set and they were very blue. And when you looked at him, you got very drawn in to him.’
She said it was at that point she decided to help Kennedy, who was then a Senator for New York, should he ever decide to run for the top job of President.
Kennedy, the most seriously wounded of the six people shot, was gunned down just moments after claiming victory in California’s Democratic primary election.
He died the next day, while the other victims survived.
Although Sirhan’s lawyers are calling for his release, Rhodes-Hughes, who was never called to testify at the trial, said he should remain in prison.
She said: ‘To me, he was absolutely there. I don’t feel he should be exonerated. There definitely was another shooter. The constant cover-ups, the constant lies – this has got to stop.’