Closing arguments by James Alcock



. . . . Pursuant to the recess, the proceedings herein were resumed at 2:55 o'clock p.m., appearances being the same as heretofore noted in the record. . . .

THE COURT: I remember, Mr. Dymond, you said you had a motion out of the presence of the Jury. I would like to make one statement. During the recess, when we recessed from five after twelve until just a few moments ago -- what the judge includes in his charge and in his instructions to the Jury -- various facets of the case develop, so the judge does not know until the case is finally submitted what he shall include in his charge, and that is what I have been doing since five after twelve, I have dictated it and it is being typed up now. For the record, I asked Mr. Garrison just before we recessed, is that the State's case, and I understand Mr. Alcock stated that the State has no further rebuttal witnesses.

MR. ALCOCK: That is correct, Your Honor.

THE COURT: Mr. Dymond, do you wish to make a motion?

MR. DYMOND: If the Court please, at this time we would like to file our second motion for a directed verdict.

THE COURT: Very well. Let me see it.

MR. DYMOND: Rather than reiterate what I stated before in connection with our other motion, Your Honor, I would merely like to put forward --


MR. DYMOND: I would like to submit to Your Honor those same arguments, as I am sure you will remember, together with the fact that according to the unrefuted testimony of Dean Andrews, it has been shown that the name "Clay Bertrand" had a completely fictitious origin, consequently rendering the case itself a fictitious one. We will submit it on that.

THE COURT: Your motion for a directed verdict is denied.

MR. DYMOND: To which ruling Counsel reserves a bill of exception, making the motion for a directed verdict, the entire record and testimony together with the ruling of the Court parts of the bill.

THE COURT: Bring the Jury in.

(Jury returns to the box.)

THE COURT: Are the State and the Defense ready to proceed?

MR. ALCOCK: Yes, Your Honor.

MR. DYMOND: We are ready.

THE COURT: You may proceed.

MR. ALCOCK: May it please the Court and Gentlemen of the Jury: Gentlemen, let me being by thanking you on behalf of the State of Louisiana and the District Attorney's office, first of all for serving on this Jury. I realize that it has been a personal sacrifice and certainly a sacrifice on the part of your employers as well as on the part of your families, and we do appreciate it and I am sure the City of New Orleans appreciates it. Let me also thank you gentlemen at the outset for your kind attention. This has been a long tedious trial, oftentimes there have been some rather technical points gone into. There have been experts that have testified in this case, and I realize as a layman -- and I am a layman also -- that sometimes this testimony became a little tedious and sometimes a little difficult to understand and sometimes a little difficult to follow, but I certainly do appreciate the attention that you have given to these witnesses.

Gentlemen, this is what is known as the State's Opening Closing Argument. I will attempt during the course of this argument to try to piece together for you the various bits and pieces of evidence as it unfolded from the witness stand. We have here parts of a puzzle, if you will, and I am going to attempt in this argument to bring these pieces of the puzzle together and to give you a clear image of just what the case is about. Naturally, during this argument I am going to highlight those things which I think most favorable to the State of Louisiana and to the prosecution in this case. Mr. Dymond and whoever else might argue for the Defense, in their argument will highlight those that they figure most favorable to the Defendant.

Now, Mr. Dymond will have a rebuttal argument, the State will have its rebuttal argument. It may seem on the surface somewhat unfair that the State is given two arguments as opposed to one for the Defense attorney, but I submit to you that the State carries a heavy burden, and that is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, the Legislature of this State and most states throughout the United States accord to the prosecution two arguments. Therefore, you will hear from the State twice. And then after Mr. Dymond and Mr. Wegmann, if Mr. Wegmann should argue, you will hear again from the State of Louisiana.

Gentlemen, at the outset of this trial the State made what is known as an opening statement, and in that opening statement, which is not -- and I remind you again, is not -- evidence in this case, the State outlined in thumbnail fashion, schematic fashion, blueprint fashion, what it intended to prove during the course of the trial. The State was required by the law of Louisiana to make this opening statement; Defense Counsel was not required to make an opening statement. However, in this case, as is sometimes the situation, Defense Counsel chose to make an opening statement, and in his opening statement, gentlemen, he made certain promises to each and every one of you.

One promise that comes to my mind most readily and most clearly is this: that his client, Clay Shaw, not only did not conspire with David W. Ferrie or Lee Harvey Oswald, but did not know either David W. Ferrie or Lee Harvey Oswald, and further, gentlemen, never laid his eyes on either one or both of these men. Gentlemen, I submit to you that within four hours of the beginning of this trial that promise was broken. That promise, gentlemen, lay shattered, broken, and forever irretrievable in the dust of Clinton, Louisiana. With that promise being broken, gentlemen, the Defendant before the Bar, that man right there (indicating), was a proven liar unworthy of your belief, and the Judge will charge you that if any witness, either for the State or for the Defense, lies on any material issue, you may disregard his entire testimony. And there can be no more material issue in this case than whether or not the Defendant, who is charged with having conspired with two men, did in fact know those two men and was in fact in association with those two men. So I submit to you gentlemen, within four hours the promise was broken and the Defendant was proven a liar.

Now, gentlemen, the State opened its case in Clinton, Louisiana. We heard from some six or seven witnesses from Clinton, Louisiana. These people are not involved in this case directly. These people, gentlemen, had nothing to gain by coming to the City of New Orleans and testifying, perhaps an environment strange to them. I doubt if any of them had ever testified in any criminal prosecution before, and certainly not in a criminal prosecution of this significance or notoriety, not in a criminal prosecurtion in a courtroom filled with reporters from all over the world. Gentlemen, by this testimony from these people who had nothing to gain, the State proved certain important and crucial elements of its case. The first man to take the stand was Mr. [Edwin] Lea McGehee, the barbert from Jackson, Louisiana. He testified that Lee Harvey Oswald entered his barbershop and received a haircut from him in late August or early September, 1963. Now, there was nothing great or significant about this gentleman except the fact that his testimony also adduced these facts: Lee Harvey Oswald was interested in gaining employment in the East Louisiana State Hospital at Jackson, Louisiana; Mr. McGehee directed Lee Harvey Oswald to Reeves Morgan, who was then the State Legislator for East Feliciana Parish. Lee Harvey Oswald arrived, gentlemen, or at least Mr. McGehee deduced he arrived in an old battered automobile and there was a young lady in the automobile. Now I want to at this time make it abundantly clear that the State does not claim that it identified that woman at all. The State is certainly not coming before this Jury and saying that it was Marina Oswald, now Marina Oswald Porter, that drove him. I wish we could have identified her, I wish we could have brought her into the courtroom and presented her to you. But nevertheless he did appear on that occasion. And Mr. McGehee did something else, he mentioned the name of Henry Earl Palmer, and not the necessity but the fact that it would serve Oswald well if he should register to vote in the area, since he was sending him to the State Legislator, and he mentioned Clinton, Louisiana.

Now, after this, gentlemen, and I submit as a direct result of this, Lee Harvey Oswald went to the home of Reeves Morgan, again in the City of Jackson, Louisiana, or, as he put it, somewhere close by the city or on the outskirts of the city. He went into Mr. Morgan's home and at first introduced himself as Oswald. You recall Mr. Reeves Morgan saying that he mentioned the name of Oswald Chance, an acquaintance of his, asking Lee Harvey Oswald if perhaps he was related to Oswald Chance because of the similarity of the name Oswald. He also mentioned the possibility of Lee Harvey Oswald registering to vote, and the place to register to vote, gentlemen, was Clinton, Louisiana. On the way out of the door, he had more than just the name Oswald, because Lee Oswald told him his name was Lee Oswald and he was from New Orleans, Louisiana.

After the assassination when Mr. Morgan saw Lee Harvey Oswald on television, he had a conversation with Mr. McGehee. Mr. McGehee confirmed the fact that the man he sent to his home was the same man he, Mr. McGehee, had seen on television -- Lee Harvey Oswald. Mr. Morgan went one step further. Mr. Morgan went one step further. Mr. Morgan called the Federal Bureau of Investigation and told them of the presence of Lee Harvey Oswald and got the response, "We know he was in the area."

Gentlemen, I submit with just these two witnesses the State has proven beyond any doubt that Lee Harvey Oswald was in fact in the Jackson-Clinton area in late August, early September, 1963. Now, gentlemen, there was at that time in the City of Clinton certainly an unfortunate confrontation. The situation was not normal. People unfortunately were suspicious of their neighbors and even more suspicious of any strangers that might have been in the town of Clinton in late August or early September, 1963. There was a voter registration drive going on. The lines had been drawn, CORE workers on one side, perhaps the Registrar on the other side, some people attempting to get people to register to vote, others perhaps on occasion attempting to prevent these people from voting. Gentlemen, we are not talking about a normal time in a small country town in the State of Louisiana, we are talking about a critical time, a time of tension, a time where everyone of necessity, everyone by nature becomes much much more observant of the things around him than he or she might be on other occasions. One day, gentlemen, in that time period a black Cadillac pulled up just close to the Registrar's office in the City of Clinton. There were many people present. One of the persons present, gentlemen, was Mr. John Manchester, Town Marshal of Clinton, Louisiana. Now certainly, gentlemen, if there was anyone who was keenly aware of the explosive or possibly explosive situation at the time, it was Mr. Manchester. And unfortunately sometimes these confrontations do explode, sometimes from persons not native to the area but from outside agitators for either side coming in and taking advantage of a tense situation and exploding it. So he was keenly aware, as the only local law enforcement agent in Clinton, Louisiana, at the time. He by his nature and certainly by his duty during that time was observant of any and all strangers that came into town. By his nature and duty he was equally observant of all strange automobiles that came into town. On this morning, gentlemen -- perhaps it was toward noon, I don't recall the specific time but certainly let me say at this time it is your memory of the facts that is important, it is not my appreciation of the facts or Mr. Dymond's appreciation of the facts, it is your appreciation of the facts -- he went up to this black Cadillac car for a specific reason. He wanted to get a 1028 on it as they call it, he wanted to get some form of identification. Where were they from? Were they possible troublemakers? Could they in any way inflame an already tense situation? He was keenly aware of this, gentlemen, and he went to this car and inquired of the man behind the wheel where he was from. "We are from the International Trade Mart in the City of New Orleans." Now I wonder how many people in the City of Clinton, Louisiana, up until that point had ever heard of the International Trade Mart in the City of New Orleans. Mr. Manchester said that this was the first time he had ever heard of it. But he went further, gentlemen, and he positively and unequivocally and under oath identified that man there (indicating) as the driver of that automobile, the man who said he was from the International Trade Mart in the City of New Orleans.

Have you ever, gentlemen, thought of the probabilities of approaching a man in a strange town and having him say he is from the International Trade Mart in the City of New Orleans unless he is or unless he is in some way connected with the International Trade Mart? And we all know that in the summer of 1963 he was connected with the International Trade Mart in the City of New Orleans. John Manchester positively identified the man, the Defendant before the Bar, as the man in the car. And again, gentlemen, the State -- and I want to make this abundantly clear at this time -- the State is not wedded to the proposition, the State is not bound by the proposition, and the State is not asking you definitely to believe that that black Cadillac on that day belonged to Jeff Biddison, a long-time friend of the Defendant, but it certainly is a curious coincidence that the Defendant knows Jeff Biddison, has used Jeff Biddison's car, and it was a black Cadillac, 1960 or '61, and, as the witnesses said, a brand new or apparently new automobile, shiny automobile. But the State is not saying necessarily that that was Jeff Biddison's automobile, because the State -- unfortunately no one on that occasion got the license number of that car so we could check it down and tell you positively and stand behind it as to the owner of that automobile.

Henry Earl Palmer testified, gentlemen -- and this is the man that Oswald was referred to by the barber, Mr. McGehee -- he testified that he arrived at his office and it was his duty to register those attempting to register during this drive. Most of the registrants in line were Negroes. However, there were two white men, or white boys as he called them, in that line. One of these white boys in that line was Lee Harvey Oswald. Mr. Palmer told you of going back and forth getting coffee, told you of seeing these two men in that line, one of whom he positively identified as Lee Harvey Oswald. Mr. Palmer also told you that he told some law enforcement officer to get a 1028 or an identification on the black Cadillac.

And Manchester told you that when he assured Palmer that the people in the black Cadillac, the two men in the black Cadillac, were not troublemakers, they were from the International Trade Mart, he made a little joke up to the effect that, "They are no trouble, Henry Earl, they must be here to sell bananas." And this was testified to by Henry Earl Palmer, who also saw that black Cadillac, who also said that the Defendant before the Bar fit the general physical characteristics of the man behind the wheel of that Cadillac, the man who John Manchester positively identified under oath on that stand, and he also said, gentlemen, that the other man in the automobile had bushy eyebrows and when Mr. Sciambra showed him a picture of David Ferrie, he said he looked similar. I am not trying to fool this Jury at all. He did not positively identify David Ferrie, nor did he positively identify the Defendant, but he said the man had the same general characteristics of the Defendant.

You recall that when Mr. Palmer first came the black automobile was not there. You recall though that throughout the day as he made his trips the automobile was there the entire time until he left his office at 5:45 p.m. You will recall further that when he left his office Oswald had already been to him, Oswald had firmly identified himself as Lee Harvey Oswald attempting to register to vote. And here is further corroboration of both Lee McGehee and Mr. Morgan, because Oswald was curious about the necessity of registering to vote to get the job at the East Louisiana State Hospital, and he was assured that that was not necessary. He was turned down on his voting registration because he could not show sufficient residence in the Parish of East Feliciana. Gentlemen, there again can be no doubt at all that Lee Harvey Oswald was in the barbershop, in Reeves Morgan's house, and he was in that voter registration line and he attempted to vote in Clinton, Louisiana, in late August or early September.

Now, gentlemen, that was essentially what you heard, and again from one side of the confrontation. The lines had been drawn. But there were also CORE workers who were attempting to have their people register, and I submit to you that they were just as conscious, maybe more so conscious than John Manchester as to strangers in town, as to strange automobiles in the town, because they also were aware of the fact of a possible conflagration, a possible explosion of a tense situation.

Corrie Collins took the stand in this court room under oath and positively told this Jury some very important things, and I submit he had no reason to lie to this Jury. He saw that black Cadillac pull up with three individuals in it, two in the front seat, one in the back seat, and Corrie Collins positively said the man in the back seat got out of that automobile, went in the voter registration line and stood in that line to vote, and that individual positively was Lee Harvey Oswald, the man named as a co-conspirator with the Defendant. But he said even more than that. He corroborates the fact that John Manchester was then in that area, he corroborates the fact that John Manchester went to the window of that automobile and spoke to the driver of the automobile, and this is exactly what Mr. Manchester said, and that is when the Defendant told him they were from the International Trade Mart. Corrie Collins went further. Corrie Collins was in a position to better see the individuals in the automobile, and under oath and in a strange court room and in a strange city he positively and unequivocally and without any hesitation whatsoever pointed out the Defendant before the Bar as the man who drove that automobile, and he identified a picture of David Ferrie as the man in that automobile. And he was conscious, gentlemen, of who was in the City of Clinton, what they were doing there, and what their reason was for being there. He made a statement, gentlemen, that I think we can all remember. There were, because of the voter registration drive, many Federal people apparently present, FBI, perhaps the Justice Department, and, frankly, he and Mr. Dunn, who testified after him, thought that perhaps the parties in the automobile were from the Justice Department or the Federal Bureau of Investigation. When he saw John Manchester go to the car and inquire of the driver or speak with the driver, he made the statement, "They must be trading with the enemy." Because, gentlemen, at that time perhaps, and unfortunately so, at that time Mr. Manchester was probably the enemy to Corrie Collins and to William Dunn.

Mr. Dunn took the stand, gentlemen, and he corroborates the other witnesses in this case concerning the incident in Clinton, Louisiana. He was with or certainly saw Corrie Collins. He recalled the statement of Corrie Collins to the effect that they must be trading with the enemy. Gentlemen, this man had no reason to come into this courtroom and lie to you or to this Court. This man was concerned like the rest at that time because of the tense situation, and he positively identified the Defendant before the Bar as the driver of that automobile, the same automobile, gentlemen, that Lee Harvey Oswald left to get in the voter registration line and to wait for his turn to talk to Mr. Palmer, and Mr. Palmer confirmed the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald did in fact talk to him.

And as further corroboration, gentlemen -- and I hope not to be too long, I don't want to go down and list witness by witness by witness and give you a recapitulation or summary of everything they said, because you outnumber me, you heard twelve times as much as I did, and certainly it is what you heard, and it is your appreciation of the testimony, and it is the weight that you want to give to the witnesses on the wit- ness stand that counts, not what I say.

Mrs. Dedon confirmed the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald did eventually go to the East Louisiana State Hospital and ask her for directions to the Administration Building, and the Administration Building was where the Personal Office was where a man would attempt to seek employment at the East Louisiana State Hospital. Mrs. Kemp testified that she saw Lee Harvey Oswald's application in the files of the East Louisiana State Hospital. And there is something -- there is something curious about this, and it is another coincidence perhaps. She said that the file card had "Harvey Lee Oswald." Gentlemen, there is only one person in this courtroom during this trial who ever admitted to calling Lee Harvey Oswald "Harvey Lee Oswald," and that was the Defendant before the Bar when he gave his interview the night after he was arrested. Now, what has the State shown by the presentation of these witnesses from Clinton, Louisiana? I think it has demonstrated, I think it did demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt at that juncture the Defendant was a liar totally unworthy of your belief, that in fact he did know Lee Harvey Oswald, that in fact he did know David W. Ferrie.

Gentlemen, after the evidence from Clinton, Louisiana, the State put on the stand certain police officers who had arrested Lee Oswald, certain evidence as to the distribution of Fair Play for Cuba Committee Leaflets. You saw these leaflets. Marina Oswald testified that she put the stamp on the leaflet, "A. J. HIDELL." You have seen the leaflets. the interesting one and the significant one, gentlemen, was June 16, 1963. Officer Gaillot said that he asked Lee Harvey Oswald, who was passing the leaflets out, to leave the Dumaine Street wharf. But what is critical here, gentlemen, is the fact that he seized some leaflets and they were identical to the ones taken from him on Canal Street, the one identified by Marina Oswald on June 16, 1963. And they were significant for this reason: because the latter part of June, 1963, a State witness by the name of Vernon Bundy saw the Defendant and Lee Harvey Oswald on the Lakefront in this city, and, if you will recall, he said that he wrapped up his nar- cotics outfit in leaflets that said "FREE CUBA" or something of that nature. I showed him the leaflet taken from Lee Harvey Oswald earlier that same month, one of the leaflets taken from him earlier that same month, and he said it appeared to be the same.

Now let's consider the testimony of Vernon Bundy. Gentlemen, I want to make one thing abundantly clear. I do not apologize for Vernon Bundy or any witness that the State of Louisiana put on during this case. You take your witness, gentlemen, as you find them. It would be fine if we had a lot of bank presidents come before you and tell you how they overheard the Defendant conspire to kill the President of the United States, but you are not going to find too many bank presidents associating with Lee Harvey Oswald and David Ferrie and those of his stripe.

Vernon Bundy took that stand, gentlemen, and we elicited from him at the outset that he was on the Methadone program designed to help addicts rid themselves of the habit of drug addition. This man told Defense Counsel and the State from the witness stand that he had been shooting narcotics for a long, long, long time. And he took this witness stand, gentlemen, and he said that he had gone to the Lakefront of this city, and that when he was on the seawall preparing his narcotics for injection, a black car pulled up behind him.

Now, gentlemen, perhaps it is difficult -- I know it is difficult for me, and I know it must be difficult for you -- to put yourselves in the frame of mind of Vernon Bundy or any drug addict on the Seawall. He is concerned with only one thing, and that is shooting the narcotics, protecting the narcotics and not letting the police sneak up on him and arrest him before he could dispose of the narcotics. The moment that car pulled up, gentlemen, you can be assured, and you were assured by Vernon Bundy, that his attention was riveted on that automobile as it was on the occupants of that car, who left the car and walked along the seawall. And his attention was riveted for a good, good reason, and he told you that reason: he did not want this man to run up on him all of a sudden before he could jettison or throw his narcotics out into Pontchartrain Lake, because without the evidence the man could not be charged with possession of narcotics. And he riveted his attention to that man. He saw another man walk from the other end of the seawall or from the other direction. They met, and he in this courtroom and under oath positively identified the Defendant as the man that got out of the black Cadillac. Coincidentally, the Defendant was seen in a black Cadillac in Clinton in late August, early September, 1963. He saw him get out of that black Cadillac, approach the other man whom he positively identified as Lee Harvey Oswald. He appeared to give him a roll of money. The State did not prove, and I am not attempting to tell you here that it was definitely and positively and beyond any possible doubt a roll of money. He appeared to give him a roll of money, that is, the Defendant gave Oswald what appeared to be a roll of money, and when Oswald put this item, which appeared to be a roll of money, in his pocket, he dislodged some of these leaflets, the same leaflets that hte had been distributing on the Dumaine Street wharf earlier that month, maybe a week or a week and a half before this incident.

And let us recall, gentlemen, that Vernon Bundy was seated on the top wall, or the top step rather, of the seawall. His position was down, and there is something that he noticed, something that frankly might have frightened him, as he said, somewhat. It was the strange gait or apparent limp of this man whom he identified as the Defendant before the Bar. Vernon Bundy graphically demonstrated to this Court and to this Jury while he was on that witness stand when he made that Defendant walk back to that door and then walk forward. Is there anyone in this courtroom or anyone on this Jury that did not notice the peculiar gait of the Defendant? The Defendant himself on the witness stand admitted that he had the affliction in 1963 as a result of a dislodged disc in his back. This was but further corroboration of the testimony of Vernon Bundy in this case. Again, gentlemen, when the Defendant makes the statement under oath that he did not know Lee Harvey Oswald, he is proven a liar and unworthy of your belief.


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