June 10, 2008 — -- With a day's worth of stubble and his cheeks turning jowly, he looks no more dangerous than an aging uncle. But this is the latest mug shot of the killer who was once the most hated man in America — Sirhan Sirhan.
The mug shot was taken March 27 in California State Prison in Corcoran, two months before the 40th anniversary of his assassination of Robert Kennedy Jr. It was first made public by TheSmokingGun Web site.
"Offender photos are taken periodically throughout an inmate's incarceration because a person's appearance does change over the years," said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation.
Sirhan is housed in the prison's protective custody unit "due to his infamous notoriety," said the Corcoran facility's public information officer, Sabrina Johnson.
"Because we are already providing him with protective custody, we didn't take any extra precautions" as last week's sad anniversary was widely observed, Johnson said.
Sirhan is secluded and protected from the general prison population. He takes meals in his cell, and his only companions are other notorious inmates who need protective custody, like serial murderer Charles Manson, Johnson said.
Now 64, the country's most notorious living assassin was largely forgotten last week when the nation again mourned Kennedy's death in the June 5, 1968 shooting.
When asked if Sirhan gets many visitors, Johnson said, "Not often."
Sirhan was 24 when he shot RFK in the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Tried and convicted, he was sentenced to death, a verdict that was later commuted to life in prison.
Sirhan claimed he killed Kennedy because he was angry over Kennedy's support for Israel. Sirhan was born in Jerusalem to Arab Christian parents who had moved to America when Sirhan was 12. The assassination occurred on the first anniversary of the Six Day War in which Israel had humiliated the combined armies of its Arab neighbors.
Sirhan's next chance at parole is scheduled for 2011.