nr bpr nina rhodes-hughes rfk assassination_00000428
Witness claims second RFK shooter
01:33 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Witness says Sirhan Sirhan was not the only shooter in the pantry

Sirhan was the only person charged and convicted in RFK assassination

Witness says FBI altered her account of RFK shooting

Sirhan is serving a life sentence in the 1968 assassination

Los Angeles CNN  — 

As a federal court prepares to rule on a challenge to Sirhan Sirhan’s conviction in the Robert F. Kennedy assassination, a long overlooked witness to the murder is telling her story: She heard two guns firing during the 1968 shooting and authorities altered her account of the crime.

Nina Rhodes-Hughes wants the world to know that, despite what history says, Sirhan was not the only gunman firing shots when Kennedy was murdered a few feet away from her at a Los Angeles hotel.

“What has to come out is that there was another shooter to my right,” Rhodes-Hughes said in an exclusive interview with CNN. “The truth has got to be told. No more cover-ups.”

Her voice at times becoming emotional, Rhodes-Hughes described for CNN various details of the assassination, her long frustration with the official reporting of her account and her reasons for speaking out: “I think to assist me in healing – although you’re never 100% healed from that. But more important to bring justice.”

“For me it’s hopeful and sad that it’s only coming out now instead of before – but at least now instead of never,” Rhodes-Hughes told CNN by phone from her home near Vancouver, British Columbia.

Sirhan, the only person arrested, tried and convicted in the shooting of Kennedy and five other people, is serving a life sentence at Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California.

The U.S. District Court in Los Angeles is set to rule on a request by the 68-year-old Sirhan that he be released, retried or granted a hearing on new evidence, including Rhodes-Hughes’ firsthand account.

At his 1969 trial, Sirhan’s original defense team never contested the prosecution’s case that Sirhan was the one and only shooter in Kennedy’s assassination. Sirhan testified at his trial that he had killed Kennedy “with 20 years of malice aforethought,” and he was convicted and sentenced to death, which was reduced to life in prison in 1972.

After the trial, Sirhan recanted his courtroom confession.

In the recent federal court filings, state prosecutors led by California Attorney General Kamala Harris argue that even if there were a second gunman involved in the Kennedy shooting, Sirhan hasn’t proven his innocence and he’s still guilty of murder under California’s vicarious liability law.