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Veteran reporter, DA spokesperson Sandi Gibbons is retiring

Robert F. Kennedy's speech at the Ambassador Hotel. Sandi Gibbons the woman in the white dress  on the bottom right.
Robert F. Kennedy's speech at the Ambassador Hotel, moments before he was fatally shot. Sandi Gibbons is the woman in the white dress at the bottom right.

Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan shared more than just criminal tendencies. Both of these infamous figures were covered by onetime reporter Sandi Gibbons, who went on to a long career as the public information officer at the L.A. District Attorney's office.

On March 31, Gibbons will retire from her 24-year stint with the D.A. Her name — which you may have heard on  countless KPCC appearances — is attached to a long list of feats and accomplishments.

Most recently, she is known for her service to four L.A. District Attorneys: Ira Reiner, Gil Garcetti, Steve Cooley and, presently, Jackie Lacey.

She talked to KPCC's Susanne Whatley Tuesday about the nature of her nearly two-and-a-half decades of work for the D.A.'s office.

"My job was really nothing special," Gibbons said. "It's just to make people understand better what the D.A.'s office does."

But now Gibbons has decided it's time to move on to some leisure time. 

"It's kind of bittersweet for me," she said. "I've been doing this a long time. I've made an awful lot of friends, and I'm gonna miss everybody. But I'll be around."

Before she became the D.A.'s spokesperson, Gibbons had an illustrious career as a Los Angeles-based reporter. Here's a short highlight of some of the stories she covered:

The Robert Kennedy assassination

On June 5, 1968, Gibbons was working for City News Service when she was sent to L.A.'s Ambassador Hotel. She was one of the few female reporters to cover Senator Kennedy's win in California's presidential primaries.

Kennedy finished his speech with the exclamation: "And now on to Chicago!" Gibbons squeezed her way through the crowd so she could phone in her story about the night's events.

"I ran to grab a payphone before other reporters so I could phone in my story," she said. "And as soon as I got to the payphone and put my money in, I heard people start screaming and I heard some pops."

She was later sent to LAX to report on the departure of the plane taking Kennedy's body to New York.

"As I've told people, it was the first time I've ever dictated and cried at the same time," Gibbons said.

The Sirhan Sirhan trial

In the aftermath, Gibbons was assigned to cover the trial of Kennedy's assassin. She described her first experience covering a trial from start to finish as mind-boggling. 

"I loved the courts, I loved the process, I loved to watch, and the drama of the courtroom is like nothing else you've ever seen," she said. "I was mezmerized by the court coverage."

Gibbons described the experience as a formative part of her career. She covered the entire trial for City News Service, until Sirhan was finally sentenced to life in prison.

The Charles Manson trial

In 1970, Gibbons covered the trial of the notorious cult leader Charles Manson. Gibbons could hardly forget the bizarre nature of the court proceedings.

"That was a weird time," she said. "And it was a weird trial. There were more things that happened in that trial that I don't think could ever happen in a courtroom again. Some of them were very funny. Some of them people thought were spooky."

She recalled some of the "spooky" moments, including an apprentice witch who brandished a knife in the middle of the trial, and spectators who experienced LSD flashbacks during court proceedings.