The Clay Shaw trial testimony of Perry Raymond Russo, continued
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR. DYMOND:
Q: Mr. Russo, you are living at 5807 Elysian fields, are you?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: How long have you been living there?
A: Since December 11, 1968.
Q: Where did you live prior to that?
A: 4122 Prytania Street.
Q: How long did you live there?
A: Oh, since September of 1967, I mean, let's see, September of '67, yes, that would be right.
Q: Now, prior to September of '67, where did you live?
A: For six months, 619 North St. Patrick Street in New Orleans.
Q: What is your occupation now?
A: I work with the Great Books of the Western World as part of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Q: A book salesman?
A: I work in sales and also in training.
Q: Is it a fact that you were a cab driver up until a short while ago?
A: I was a cab driver part time along with the insurance that I was working -- this was in '67, all the way until about the middle of '68, at times I worked cabs, on weekends, also during the week sometimes.
Q: Mr. Russo, are you sure this was Mr. Sciambra that you were talking about up in Baton Rouge?
A: Andy Sciambra? Yes, he identified himself that way.
Q: And you recognize him in the Court now?
A: I do.
Q: Now, you have pointed out in excess of 25 errors in Mr. Sciambra's memorandum of what he claims that you told him.
MR. ALCOCK: I object at this time, that may be Mr. Dymond's account, I don't know if the Court made a count, but it might be injecting something that is really not in evidence, I personally did not count them. I don't know if Mr. Russo did or not.
MR. DYMOND: We can count them here, sir.
THE COURT: Can't you say there were a number of them, because I can't comment on what Mr. Russo said, but you can say there were a number of corrections or whatever you want to call them.
MR. DYMOND: Just a minute, I will get the exact figure. To be exact, you have pointed out 26 alleged errors.
MR. ALCOCK: To be exact on each calculation, Mr. Dymond's arithmetic is in some question.
MR. DYMOND: If we have seen fit to count them, if the State wants to dispute them, I want to know what their count is.
THE COURT: Can't you say there are a number?
MR. DYMOND: We know there were 26, sir.
THE COURT: Mr. Alcock says they may be corrections and not admitted errors.
MR. DYMOND: Suppose I say approximately 26.
MR. ALCOCK: Yes.
MR. DYMOND: We will compromise.
BY MR. DYMOND:
Q: You have pointed out approximately 26 errors in Mr. Sciambra's memorandum of what he contends that you told him. Now, is it your contention that Mr. Sciambra deliberately distorted what you told, or that he made this many mistakes as to what you told him?
MR. ALCOCK: Objection, this man cannot obviously answer that question.
MR. DYMOND: This witness is disputing a memorandum of what he purportedly said. I would like to know on what basis.
THE COURT: The memorandum was not prepared for the witness.
MR. DYMOND: If he claims it is wrong, I would like to know on what basis.
MR. ALCOCK: He pointed out certain areas in the transcript, something that has been introduced into evidence and read to the Jury, and surely he can't know whether Mr. Sciambra deliberately made mistakes in compilation of this memorandum.
MR. DYMOND: This witness has to know whether he clearly told this statement to Mr. Sciambra, if he clearly told it to him --
THE COURT: Why don't you put that question to him?
BY MR. DYMOND:
Q: Did you clearly give this statement to Mr. Sciambra?
A: We talked for about three hours, it would be hard to say whether it was clear. There was a lot of -- in other words, Sciambra, in other words, to give you the physical aspect of how it stood, Sciambra sat there with a briefcase on his knees opened up and he had a bunch of photographs there, and he had a little pad, every once in a while he would write a little note on there, and most of the time he was holding the photographs, turned them all down, and pulled one out and said, "Do you know this guy," and I would say yes, or I never seen it, or I would say, yes, I remember him from somewhere or something to that effect, and he didn't even copy that, I guess he did, but he didn't let me see any of the notes taken, and I was sitting next to him.
Q: Be that as it may, you did your best to state it clearly to him, did you not?
A: Oh, I would say depending on the questions, I don't know if it was my best.
Q: You were not trying to conceal anything, were you?
A: He was asking me a question, and sometimes he would be asking the next question while I was trying to answer this one, a big deal was Ferrie's philosophy, I thought that it was important, I had to talk an hour and a half to explain that, he would listen but it was not all that exciting to him.
Q: You thought the big deal was Ferrie's philosophy, or was that his idea?
A: That was my idea, I thought that that was the big deal.
Q: You thought that was the important part of it?
A: I thought that was the big deal as far as that is why he wanted to question me immediately.
Q: Now, you knew that President Kennedy had been assassinated then, didn't you?
A: When Sciambra talked to me?
Q: That's right.
Q: You say you had also heard at that time three men planning to assassinate President Kennedy, is that right?
A: I don't understand that.
Q: At that time you say that you had heard three men plan to assassinate the President?
A: No, I didn't make that at all clear to Mr. Sciambra, I said there was a meeting up there and a group of people were talking about shooting Kennedy, and five minutes before then I told him that Ferrie came over with a couple of guys and said, "We are going to kill Kennedy and it won't be long."
Q: I asked you whether or not you did not know at that time that you had seen and heard three people plan to assassinate President Kennedy.
A: I still don't understand the question.
Q: When you were talking to Mr. Sciambra in --
A: In Baton Rouge?
Q: In Baton Rouge, did you not then know that you had seen and heard three people plan to assassinate President Kennedy?
A: Well, I don't know if I had seen or heard three people plan to assassinate Kennedy, I heard a discussion about shooting Kennedy as well as I had heard the discussion on the street about killing Judge Perez or killing Martin Luther King or killing someone else.
Q: When you heard of this thing on Louisiana Avenue Parkway, you didn't take it seriously, or what?
A: It depended again -- I am trying to emphasize that Ferrie's philosophy, you wouldn't know whether or not to take him seriously or not.
Q: You knew at that time that a District Attorney from the Parish of Orleans was being represented by Mr. Sciambra who was investigating the assassination of President Kennedy, didn't you?
A: Yes, that is correct.
Q: And you knew your story about the meeting on Louisiana Avenue Parkway, didn't you?
A: Yes, right.
Q: And you knew that President Kennedy had been assassinated, is that correct?
A: President Kennedy had been assassinated, yes. Q: Knowing all of these things, you thought that the philosophy of David Ferrie was the big deal he wanted to talk to you about and that you wanted to talk to him about. Is that right?
A: That is what I thought was most important.
Q: David Ferrie was dead at that time, was he not?
A: My recollection is that I saw his picture in the paper, on television, one or the other, and I saw his name first, David William or Woodrow Ferrie, and I didn't look, they didn't have an address, as I remember it, and he was alive at that time, and then I saw his picture that night or afternoon in the news or on television, at that time I decided to write the letter and just send it to the District Attorney's Office, at that time I think he was alive, but I am not real sure of exactly when he died.
Q: The point is when you spoke to Mr. Sciambra, you knew Mr. Ferrie was dead, didn't you?
A: When Mr. Sciambra talked to me on the 25th, yes, I did know it.
Q: Now, when you first met David Ferrie, I understand he was living out in Kenner. Is that correct?
Q: And according to my recollection of your direct testimony, you do not know the address he was living at there?
A: No, sir.
Q: Now, who first introduced you to David Ferrie?
A: Al Landry.
Q: Al Landry?
Q: Is this the same Al Landry to whom you referred in your statement to Mr. Sciambra?
Q: Is it the same Al Landry whom you said could give more detailed information about Ferrie's roommate?
A: I said he could give more detailed information about Ferrie's friends and associates, yes. I did say that, on Page 4, towards the bottom.
Q: You said that Landry could give more information about the roommate. Is that right?
A: In line with this, in connection with -- I asked Mr. Sciambra to -- on Page 6, I asked Mr. Sciambra to take a picture, put a beard on Oswald and do not say who it is and show the picture to Kenny Carter, Landry, Kershenstine, and a few others, essentially the idea I cam across, they might have seen this person before.
Q: Now, when Ferrie was living out in Kenner, approximately how many times did you visit him out there?
Q: Only one time. Is that correct?
Q: Is that the occasion upon which his mother was present?
Q: And Al Landry was with you at that time. Is that right?
A: I remember it, he brought me out there or drove in another car, there was some kind of a meeting going on out there.
Q: Now, in what year would you estimate that?
A: I would say 1961 or '62.
Q: '61 or '62. Would we be safe in saying late '61 or early '62?
A: I don't really know exactly, because there was just -- I don't know exactly the date of that, I told that to Sciambra in Baton Rouge, I don't know the exact date of when I did go out there.
Q: Now, were you aware of the fact when Ferrie moved from Kenner to Louisiana Avenue Parkway?
A: When he did move, no.
Q: In other words, you did know he was going to move when he did move. Is that right?
Q: When did you first find out he was living on Louisiana Avenue Parkway?
A: He contacted me.
Q: Now --
A: I don't recall, either bumping into him or perhaps he called me, one or the other, because I had no reason -- I lived on Elysian Fields with my father at that time.
Q: Approximately how long after this call or chance meeting did you visit Ferrie or Louisiana Avenue Parkway?
A: I am not sure, he came over to the house on a couple of occasions, he might have just come over initially, anyway, I am not sure he called, but he came over to the house, to my house, on several occasions before I had occasion to go up to Louisiana Avenue.
Q: Now, after the contact was made, after he had moved to Louisiana Avenue Parkway, did you commence seeing him with reasonable frequency?
A: Well, more or less, I saw him, yes.
Q: Now, approximately when would you place this date of your renewing these appointments with him?
A: Well, it was not -- you know, an acquaintance, I don't know, really, I mean -- it could have been late '62, early '63 that I first went up there, I don't know exactly when the first time was I went up there, but he came over in the beginning more than I went over to his place, I don't know exactly when the first time was that I ever went up there.
Q: Now, did you and Ferrie become pretty good friends?
A: He was a distant person, you could not be a good friend, that is the way I figured it, although a lot of people probably say different on that.
Q: After you renewed the acquaintance, after he moved to Louisiana Avenue Parkway, can you tell us about how frequently you saw him?
A: Well, on occasions, just averaging it out, maybe twice a week, I don't know, he might pass over to the house or I might pass up there, more likely than not these times were after April or May of 1963 than before because of exams and because of school, but during school he came, sometimes would come over, but just as an average during those five or six summer months, maybe twice a week.
Q: Now, at one point there was a reciprocal open invitation given by you and Ferrie to come to each other's houses when you would want to.
A: Well, yes, I told him, I said, "If ever you are in the neighborhood just drop in, if it is late knock on the window and I will wake up," and, well, always knew he kept late hours.
Q: Well, would it be fair to say that each one of you felt free to go to the other one's house uninvited?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: To take with you whomever you pleased?
Q: Now, approximately how long did this relationship continue?
A: Well, during the Summer months of '63, and I went back to school.
Q: Now, what do you term the Summer months, Mr. Russo?
A: Well, school starts trailing off and you start preparing for exams in early May, late April, baseball starts around April, that to me -- baseball is parallel with the Summer.
Q: Just so that we will both now what we are talking about here, would you say the Summer months are April through what?
Q: April through September. Is that right?
A: Yes, although September is a month of school.
Q: Now, how old were you back in 1963?
A: I guess about 22.
Q: How old are you now?
Q: 27. How old was Ferrie at that time?
A: I don't know.
Q: Approximately how old was he?
A: Just about 40.
Q: About 40?
Q: Now, you have testified that David Ferrie's appearance varied from time to time, that is sometimes his wig was combed, other times it was mussed up; is that right?
A: Well, sometimes it had spots, and other times it didn't have spots, it seemed to be combed a little bit, yes.
Q: What do you mean "having spots"?
A: I other words there were places it would be bald, you know, I didn't sit there and stare at it, but you couldn't help but notice, and sometimes it would not be bald, it would be -- it would have been filled up, and it would be -- if he would have combed it.
Q: Now, as a matter of fact, Ferrie had been the victim of a disease which caused him to lose all of his natural hair. Is that correct?
MR. ALCOCK: Object, that is something not in evidence.
THE COURT: I think it is a fair question, if he knows.
MR. ALCOCK: If he knows of his own knowledge.
THE WITNESS: I didn't.
BY MR. DYMOND:
Q: Did he have any natural hair on his head?
A: I don't know.
Q: You never did see him without a wig?
A: No, sir.
Q: Did he have any natural eyebrows?
A: Natural eyebrows?
A: I don't know.
Q: Did you ever see him without his false eyebrows?
A: Well, I saw him with bushy eyebrows and I saw him with some that were not so -- you just could barely see them, I guess that might be the natural eyebrows, if he had them at all, that was probably them.
Q: So it is your testimony that you have seen him with thin eyebrows. Is that correct?
A: Slightly, right, slightly there. If it was real, I don't know.
Q: Would you term them unusually light eyebrows?
A: Oh, I don't know, unusually light, you could see them a little bit there.
Q: Well, were they as heavy as mine or not?
A: Lighter than yours.
Q: Approximately how many times in all would you say that you visited this apartment on Louisiana Avenue Parkway?
A: Oh, I don't know, 15 or 20, 25.
Q: Within a period of how long?
A: Four or five months, four or five months we are talking about.
Q: Now, during the month of September, 1963, how many times did you visit the apartment?
A: Four or five.
Q: Four or five?
Q: Did you make any visits there early in the month of September?
A: I'm almost sure I did.
Q: If you recall, when did your school start that year?
A: When did school start?
A: I think it was about the third week or about the middle of the third week of September.
Q: Well, as I understand it, the frequency of your visits depended to some extent on whether you were occupied at school or not. Is that correct?
A: Quite often, yes.
Q: Therefore, would you say that you visited quite frequently in the first part of September before school started?
A: Well, I visited more than I would have after school had started, but the first couple of weeks of school aren't very much, you know, you just go there and check in and check out and it is all over.
Q: When would you say that your really serious school work started?
A: About the third week, I mean, the first week of October, after a couple of weeks of orientation and stuff.
Q: Now, you say that you went there three or four times during September. When was the first time that you saw this person whom you have described as a roommate?
A: Oh, about the middle, a little bit before the middle of the month.
Q: A little before the middle of the month?
MR. DYMOND: Your Honor, it is 3:00 o'clock, I think you wanted to recess.
THE COURT: I know you have more examination. You may leave the stand and smoke. We are going to take a five-minute recess. Will you take the Jury upstairs.
(Whereupon, a brief recess was taken.)
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