Clay Shaw trial: Closing arguments by Irvin Dymond
CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT
PARISH OF ORLEANS
STATE OF LOUISIANA
STATE OF LOUISIANA vs. CLAY L. SHAW
EXCERPT OF THE TESTIMONY TAKEN IN OPEN COURT
February 28, 1969
B E F O R E: THE HONORABLE EDWARD A. HAGGERTY, JR., JUDGE, SECTION "C"
THE COURT: Well, it is about seven and a half, almost eight minutes to six.
Mr. Dymond, I suspect you will be the next person to argue, and I think this
would be the right time -- rather than to let you start and interrupt, I think
it would be best to break for supper. The security agents are here from the
THE BAILIFF: Order in court.
THE COURT: Gentlemen, you are the best judges of this. I am just trying to find out. Do you think since the Rowntowner Motel is not too far away and we can get there quickly in the bus, do you think you can manage with a one-hour dinner recess? Off the record.
(Discussion off the record.)
THE COURT: Gentlemen, we are going to recess until 7:30. You understand what is going to happen. Mr. Dymond, you will then argue, and I will expect the State to follow you tonight. If I have time at that point, I have my charge finished, and I will check it out. I have it prepared, but I will not hold up the case in any way with reference to my charge to the Jury. Now, how far we are going to work tonight depends on when we start at 7:30, and depending how long it gets to be, at the right time, after I have given my charge, depending on the hour, it is a question of whether or not the Jury feels too fatigued to start deliberating or whether they wish to deliberate for some small period of time or would rather go ahead and get a night's sleep and start delib- erating tomorrow. I think we will just leave that question in abeyance at the moment and see what time it takes for the argument and for my reasonable charge to the Jury. All right, Gentlemen of the Jury, I am going to excuse you for the dinner hour. Off the record.
(Discussion off the record.)
THE COURT: We stand recessed until 7:30.
(Thereupon, at 6:00 o'clock p.m. the jurors were placed under the Rule, and Court recessed until 7:30 o'clock p.m.)
. . . . Pursuant to the recess, the proceedings herein were resumed at 7:40
o'clock p.m., appearances being the same as heretofore noted in the record . .
THE COURT: Are the State and the Defense ready to proceed?
MR. DYMOND: we are ready, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Proceed, Mr. Dymond.
MR. DYMOND: May it please Your Honor: Gentlemen of the Jury, first I would like to join Mr. Alcock in thanking all of you for the very obvious close attention that you have given to a long, tedious trial. I know it has not been easy on you, but you have certainly discharged your duty well. Also at the outset I would like to further state what Mr. Alcock in fairness has stated, and that is that once the Defense sits down from this argument and turns the argument over to the State in rebuttal, we are of necessity finished. The fact that we do not get up and answer anything that is said by the State in its rebuttal is certainly not because we have nothing to say in answer to that, not because we can't answer it, but because we are prohibited by law from doing so. I wanted to make that abundantly clear to you, gentlemen.
Gentlemen, let me say at the outset that I do not think that a criminal trial is any place for innuendoes, veiled accusations, hints of guilt of wrongdoing or the like. I say that by way of suggestion that if the State means to charge the Government of our country with fraud, deceit, dishonesty, unscrupulous conduct, and most every other derogatory word of which you can think, let them come forward and say so. Certainly the hint, the innuendo, up until this point has been to that effect. Now I think that you all know, and I know that you all should know, that the Warren Commission is not on trial in this courtroom, the Warren Report is not on trial. This is a case against Clay Shaw, who is charged specifically with having conspired to murder President Kennedy.
Now, first let me make my position clear, and that is that I as an American citizen, as what I feel and think to be a loyal American citizen, cannot and will not accept the suggestion that the Warren Commission was guilty of one giant fraud, that the United States Government was guilty of one giant fraud, as the State would have it, a deliberately conceived fraud, fraudulent plan to deceive the people of the United States as to the circumstances surrounding the death of our late President. I cannot and will not buy that nor accept it.
Let me say, gentlemen, that I will be the first to admit that the Warren Commission did not do a perfect job, but again I say that it is my feeling that the members of this Commission discharged their job, discharged their duties honorably and well, and to say that they are a fraudulent group and that this fraud is joined in by our very Government, I cannot believe.
When I hear such accusations as these, gentlemen, I must ask myself why and how. Have you ever stopped to think just how inconceivable it is that the Federal Government -- and when I say the Federal Government, I can go beyond that -- that our Secret Ser- vice, our FBI, the Justice Department, the Dallas Police Department, the doctors at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, the doctors in the Bethesda Naval Hospital, would all join together to try to make our American public believe that our President was killed by shots fired from the sixth floor of the School Book Depository when in fact he was killed by bullets from elsewhere? Gentlemen, what earthly conceivable reason could there be for that? If there is one, I do not know of it.
Now, gentlemen, I say how, and when I say how, I call upon you as intelligent mature individuals and ask you whether you think it is possible -- and I accent the word possible as distinguished from probable -- that there could be this many people -- the Dallas police, the FBI, the Justice Department, the Secret Service, right on down the line, the doctors, all the people in that crowded autopsy room -- that there could be all of those people a party to this fraudulent scheme, and that five and on-half years could have elapsed and not one person would have come forward and said, Look, I want to tell the truth; I was told to lie but I am not going to stick to it any more. Gentlemen, I submit to you that that is absolutely beyond belief.
Now, yes, you have seen things pointed out about the Warren Report that are subject to question. I am the first to admit that. But a fraudulent scheme as the State would have you believe, no.
Now, gentlemen, I am launching into what you would consider a tirade in defense of the Warren Report, and, as you know, we have been very limited in the evidence that we have presented along those lines, but once again before I launch into what evidence we did have in that connection, let me say that I know that you are not lawyers, but I also know that you don't have to be lawyers to distinguish between a contest over the validity of the Warren Report and a contest over the question of whether this Defendant, Clay Shaw, sat in an apartment at 3330 Louisiana Avenue Parkway with Lee Harvey Oswald and David Ferrie and planned the killing of the President of the United States, conspired to kill him.
Gentlemen, please bear in mind that that is the question that you are here to pass on. There may be some among you who violently disapprove of the Warren Report. To these I want to accentuate this statement: that is, that a verdict of acquittal of Clay Shaw does not constitute your stamp of approval on the report issued by the Warren Commission. I say that not apologetically, gentlemen, but I say it out of practicality, recognizing the possibility that there may be among you those who feel that way. Now, gentlemen, getting on to the Warren Report, as I say, we came before you in the opening statement and told you that we had neither the time, the inclination, nor the money to come here and defend the Warren Report. That statement was a true statement. However, we did feel that it was well and necessary to present to you some of the basic indispensable evidence that should be given to you, if for no other purpose, to show you the real purpose of this presentation, this pageant, this trial of Clay Shaw. As you will remember, the first witness that we put on in connection with the Warren Report was Mr. Frazier, the FBI ballistics expert.
Gentlemen, I was somewhat taken aback when the State actually had the temerity to come before you in a closing argument and question the fact that this man was an expert. The reason that it shocked me, gentlemen, was that upon an examination of the State's opening argument, what do you see but a statement to the effect that not the Defense but that the State will offer the testimony of Special Agent Robert A. Frazier of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an expert in the field of ballistics.
Gentlemen, we didn't get Mr. Frazier down here, the State subpoenaed Mr. Frazier, got him down here and obviously didn't like what they heard, so we decided to use him. Great criticism has been thrown out, the testimony of Mr. Frazier has been violently attacked. The State comes before you and says, what does this man mean trying to tell you about a re-enactment in Dallas which was the monumental flop of the century?
Let me remind you, gentlemen, that this re-enactment was done in furtherance of the basic purpose of the Warren Commission, for the purpose of determining the facts surrounding the death of President Kennedy. The Warren Commission nor anyone else at that time had any idea, had any reason to believe that when the President's Commission did issue its report that it would be pounced upon by a group of vultures, that it would be used by a group of people previously relatively obscure, and as a means to climb to fame and fortune over the body of our dead President. The Warren Commission was told what the purpose of its formation was, and it went ahead and did its job.
Mr. Frazier told you how the scene was re-enacted, Mr. Frazier told you that he was in the sixth floor window of the Book Depository and a complete presidential parade was re-enacted there, and that as a result of this examination it was his opinion as an expert in the field of ballistics that the President was hit in the back with one shot from the School Book Depository window, and in the back of the head with another shot from the window.
Now, just what the State's position is in regard to Mr. Frazier, I don't know. Do you they contend that he isn't an expert? I hardly see how they could have subpoenaed him as an expert themselves. Do they contend that he is just flat lying? Possibly they will come before you and say that. They may well do that if they see fit to come before you and allege that giant, impossible, fraudulent scheme that I have mentioned.
Next, gentlemen, we put on the stand Dr. Pierre Finck. Gentlemen, when Dr. Finck finished his testimony on direct examination, the State pounced upon him like a mountain lion on a chained goat; and I will say this, that they made great capital of the language difficulty which I am sure was obvious to all of you, but I will also say this, that I know, I am confident, that there is not one man on this Jury who doubted the integrity of that little doctor, who doubted his professional ability and his devotion to his profession. I don't think there is one man here who had any doubt on any of those.
It quite amused me, gentlemen, to hear Mr. Oser in his closing argument referring to Dr. Finck as a "Quote Pathologist." Gentlemen, could Mr. Oser have forgotten the testimony of Dr. John Nichols to the effect that he was a student under Dr. Finck at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology? And then Dr. Nichols takes the witness stand and flatly contradicts the testimony of Dr. Finck, and Mr. Oser sees fit to flatly adopt Dr. Nichols'. It seems a little peculiar to me that the good Dr. Nichols would pay money to go and be taught by someone who knows less than he does. It doesn't make too much sense. Then, gentlemen, speaking of devotion to purpose, devotion to profession, motive in testifying, let us also draw another little distinction between Dr. Nichols and Dr. Finck.
This is something of which Dr. Nichols was very proud (exhibiting sketch to jurors.) It is a sketch looking down on the backbone. This sketch was shown to you when it was introduced in evidence, but if you look a little more closely now, you will see that there is something different: "Copyright TV 14490. John Nichols, 1968. All rights reserved." Dr. Nichols had to see to it that he could go into the back office there and protect his money/property rights in that sketch. Gentlemen, I have told you about other people who are attempting and have attempted to rise to fame and fortune over the body of our late President. It looks as though we may have another member of the club.
Now getting on with Dr. Finck, gentlemen, bear in mind that this is not a doctor who arrived at his professional opinions, his professional conclusions, by looking at the Zapruder film, by firing slugs through the wrists of a cadaver. This little doctor from Switzerland, gentlemen, is one of the men who actually performed the autopsy on the body of our late President, who actually viewed these wounds, who actually saw where these wounds were, and who decided whether it was necessary to mangle the neck of the body of our late President to trace the path of a bullet when he could obviously see the point of entrance and a fellow pathologist had told him about the point of exit. Bear in mind, gentlemen, that this isn't a man speaking from movies, from experiments, from theory; this is a man who was there, he was on the scene. And what does Dr. Finck tell us in his opinion? His opinion is precisely that of Mr. Frazier but based upon a different expertise, that our President was hit from two shots from the rear.
We then come to another very unusual spot in the State's presentation, gentlemen. That is with respect to the FBI photographic expert. This case has been going on a long time and you may have forgotten, but this gentleman was not our witness, this gentleman was put on the witness stand by the State, and when the State puts a man on the witness stand they vouch for his credibility, and then they come before you in the opening argument and try to belittle, run down, downgrade the testimony of their own witness. Once again, we have a professional opinion of a true professional photographer, photographic analyst, coinciding with the opinions of the other two experts.
Now, gentlemen, these are just three experts. Add to what about 3,000 more, and I would tell you how many lips would have to be sealed if these people had been told what opinions to form, if a whip had been held over them, if they had been told to cheat, defraud, deceive the American people. I submit to you, gentlemen, that that is utterly and absolutely inconceivable.
Gentlemen, getting on with the State's case, I had mentioned that I felt that there seven facets to this case. I would like to go down the line on these facets and analyze them, see what has been shown and what hasn't been shown. The first one that we will touch upon is Clinton, Louisiana.
Let me first say that you have here a group of witnesses who come forward some five years after an alleged happening back in 1963, and out of a one-man lineup, which is what it amounted to, identified this Defendant, Clay Shaw, as someone whom they had seen in Clinton. Now I am not going to bore you with what each one of these witnesses said, but just let me point out a couple of discrepancies here that I think should be considered.
You have one man saying that he had a hat on, another one saying he did not have a hat on -- the same day. The one that said he did have a hat on supposedly identified him by his gray hair. One of these witnesses said that he had a white shirt on, the other said he had a dark shirt on. One of the witnesses could not even tell you whether the care was parked to the right or to the left as you came out of the Voter Registration Office. And how do all of these witnesses happen to remember this particular day? I doubt that you remember, gentlemen, because it seemed insignificant at the time. They knew that it was right in late August or early September because it was cold, they had a fire and it was really a nice cool day.
If you will remember, gentlemen, we put into evidence the records of the United States Weather Bureau, we had the weatherman testify here that during that entire period there was one day, gentlemen -- one day! -- when the high was under 90 degrees, it went down to 89 or 88 on that one day. Gentlemen, I think that it is appropriate, in view of the fact that we are dealing here with eye-witness identification, as we lawyers call it, and as I call this particular one awfully stale, weak eye-witness identification, that I read to you what Justice Brennan of the United States Supreme Court had to say in quoting Justice Frankfurter in regard to eye-witness identification.
This is read from the United States Supreme Court decision in the case of United States vs. Wade, which was decided in 1967. This, gentlemen, is written by a Supreme Court Justice, as are all Supreme Court Opinions, which someone who of necessity knows his way around courtrooms, knows what types of testimony are dependable, what types should be case aside; "The vagaries of eye-witness identification are well known. The annals of criminal law are rife with instances of mistaken identification. Mr. Justice Frankfurter once said (and here is where he goes on to quote him): 'What is the worth of identification testimony even when uncontradicted? The identification of strangers is proverbially untrustworthy. The hazards of such testimony are established by a formidable number of instances in the records of English and American trials. These instances are recent, not due to the brutalities of ancient criminal procedure. The case of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927, a major factor contributing to the high incidence of miscarriage of justice from mistaken identification, has been the degree of suggestion inherent in the manner in which the prosecution present the suspect to witnesses for pretrial identification.'"
That, gentlemen, will call your attention to the one-man lineup deal that we had. A commentator has observed that the influence of improper suggestion upon identifying witnesses probably accounts for more miscarriages of justice than any other single factor. Perhaps it is responsible for more such errors than all other factors combined.
"With all eye-witness identification in criminal cases, suggestion can be created intentionally or unintentionally in many subtle ways, and the dangers for the suspect are particularly grave when the witness's opportunity for observation was insubstantial and thus his susceptibility to suggestion the greatest. Moreover, it is a matter of common experience that once a witness has picked out the accursed at the lineup, he is not likely to go back on his word later on. So that in practice the issue of identity may in the absence of other relevant evidence for all practical purposes be determined then and there before the trial."
I thought, gentlemen, it was appropriate to read that to you to aid you in evaluating these Clinton, Louisiana, witnesses. However, we will also ask that you consider the witnesses which the Defendant put on in this pageant.
We brought before you Mr. Lloyd C. Cobb. Gentlemen, I can unhesitatingly say that no one who knows Mr. Cobb would argue with the fact that he is one of the leading citizens of New Orleans, a man who would not dream of getting on that witness stand and lying, perjuring himself for anybody or anything. Mr. Cobb testified to you that during this same period when this Defendant was supposed to be running around the countryside up to Clinton, Louisiana, running up there with David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald, who-have-you, that Mr. Cobb and this Defendant, Clay Shaw, were engaged in perhaps the three or four busiest months in the lives of either one of them.
Now, gentlemen, this was not something that Mr. Cobb had to call on his memory for in order to determine the dates. He has his leases, he knew when they were negotiating these leases, he knew when his deadline was, and I am sure that when you heard the testimony of Mr. Cobb that he knew where Clay Shaw was during every working day -- and this had to be a working day up in Clinton, the barbershops were open, the Voter Registration Office was open -- that you knew that it was absolutely ridiculous to believe that this man would be running up to Clinton for any purpose, or that he could have done it and not have been missed by Mr. Cobb.
Now, this testimony was corroborated by that of Miss Goldie Moore, Mr. Cobb's secretary while he was in the Trade Mart. I recall Miss Moore goofed a bit on the dates. As you undoubtedly noticed, she had the dates mixed up as to when this busy period was. She was one month off. But, gentlemen, that doesn't change the picture. There is no way in the world that this Defendant could have been in Clinton, Louisiana, when the State claims that he was there, unless Lloyd Cobb is lying, Goldie Moore is lying, and Clay Shaw is lying. Now, if you can conclude that on the basis of the type of identification that we had from Clinton, more power to you. I don't see how you can.
We go on, gentlemen, from the Clinton episode to this deal with Vernon Bundy on the Lakefront. Now, gentlemen, Mr. Alcock said that he would not apologize to you for having put Bundy on the witness stand. Well, let me say that now I as an officer of the Court will apologize to you for your having been subjected to him. And I mean that. Gentlemen, this fantastic story that this convicted thief, this admitted liar, this inveterate and veteran narcotics addict, told on this witness stand is worthy of Alice in Wonderland.
Let's look at it. Let's consider something that Mr. Alcock -- something else that he said in his opening argument. He told you that when Bundy was sitting out on that seawall that he had only two things in mind: shooting those narcotics and avoiding arrest, and that is why he was able to look right at Mr. Shaw and be sure of his identification.
Gentlemen, Mr. Alcock is right. Narcotics addicts are very properly in fear of arrest when they are fooling with narcotics, and it is absolutely beyond the belief of any reasonable man that Vernon Bundy, this man who has been taking junk since he was 13 year old, by his own testimony, that Vernon Bundy, who was living in a 25-room house, would leave the security and safety of his own home, the security and safety of his own bathroom where he could flush the toilet, flush the dope down the toilet if the police came, and where the police probably wouldn't come anyway, and carry this dope out to a public place out on the seawall at the Lakefront to shoot dope.
Gentlemen, that is absolutely fantastic, it is absolutely beyond belief! And then what else does this witness say? If you will recall -- let me back up just a little bit. The State is probably going to get up here and answer that last statement of mine by saying that Bundy didn't want his family to find out that he was fooling with narcotics, or that his mother knew it already and it aggravated his mother, therefore he didn't want to. Gentlemen, I just ask you to ask yourselves, would Bundy have rather been caught by his mother or would he rather have had a police officer walk up on him and arrest him? It is not even close.
Now let's get on to the other completely unbelievable point in Bundy's testimony. Bundy, if you will recall, under cross-examination by me admitted that there was at least a mile of vacant seawall in each direction from where he was shooting this dope. Now, with two miles of vacant seawall there, gentlemen, Bundy tells you that this Defendant picked the very spot where he, Bundy, is sitting to meet with Lee Harvey Oswald to turn over money to Oswald. The implication is that at that time they were probably planning to kill the President. Gentlemen, what is the matter with some spot in one direction or the other? That doesn't make sense. Now, gentlemen, getting on a little further with this fellow, Bundy, and again calling your attention to Mr. Alcock's correct statement of the law that if anybody testifies falsely, and so forth, let me remind you that this man is a convicted thief, and that he lied on that witness stand and got caught in his own lie.
If you will recall, I asked him on cross-examination where he got his money for this narcotic habit, and he had the temerity to sit on that stand and tell you that he got it from his job as a presser and some little money from his grandmother. Bundy, unfortunately for him, gentlemen, had forgotten about his testimony on the preliminary hearing. I asked him whether he stole to satisfy this habit when he testified here. Oh, no, he didn't. He'd forgot that on the preliminary hearing he had admitted to me under cross-examination that he stole regularly to satisfy this habit. I confronted him with his testimony, and he said, "Oh, yes, if somebody left something there I would pick it up." That is not stealing.
Gentlemen, this is another one, another one in the parade of unfit witnesses that the State has trotted out before you and on the basis of whose testimony they are asking you to return a verdict of conviction. You can just stand them in line. Spiesel was there first, and Bundy can now take his place right alongside of him, but for a different reason.
Now, gentlemen, I won't go at length into the Spiesel testimony. Frankly, I wouldn't insult your intelligence by doing so. Suffice it to say that we can add just one more little impossibility to this story, and that is, here we have Spiesel in a roup of complete strangers, people who have never seen him before, and they are going to plan to kill the President right in front of him. That makes a great deal of sense, too.
We come now, gentlemen, to the mailman incident, the testimony of Hardiman. Very frankly, gentlemen, I don't quite understand this old gentleman's testimony. I will be perfectly frank with you. I cannot in sincerity stand here and tell you I think he was lying. I think the old man thought he was telling the truth. But I can also with equal sincerity tell you that he was 100 percent dead flat wrong. I think that the key to his error can be found in the completely fictitious name which I gave to him. On cross-examination in trying to find out just whether the knew what he was talking about, I said, "Mr. Hardiman, do you remember having delivered any mail to Cliff Boudreaux at that address?"
He said, "Yes, I do."
I said, "Well, have you delivered any mail to Cliff Boudreaux within the last six months?"
He said, "Yes, I have."
Well, gentlemen, as you learned when Mr. Jeff Biddision took the witness stand, there just wasn't any such person as Cliff Boudreaux, and I can tell you right now that Clif Boudreaux came from right here (tapping forehead) just like Clay Bertrand came from Dean Andrews's head.
From that we see that had there been a person named Clif Boudreaux, had there been a person whose alias was Clif Boudreaux, had he been in the same spot that Clay Shaw finds himself right now, Mr. Hardiman would have been willing to testify that he had received mail in the name of Clif Boudreaux at that address, which is identically the same thing.
I tell you again in all sincerity, I don't think the old man was lying when he told me that he had delivered mail to Clif Boudreaux; I think he thought he was telling the truth, but God knows it is obvious that he wasn't.
Now, we don't have to rely entirely upon this trick of cross-examination which I used to rebut the testimony of Mr. Hardiman. We presented to you a witness of the highest caliber, a top-flight witness, in Mr. Jeff Biddison. Jeff Biddison has been a friend of Clay Shaw's for many years. As a matter of fact, I think Mr. Alcock tried to belittle his testimony by commenting upon that. I will ask you right now in passing, gentlemen, don't some of you men have friends of twenty years' standing? I am sure you do. But does that mean that you would get on that witness stand and raise your hand to God and tell a lie for him if he were charged in a criminal case? I don't think so. I wouldn't.
Now, what does Jeff Biddison tell you? Jeff Biddison told you that he received all of the mail that came for Clay Shaw, that he picked up all of the mail at his own home there, and that there was no Clem Bertrand mail, gentlemen. Now, who is in a better position to know -- Mr. Biddison, who lived there, or Mr. Hardiman, who had perhaps 700 or 800 houses on his route three years ago? I might also mention in that connection, gentlemen, that if there were anything at all to the State's case, if Clay Shaw had conspired under the name Clay or Clem Bertrand, to murder President Kennedy, by any stretch of the imagination can you think that by 1966 he wouldn't have quit using that name? Remember, by that time the Warren Report had come out, the name "Bertrand" had been made an issue, Dean Andrews had testified before the Warren Commission, people knew of Clem Bertrand and Clay Bertrand. Does it make sense that this man would still be going around by the name of Clem Bertrand if he had done that? Gentlemen, if he would, I think the State is wrong in trying to send him to Angola, they ought to send him to Jackson.
Gentlemen, next we come to Facet Number Five of the State's case. That is the trip to the West Coast by Clay Shaw. The State would have you believe that this was planned far in advance, that Mr. Shaw was going to go out to the West Coast so as to have an alibi. You were shown the correspondence that was introduced into evidence, you were told when the arrangements for this speaking trip were made, you were shown the pamphlet of the actual meeting at which he was to speak. The State got real sinister on this deal in their opening statement, and they told you that they were going to show that the same travel agency that arranged this trip arranged for Lee Oswald to go to Russia. That was the last I heard of it, gentlemen. I don't know what happened to that evidence. But, frankly, I don't know of what significance it would have been anyway.
Now, the absolutely ridiculous part about this contention that this perfectly legitimate speaking trip was actually, as the State would claim, an overt act in a conspiracy, is this: If you are here in New Orleans, why are you going to go out to the West Coast to get an alibi for a crime that is being committed in Dallas? Once again, gentlemen, it doesn't add up. No earthly reason.
Now we come to the VIP Room out in the Eastern Air Lines' section of the Moisant Airport. Gentlemen, before we get to talking about handwriting experts on this, let's first touch lightly upon what the State contends happened here. First of all, the time, December 14, 1966. President Kennedy murdered, the name Clay Bertrand made public by the Warren Commission, played up in the New Orleans newspapers because of Dean Andrews. Clay Shaw goes out to the airport with somebody else, goes into the VIP Room for no purpose other than to sign his name "Clay Bertrand" in the VIP book. Once again, gentlemen, that would be the act of a complete lunatic, if you are to believe the State's case. On top of that, what does Jessie Parker do but refuse or fail to identify Claw Shaw when she is brought out here and he is pointed out to her in the courtroom.
Then, gentlemen, we come to the question of handwriting experts. Let me say before we get off on this one that it has to be obvious to you by now the amount of money that the State has spent on this case. The things that you have been shown here don't come cheap. You don't get the slides and exhibits and the expert testimony that has been presented here for peanuts, ladies and gentlemen. That being the case, and with the obvious availability of funds, can anybody make any man on this Jury believe that the State hadn't tried to confirm Jessie Parker's statement by an expert in the field of handwriting before they called that woman yesterday?
Gentlemen, I don't know what it would take to make me believe that, but it would have to be [text missing]. The answer is they had to have tried other experts and could not get one to say what they wanted him to say -- that's the reason they finally found a last-minute killing.
[Text missing -- Charles Appel] . . . is one of the foremost handwriting experts in our country. Gentlemen, he served for many years with the Federal Bureau of Investigation as head of their department of handwriting analysis. Now, I knew when we brought him down here that we were going to step into a buzzsaw as soon as he said Federal Bureau of Investigation, because, as you know, the State is going to try to make you believe that we have bunch of boogiemen, a bunch of real culprits (in) the FBI, the Secret Service, every governmental agency that you can name. Be that as it may, Gentlemen, this man hasn't been with the FBI since 1948. The State tries to tell you that he had a fixed opinion before he came down here. He didn't say that. You heard what he said from the witness stand. He said that he volunteered to come down here without charge when he found out that we didn't have the money to pay for an expert. And why was he willing to do it? He was willing to do it in the interest of justice, gentlemen. Now, can you doubt his qualifications? Could he have held the jobs that he has held, been with the FBI as long as he was, unqualified? No. Can you doubt his truthfulness and sincerity, doubt the truthfulness and sincerity of a man who leaves down here for nothing, out of a sense and spirit of justice? I submit to you, gentlemen, that this man gave you a good analysis of that handwriting, he gave you a firm opinion that that was not Clay Shaw's writing. The lady wouldn't go that far, she said that there is a great probability that it is, after her makeshift examination. I leave that one with you, gentlemen, and I don't have any doubt as to what you will think of the VIP book.
Gentlemen, I think that this is an appropriate place to mention Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Tadin, the two witnesses who took the stand yesterday evening as a team and stated to you that they had seen Clay Shaw out at the Lakefront Airport in the company of David Ferrie. Well, now, I have several comments to make on this, gentlemen. First of all, you would be justified in asking me whether I think these two people are lying or whether I think they are mistaken. I don't know. I think they are probably mistaken. I don't know why they should lie, if they are lying, but I will say this, that whatever the husband is doing, the wife is doing the same thing. That poor woman was scared to death when she got on that witness stand. She said, "I came here because my husband told me to." And, frankly, I don't blame her. If a girl had a husband who walks around, talks about hitting people in the jaw with two-by-fours, I can well understand her fear. But let's just analyze now the testimony of these two people.
First of all, how do they say that they saw Mr. Shaw in Ferrie's company? They see Ferrie walk out of the hangar and three feet behind him comes Clay Shaw. They ask Ferrie was this a new student that you have a Shaw is walking over. Ferrie said no, that is my friend, Clay Shaw. Gentlemen, remember that all the recognition was on the part of David Ferrie there. Whether he, knowing Mr. Shaw to be a prominent man, was trying to impress his student's family, I don't know, but I will have a lot more to say on this.
First of all, you must realize, it has to be clear to you, that this case would have been much, much safer to defend by saying that Clay Shaw knew David Ferrie. Mr. Shaw has had us as his lawyers -- and I pride ourselves on not being stupid. don't you know that we realized when I got up here before you and told you that Clay Shaw had never laid eyes on these people, that we realized that there was always a possibility of someone coming forth like this and claiming to have seen them together? There is no doubt about that, but our defense, gentlemen, has been based on truth, it has been based on truth from scratch. And Shaw did not get up there on the stand and I did not get up before you and tell you that he knew David Ferrie, because he did not know him. The point that I am making is that if he did know him, our defense wouldn't have been any different in this case. It would have been a lot safer, yes, but what you must remember is this, that for you to even consider the testimony of these two Tadin people, what do you have to do? You have to accept the testimony of Perry Raymond Russo. And, gentlemen, if you can accept that, it is beyond me. If you don't accept that, what difference does the Tadins' testimony make? None at all.
Once again, gentlemen, I would point out that we are talking about -- the Tadins -- 1964, which is less than a year after the assassination. Do you think for one moment that if Mr. Clay Shaw had conspired with Ferrie and Oswald to murder the President, that he would have been seen out at a public airport with one of the co-conspirators after the meeting? No way. Do you think for one moment -- and I ask you this assuming that some of you gentlemen know something about this Lakefront Airport -- that had Mr. Shaw been out there with Ferrie at a crowded airport like this airport is, that other people wouldn't have seen him and come forth? I think it is inconceivable to think that they wouldn't have.
Now, before I leave the testimony of the Tadins, gentlemen, let me remind you again that these people came forth -- when? -- yesterday morning. Why did they come forth not until yesterday morning? Because they didn't want to get involved. I cannot buy their testimony, gentlemen.
We get now to the last of the seven facets of the State's case, that is, the meeting that Perry Russo tells about at 3330 Louisiana Avenue Parkway. That is Dave Ferrie's apartment. Now let's analyze Russo and let's trace his happenings (sic) in connection with this matter. Russo is living up in Baton Rouge. Jim Garrison starts his investigation down here. It is published in the papers. Russo finds out that Ferrie has died, and he wants to get in on the act, so what does he do? Does he call the District Attorney? Does he call anybody? Yes, he calls somebody. He tells you that he called the police and they wouldn't even listen to him, but then who does he end up calling? The Baton Rouge State Times, the newspaper. Mr. Jim Kemp of the Baton Rouge State Times came out and interviewed him. Russo told Phelan later that he wanted to get the whole story down with somebody. So Russo gives his story to Jim Kemp. Now, gentlemen, we have read to you verbatim the Jim Kemp interview with Russo in Baton Rouge. Not one single word about Clay Shaw, Clay Bertrand, Clem Bertrand, a conspiracy meeting, any meeting at David Ferrie's. Why? He wanted to get it all down. So what does Russo do then but grant interviews to other TV stations and radio people in Baton Rouge. Nothing in any of those interviews, but they did run something on the air that interested Mr. Sciambra or Mr. Garrison, and Sciambra goes up to Baton Rouge to interview Perry Raymond Russo. Gentlemen, I hate to beat a dead dog, but here comes the Sciambra memorandum that we have heard so much about.
THE BAILIFF: Order, please.
MR. DYMOND: You know, when I was sitting here listening to the arguments of the other counsel, I leaned over to Billy Wegmann and I said, "Billy, my God, I have thought of something. We have got to be stupid. Why didn't we think of it before?" He said, "What is that?" I said, "Sciambra claims that Russo told him about the conspiratorial meeting and identified a picture of Clay Shaw in Baton Rouge on the 25th of February, and Clay Shaw wasn't arrested until March 1." He said, "Good God, you are right."
Where were they, gentlemen? Does that answer the question as to when Perry Russo first mentioned anything about this? IF it doesn't, the DA's office sure dragged its feet, gentlemen, from the 25th of February until March 1 arresting a man that they claim assassinated or conspired to assassinate the President of our United States. So Mr. Sciambra goes up there and sits for some two and a half or three hours with Perry Raymond Russo, and Russo tells him his story. Mr. Sciambra writes up a memorandum to Mr. Garrison reporting on the interview with Russo. 'Lo and behold, gentlemen, we find out that there is nothing in the memorandum. All kinds of explanations are set forth as to why it isn't in there. Mr. Sciambra went up there in connection with the investigation of the assassination, went up there with, supposedly, pictures of Shaw on him. Russo supposedly identified one of these pictures of Shaw as Clem Bertrand, supposedly identified the roommate as Leon Oswald or Lee Harvey Oswald, and there is nothing written about it, but he writes about a lot of other things in there. Gentlemen, I will tell you, this is like a man going lion hunting and killing a lion and a rabbit, coming back and writing a story about the trip and forgetting to mention the lion. That is what it amounts to.
Gentlemen, I hesitate to bore you with a reading of this entire Sciambra memorandum, so rather than do that, rather than eat up your time in this way, I am going to ask you if there is any man on the Jury who has any doubt as to whether anything about a conspiratorial meeting, anything about Clay Shaw, Clem Bertrand, Clay Bertrand, is in this memorandum. If you have any doubts, I will read it to you word for word. Apparently you don't. Gentlemen, Mr. Jim Phelan, one of the top columnists in the country, labeled by Mr. Sciambra a "journalistic prostitute," apparently used nobody in the good graces of Jim Garrison, so Mr. Sciambra writes this memorandum up. He tells you that he -- the memorandum is dictated the 27th, and Mr. Sciambra tells you that he did not -- no, it is dated February 27 -- Mr. Sciambra tells you that he did not even finish dictating this memorandum until seven to ten days after the 27th, and says about another memorandum, it was supposedly dictated ahead of it.
Gentlemen, in that connection, I would like to call your attention to the testimony of Jim Phelan -- not only to his testimony but to what he pulled out of his pocket, a hotel bill, a receipt from The Sands in Las Vegas, showing where he stayed there from the 4th until the 6th of March. Jim Phelan testified that he went out to Las Vegas, met Jim Garrison out there, and Jim Garrison turned over to him the Sciambra memorandum, and that this meeting took place on the 6th of March. Count your days, gentlemen, between the 27th of February and the 6th of March when this memorandum not only had been finished being dictated but had been delivered to Jim Garrison, and Jim Garrison had gone out to Las Vegas, Nevada, obviously having had time to read it over, and then gave it to Phelan. Does that add up with the testimony that this memorandum wasn't even completely dictated until seven to ten days after February 27? My arithmetic is bad if it does, gentlemen. I know it is not the best, but I don't believe it is that bad.
Well, Jim Phelan went over this memorandum very carefully. He said that he read it six times, was completely shocked by it, so he went out to see Jim Garrison about it. Jim Garrison called Sciambra in. Phelan says, "There is nothing in this memorandum about any conspiratorial meeting, nothing about Clay Shaw, nothing about Clem Bertrand." Sciambra said, "You don't know what you are talking about." Gentlemen, Phelan did know what he was talking about to the extent that he was willing to be his job on it. He wasn't taken up on it. Well, this was called to the attention of the State, and since then there have been quite a few controversies about the actual content of this Sciambra memorandum.
Now, after this confrontation there in Mr. Garrison's home after reading the memorandum, Jim Phelan attended the preliminary hearing in this case. He saw Perry Russo take the witness stand and was completely shocked at Russo's testimony, so he arranged to go up to Baton Rouge and talk to Russo about it. He goes and talks to Russo, and there are two completely different stories there, gentlemen. All that I can ask you to do in evaluating those is to decide who has more reason for lying, Russo trying to back his story up, or Jim Phelan, an independent journalist, free lance, with no axe to grind. Two key questions were asked at that time. Phelan asked Russo why he had gone to court in that preliminary hearing and testified that he had seen Clay Shaw in David Ferrie's apartment, an then named two other times, one at the Nashville Avenue wharf and the other one at Ferrie's filling station, whereas in the memorandum Sciambra had reported his only having seen Clay Shaw twice. Russo meditated, and he said, "I said three times?" He said, "No, I guess I only say twice, but I should have said three times." Then Phelan asked him the real sixty-four-dollar question: When did you first mention anything about the conspiracy? And Russo said, "Down in New Orleans," admitting it to Phelan.
Now, gentlemen, getting back to this two or three times that he claims that he saw Clay Shaw, if this Sciambra memorandum were to have just had in there that it was seeing him twice, that could easily be an error, but the Sciambra memorandum says that he saw him twice, the first time at the Nashville Avenue wharf and the second time up on the Veterans Highway at the filling station. The third time actually, gentlemen, would be tucked in between there and would certainly have been the one time that Russo would not have forgotten if he were relating a true story. Once again, we are striking at the very heart of the State's case now, gentlemen, the absolute lack of credibility on the part of Perry Russo.
Well, gentlemen, after this, Jim Phelan had quite a number of conversations with Russo during which Russo made some admissions to him which completely destroyed the State's case. Mr. Alcock has admitted that the case depends entirely upon Russo's testimony, so let's see what he admitted to Phelan. First of all, he admits to Phelan that he does not know whether Shaw was at the party or not; he admits to Phelan that he does not know the difference between reality and fantasy; he affirmatively requests of Phelan that Phelan set up a meeting with Clay Shaw so that he, Russo, can decide whether Clay Shaw is the right man. Gentlemen, this is after he has already testified in court in the preliminary hearing that Clay Shaw was positively the right man.
And what else does he tell Mr. Phelan? "If Garrison could hear what I told my priest up in Baton Rouge, he would go through the ceiling. I told that priest that I want to get in a room with Shaw and hear him talk and breathe so I can decide whether he is the right man." Again, gentlemen, I say that these statements just kick the very foundation out from under any case that the State might think that it has.
Now getting back to the meeting that Russo wanted arranged between him and Mr. Shaw, was there any hesitancy on the part of this Defendant in agreeing to that meeting, in making arrangements for it? None at all. Who pulls out on the meeting but Perry Raymond Russo! He tells Phelan that the reason he pulled out on the meeting is that he is afraid that news of it would leak back to Garrison. But later on he comes clean and tells Mr. Phelan, "I lied to you about that. The reason is that I know if I got in a room and talked to that man, I would find out that he wasn't the man, and I could run to Mexico, I could run to California and become a beatnik, but I could not run away from myself."
Now, gentlemen, I can hear the State right now getting up here and screaming to you that Jim Phelan was an employee of the National Broadcasting Company, part of the Eastern Establishment, that horribly sinister outfit, just wanting to destroy his case, and that that is why Jim Phelan said that Russo said those things to him. Well, let me tell you right now, I am the first to admit that when Mr. Phelan first came down here, he came down as a writer for the Saturday Evening Post. NBC hired him because they thought that Russo would talk to him, and they were investigating for a white paper program they were presenting. Now, gentlemen, the State will try to destroy Mr. Phelan's testimony in that way. Thank goodness we have it back-stopped. We have it back-stopped by someone whom they have no way of destroying, and that is one who, as I said before, is traditionally one of their own prosecution team, and that is Lieutenant Ed O'Donnell, the same Lieutenant Ed O'Donnell who testified as a policeman for the State in innumerable cases, whom they put on the stand and asked juries to believe in those cases where they want the juries to believe them. What does Officer O'Donnell say? What does he do but come here as a witness and testify that these -- practically these same admissions except a little worse were made to him by Perry Raymond Russo.
Perry Raymond Russo to Officer O'Donnell said, "Do you really want to know the truth?" O'Donnell said yes. Russo said, "I don't know whether Shaw was there or not." He said, "If I really had to give a yes or no, I would have to say no."
Gentlemen, that is Perry Raymond Russo, that is the man who takes this witness stand and says one thing, goes elsewhere and says another thing, takes the witness stand in another courtroom and says something else, a man whose veracity, whose credibility, has been shattered beyond repair, beyond question, and that is the man whom Mr. Alcock says is the backbone of the State's case, their case sinks or swims, stands or falls on the testimony of Perry Raymond Russo.
Oh, there was another very interesting thing Russo admitted to Officer O'Donnell. He told Officer O'Donnell that when he first went into the preliminary hearing he was going to testify that he wasn't sure that Mr. Shaw was there at this meeting, "but Dymond turned on me," he said, "Dymond struck at the jugular vein when he asked me whether I believed in God." Gentlemen, could I make any of you mad by asking you whether you believed in God? Would it make you mad enough to get up on the witness stand and under oath and try to send a man to the penitentiary? I don't think so. I don't think any normal individual would react in that way, and I submit to you that Perry Raymond Russo is not a normal individual.
Perry Raymond Russo came down here from Baton Rouge wanting a little publicity. He gets down here and he is hypnotized three or four times, given Sodium Pentathol. Somehow or another they get a story out of him, and he has tried to stick to it and hasn't even done a good job at that.
Gentlemen, I hate to keep you here this long, but I feel it is necessary to cover this material with you. We have been here a long time already, and I just cannot see the advisability of halfway doing the case at this point. Let's now find out just where the whole thing originated.
You learned from the witness stand the other day it all came from the mind of Dean Andrews. Now, gentlemen, if you have ever heard any vitriolic screaming, any debasement of a witness, any criticism of an individual, you are going to hear it from the State when they get up here in rebuttal on Dean Andrews, but let me say this, this little man with the peculiar manner of talking got on that witness stand, a ruined lawyer, bared his chest, said, "Do to me what you may, I am going to tell the truth now," and I don't think there is a man on this Jury who does not think that he told the truth.
This man has lied before, there is no doubt about that, no question in the world, but, believe me, when he took that witness stand and did what he did, he rose, in spite of his faults, to heights that may not be attained by many people in this courtroom. He subjected himself to what he thinks is coming -- I hope it doesn't come -- I hope that there is some compassion in the hearts of people who could get revenge upon him for what he did. That man took the witness stand and shamelessly belittled himself. To me, gentlemen, it was pitiful. This man got up there and said, "I made a damned fool out of myself and I am stuck with it. I wanted to be famous for something other than being a perjurer, so I dreamed up this story about having been asked to represent Lee Harvey Oswald. This fellow Davis called me about something, a car title, and I just dreamed up the rest of it. When the FBI came and asked me about it, I found a cover-up name for him, Clay Bertrand."
There you are, gentlemen. This man had never seen Clay Shaw before in his life. Gentlemen, from then the ball started rolling. After Dean Andrews came out with the Clay Bertrand story, we had the Warren Commission Report. Along with the Warren Commission Report came the scavengers, came those who would like to make a living off of it, came those who would like to pick it to pieces, even though at the cost of undermining the confidence of the American people in their very Government. And that, gentlemen, is when the fur began to fly. Andrews had started it. Russo wanted to get into the news with the aid of a little hypnosis, a little Sodium Pentathol, and what other prompting we don't know. He came forth with the story that you heard here in the courtroom.
Gentlemen, when this accusation was made, when Perry Raymond Russo's story was finally made up from the whole cloth, the news reached to the four corners of the earth. It was shocking news. Mr. Garrison announced he had solved the assassination of President Kennedy.
MR. ALCOCK: Your Honor, again this is outside the record of this case.
THE COURT: I think you are right about that.
MR. DYMOND: The newspaper reporters gathered from every corner of the globe. I dare say it has been one of the most highly publicized cases in Louisiana legal annals, or possibly in the annal of any state. And, gentlemen, I tell you now that the entire world is waiting to find out whether you twelve men can convict a man on this Alice-in-Wonderland situation, on a group of facts that were scrambled together.
If you check back and just remember when each one of these witnesses showed up at the DA's office, you have to wonder just what did they have when they arrested Clay Shaw. Practically nothing, nothing except Russo.
They are waiting, gentlemen, to see whether a man can be convicted in a situation such as this, in a production such as this where a patsy was picked in order to provide a forum for an attack on the Warren Commission and the Warren Report. You have seen the extent to which the State has gone in attacking the Warren Report here. Gentlemen, for a while Clay Shaw had become the forgotten man in this case. I mean you actually had to stop and remember who was on trial for days here, and I just hope that you will not permit the issue to be confused by this big production that has been put on. "RUSH TO JUDGMENT" would have been a lot easier and a lot cheaper, but don't let it confuse you, gentlemen. Just remember what this man is charged with. Remember that the State by its own admission says that its case has to fall or stand on the testimony of this liar, Perry Raymond Russo, a man who is an admitted liar from the witness stand. Separate these two issues, and there is no way that you can go wrong, gentlemen.
If our law permitted it, I think in doing that you wouldn't have to leave this box to return a verdict of not guilty. The State is going to come back before you and wave the Dallas flag again, gentlemen. They are going to talk about the Zapruder film. That is a horrifying film. That is the reason I squawked about your seeing it ten times. I had never seen it before, and I was shocked and horrified by it. But don't let that prejudice you, gentlemen, don't let it cause you to lose sight of the basic issues in this case.
You have taken an oath, gentlemen, that you will try this case according to the law and within the bounds of the evidence that has been here in court. If you do that, we have no worries at all, because there is no way that Clay Shaw can be convicted under these circumstances. As I say, they are going to come back with Dallas, they are going to talk about Lee Harvey Oswald getting the job in the Depository. In that connection, I might call your attention to the fact that by Ruth Paine's testimony, she got the job for him. By the testimony of a State witness, he could have been assigned either to that Depository building or one that wasn't on Elm Street. So, gentlemen, don't let the horror of this awful deed that was committed in Dallas cause you to convict an innocent man just to try to balance the scales. Just remember that it would not be at all beyond the realm of possibility for you or me to be sitting right in that chair called upon to prove where you were in 1963, called upon to prove that you didn't know somebody. That is not easy, gentlemen, not when you have liars like Perry Raymond Russo testifying, not when a dope fiend gets up there, a person that everybody knows is always trying to curry favor with law enforcement agencies in case he happens to get caught. He is willing to get up there and testify against you to help himself.
Gentlemen, just remember -- I won't keep you much longer -- that the Indictment in this case charges Clay Shaw with having agreed up there on Louisiana Avenue to kill President Kennedy; that the only testimony on that is Perry Raymond Russo's, a liar; that the State has alleged its overt acts, many of them taking place at that meeting, which depends on Perry Raymond Russo, one of them being Mr. Shaw's trip to the West Coast, going to the West Coast to get an alibi for something that happened in Texas, the other one being David Ferrie's trip to Houston the day after the assassination, which wouldn't have done him any good anyway. And I submit to you, gentlemen, that the State's case is a total flop.
Now, gentlemen, I will say in closing that the duty of every jury is an immense duty. I mean when you are called upon to pass judgment on another human being, called upon to decide whether or not that man remains a free independent man or whether he becomes a convict, you are almost asked to be God, but I will say that in this case your duty is even graver, more so, more serious: the twelve men who pass on this case are actually going to create history in our country.
Gentlemen, I implore you not to make a mistake. This man is as innocent as any one of you fourteen men sitting here on this Jury. To find him guilty you have got to believe an admitted liar, and I don't think you can do that. I am confident you can't. I ask you to vote your conscience, follow the law, and don't make a mistake.
THE COURT: I am going to take a five-minute recess. Take the Jury upstairs for coffee. (Whereupon, a brief recess was taken.)