The Clay Shaw trial testimony of Pierre Finck, continued
AFTER THE RECESS:
THE COURT: Are the State and the Defense ready to proceed?
MR. OSER: The State is ready.
MR. DYMOND: The Defense is ready.
THE COURT: I believe the Doctor has been turned over for cross-examination.
MR. OSER: Correct, Your Honor.
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR. OSER:
Q: Doctor, I believe you stated you were one of the co-authors of the autopsy report? Is that correct?
A: I stated that I was one of the three authors of the autopsy report.
Q: Now, during the autopsy, Colonel, and the results of the autopsy, were there any disagreements between you and Commander Boswell and Commander Humes as to what was done and the results thereof?
Q: Am I correct in stating, Colonel, that you agreed, as the other two commanders agreed with you, as to the results and what was done and how it was done at the autopsy? Is that correct, sir?
A: And how it should be reported.
Q: Yes, sir. Right. Now, Doctor, have you ever conducted any experiments or research on the effects of a missile penetration of the brain or the skull?
A: I did not. However, if I may --
A: -- say something, I have carried out experiments to study the effect of a bullet striking bone, and also the effects of a bullet going through or striking a gelatin block. The reason for doing so is that gelatin approximates the consistency of soft tissue, and I was interested to know what happens to bullets, in one case striking bone, or, in other cases, going through gelatin, because I have been called to testify in other cases. One of them involved a rib in the back of a fatality, and based on the crater seen in the rib of that soldier, I could determine that the wound of entry was in the back of that soldier, and I also had experiments made on the bone, on the rib, showing that when you strike that bone from the back you produce a similar lesion as that observed in the actual criminal case.
Q: Well, am I correct in saying you did not have any experiments or research in the area of a missile penetrating the brain and skull? Is that correct? Did you not tell the Warren Commission that when you were asked by them, sir?
A: This is correct, but I would like to say at this time that I have carried out experiments after my testimony before the Warren Commission.
Q: Where did you carry those experiments out after you testified before the Warren Commission?
A: When? In Edgewood Arsenal; it was in December of 1965 and January 1966, experiments -- involving bullets, and this has no connection at all with the assassination of President Kennedy, they were experiments made to study the effects of bullets. And the other experiments were made in the F.B.I. Laboratory, and again it was not connected with the assassination of President Kennedy.
Q: Therefore, Doctor, am I correct in stating that at the time of your autopsy report that you submitted along with Commanders Boswell and Humes, you primarily based your opinion on your observations made at that particular time? Is that correct, sir?
A: This is correct, and --
Q: Now --
A: And I would like to add the information obtained the day following the autopsy, which stated that there was a small wound in the front of the neck of President Kennedy and that that wound had been extended to make the surgical incision. The wound observed in the front of the neck was part of the surgical incision made by the Dallas surgeons, and I knew that at the time I signed the autopsy report.
Q: When did you all contact the doctors at Parkland Hospital?
A: Are you asking me if I contacted a Dr. Parker?
Q: No, I asked you when did you all contact the doctors at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas.
A: Oh, I did not contact them, Dr. Humes did.
Q: And did Dr. Humes relate to you what he learned from these doctors at Parkland?
Q: Do you know when Dr. Humes contacted these doctors at Parkland?
A: As far as I know, Dr. Humes called them the morning following the autopsy, as far as I know, Dr. Humes called Dallas on Saturday morning, on the 23rd of November, 1963.
Q: Doctor, can you tell me why the delay in contacting the doctors that worked on President Kennedy in Dallas until the next morning after the body was already removed from the autopsy table?
A: I can't explain that. I know that Dr. Humes told me he called them. I cannot give an approximate time. I can give you the reason why he called. As I have stated before, having a wound of entry in the back of the neck, having seen no exit in the front of the neck, nothing from the radiologist who looked at the whole body X-ray films, I have requested as there was no whole bullet remaining in the cadaver of the President, that was a very strong reason for inquiring if there were not another wound in the approximate direction corresponding to that wound of entry in the back of the neck, because in the wound of the head with entry in the back of the head and exit on the right side of the head, I never had any doubt, any question that it was a through-and- through wound of the head with disintegration of the bullet. The difficulty was to have found an entry in the back of the neck and not to have seen an exit corresponding to that entry.
Q: This puzzled you at this time, is that right, Doctor?
A: Sorry, I don't understand you.
Q: This puzzled you at the time, the wound in the back and you couldn't find an exit wound? You were wondering about where this bullet was or where the path was going, were you not?
Q: Well, at that particular time, Doctor, why didn't you call the doctors at Parkland or attempt to ascertain what the doctors at Parkland may have done or may have seen while the President's body was still exposed to view on the autopsy table?
A: I will remind you that I was not in charge of this autopsy, that I was called --
Q: You were a co-author of the report though, weren't you, Doctor?
A: Wait. I was called as a consultant to look at these wounds; that doesn't mean I am running the show.
Q: Was Dr. Humes running the show?
A: Well, I heard Dr. Humes stating that -- he said, "Who is in charge here?" and I heard an Army General, I don't remember his name, stating, I am." You must understand that in those circumstances, there were law enforcement officers, military people with various ranks, and you have to co-ordinate the operation according to directions.
Q: But you were one of the three qualified pathologists standing at that autopsy table, were you not, Doctor?
A: Yes, I am.
Q: Was this Army General a qualified pathologist?
Q: Was he a doctor?
A: No, not to my knowledge.
Q: Can you give me his name, Colonel?
A: No, I can't. I don't remember.
Q: Do you happened to have the photographs and X-rays taken of President Kennedy's body at the time of the autopsy and shortly thereafter? Do you?
A: I do not have X-rays or photographs of President Kennedy with me.
Q: What time did you arrive at Bethesda Naval Hospital in regard to the autopsy? By that I mean was the autopsy already begun?
A: When I arrived, X-rays had been taken of the head. I had been told so over the phone by Dr. Humes when he called me at home, and I arrived, I would say, a short time after the beginning of the autopsy, I can't give you an exact time, it was approximately 8:00 o'clock at night.
Q: Had any work been done on President Kennedy's body in regard to the performing of the autopsy by the time you got there?
A: As I recall, the brain had been removed. Dr. Humes told me that to remove the brain he did not have to carry out the procedure you carry out when there is no wound in the skull. The wound was of such an extent, over five inches in diameter, that it was not of a great difficulty for him to remove this brain, and this is the best of my recollection. There were no removals of the wound of entry in the back of the eck, no removal of the wound of entry in the back of the head prior to my arrival, and I made a positive identification of both wounds of entry. At this time I might, for the sake of clarity, say that in the autopsy report we may have called the first wound the one in the head and the second wound the one in the neck, because we did not know the sequence of shots at that time. Again, the sequence of shots was determined by the Zapruder film, so what we did, we determined the entry of the bullet wound and stated that there were two bullet wounds, one in the back of the neck and the other in the back of the head, without giving a sequence.
Q: How many other military personnel were present at the autopsy in the autopsy room?
A: That autopsy room was quite crowded. It is a small autopsy room, and when you are called in circumstances like that to look at the wound of the President of the United States who is dead, you don't look around too much to ask people for their names and take notes on who they are and how many there are. I did not do so. The room was crowded with military and civilian personnel and federal agents, Secret Service agents, FBI agents, for part of the autopsy, but I cannot give you a precise breakdown as regards the attendance of the people in that autopsy room at Bethesda Naval Hospital.
Q: Colonel, did you feel that you had to take orders from this Army General that was there directing the autopsy?
A: No, because there were others, there were Admirals.
Q: There were Admirals?
A: Oh, yes, there were Admirals, and when you are a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army you just follow orders, and at the end of the autopsy we were specifically told -- as I recall it, it was by Admiral Kinney, the Surgeon General of the Navy -- this is sub- ject to verification -- we were specifically told not to discuss the case.
Q: You were told not to discuss the case?
A: -- to discuss the case without coordination with the Attorney General.
Q: Colonel, can you tell me how the body got from Dallas to Washington, D.C. when the killing occurred in Dallas, Texas, if you know?
MR. DYMOND: Your Honor, I object to that.
THE COURT: I didn't hear the question, Mr. Oser. Would you repeat it?
MR. OSER: I said: Doctor, can you tell me how the body of the President got from Dallas, Texas, to Washington, D.C., when Dallas, Texas was the scene of the homicide, if you know.
MR. DYMOND: I think that is irrelevant to the medical testimony.
THE COURT: It would be irrelevant as to his expert opinions that he is giving. I think your question is what care was taken of the body, is that what you mean, the body itself? You can rephrase your question.
MR. OSER: That is all right. I will go on to another subject.
BY MR. OSER:
Q: Doctor, can you tell me how many photographs were taken of the President's body?
A: Some of the photographs were taken in my presence in the autopsy room. I can't give you the exact number, but this information is available.
Q: To who, Doctor?
A: To you.
Q: It is?
A: It is a public document.
Q: Go ahead. How many?
A: I can't give you an exact number of photographs taken or X-rays of the body of the President.
Q: Doctor, prior to your writing your report on the autopsy, did you have an occasion to view these photographs of the President that were taken?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: Doctor, I direct your attention to a report allegedly signed by you on 26 January, 1967.
MR. DYMOND: What part are you talking about?
(Conference between Counsel.)
BY MR. OSER:
Q: (Exhibiting document to witness) Doctor, I direct your attention to a report, which I mark for identification "S-67," and I ask you to take a look at this document. Would you take a look at this particular one that I have marked, Doctor, and let me know whether it is the same as the one you have before you.
A: (Comparing documents) It is.
Q: Your answer is that it is, Doctor?
Q: And it contains your signature? Am I correct, sir?
(Whereupon, the document referred to by Counsel was duly marked for identification as "Exhibit D-67.")
BY MR. OSER:
Q: Doctor, I direct your attention to the first page, the bottom of the last line of the fifth paragraph, which states, "Dr. Finck first saw the photographs on January 20, 1967," and I ask you if you would explain your answer to me, sir, just made, that you saw the photographs prior to writing your autopsy report in 1963.
A: I did not say that I had seen the photographs before writing the autopsy report of 1963.
MR. OSER: May I have my original question read back to the Doctor, please, and his answer.
(Whereupon, the aforegoing passage was read back by the Reporter as follows:
"Q: Doctor, prior to your writing your report on the autopsy, did you have an occasion to view these photographs of the President that were taken?
"A: Yes, I did.")
THE WITNESS: No, I did not, I did not see those photographs before signing my autopsy report. I may have answered "I didn't" and it was transcribed as "I did."
BY MR. OSER:
Q: Doctor, did you hear what the stenographer just read you back? That is my question that I propounded to you. Now the question is: Did you see the photographs of President Kennedy before signing your autopsy report.
A: That is correct.
Q: That is correct?
A: I was there when the photographs were taken, but I did not see the photographs of the wounds before I signed the autopsy report. I did not see those photographs in 1963.
Q: So what you said before, that you did see the photographs, that was wrong? Is that correct?
A: I never said that. It was misunderstood. I said "I did not" or I didn't." I am very firm on this point that I did not see --
Q: Is it, Doctor, the fact that I showed you the report --
THE COURT: I think you have covered the matter now.
MR. OSER: Your Honor, I have a right to go into the credibility of this witness like any other witness on cross-examination.
THE COURT: I agree with you. I am not denying you that right.
MR. WILLIAM WEGMANN: He also has a right to finish his answer once he starts.
THE COURT: I don't know what the status of the matter is.
MR. EDWARD WEGMANN: The Doctor hadn't finished answering his question when he was interrupted by Mr. Oser.
THE COURT: Doctor, let me explain to you: Any question put to you by Mr. Oser, first, if there is a yes or no answer that can be given to it, either say yes or no, and then if you want to explain your answer, you have a legal right to explain it.
THE WITNESS: Yes, sir, yes, sir.
THE COURT: All right. You may pose your next question.
MR. DYMOND: May he finish his last answer before he poses his next question?
THE COURT: I thought he was finished. You may proceed.
A: (Continuing) The first time I saw the photographs taken during the autopsy, the first time I saw these photographs was in January 1967 -- one nine six seven.
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