The Clay Shaw trial testimony of Perry Raymond Russo, continued
February 11, 1969



PERRY RAYMOND RUSSO, a witness called by and on behalf of the State, having been sworn and having testified previously, resumed the stand for a continuation of the CROSS-EXAMINATION BY MR. DYMOND:
Q: Mr. Russo, on direct examination yesterday did you tell the entire story as you recollected it in connection with the meeting which you say took place on Louisiana Avenue Parkway in September of 1963?

A: To Sciambra in Baton Rouge?

Q: No, on your direct testimony yesterday, when questioned by Mr. Alcock.

A: Well, what -- I don't know the -- exactly what information you want.

Q: I want to know whether you gave a complete account of this party and what has been termed a conspiratorial meeting when you testified on this direct examination under questioning by Mr. Alcock.

A: Well, I don't know, I answered the questions, I tried to answer the questions he asked. I don't know if there were any omissions in there, though.

Q: To your knowledge, in his questioning did he leave out anything?

A: Not apparently.

Q: In other words, you are not able to name anything that he did not cover in his questioning of you concerning this meeting and party. Is that right?

A: No, not immediately.

Q: I see. Now, Mr. Russo, during the meeting which you say took place after the other guests left, did you contribute anything at all to the conversation?

A: No, I was mot of the time going in and going back out down the street, down to the street a lot of times. I didn't hear the entire conversation.

Q: So you were in and out then during this time when you say these people were talking. Is that right?

A: Yes.

Q: And of course you would not know what went on when you were out of the room, would you?

A: Right, no.

Q: Would I be correct then in saying, Mr. Russo, that you only heard portions or fragments of the conversation which took place there in view of the fact that you were in and out of the room?

A: Yes.

Q: And then you would not purport to have heard the entire conversation as a matter of continuity, would you?

A: No.

Q: Now, Mr. Russo, referring to what you did hear of this conversation between the parties whom you say were Leon Oswald, Clem Bertrand and David Ferrie, was there ever any actual agreement to kill John F. Kennedy?

MR. ALCOCK: I object to the question.

THE COURT: I sustain the objection. That is a question for the Jury to decide.

MR. ALCOCK: My objection is based upon the fact that agreement can be reached between persons using different words, it is a meeting of the minds, and as the Court points out, this is something for the Jury to determine. This man can't state whether or not there had been agreement between these men, and additionally --

MR. DYMOND: I will break the question down, if the Court, please.

Q: In your presence, did David Ferrie ever agree to kill the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy?

A: He said, "We will kill him."

Q: He had said that many times before, had he not?

A: Right.

Q: As a matter of fact, he had made that direct statement to you alone, had he not?

A: Right.

Q: Did Leon Oswald ever, in your presence, agree to kill the President of the United States?

A: No.

Q: Did Clem Bertrand ever agree to kill the President of the United States?

A: No.

Q: Would I be correct in saying then that you never hear anyone actually agree to kill the President of the United States?

A: Well, when you say "agree," it is the problem, that is the word "agree," you know, I mean, all I do is hear people talking about it, I don't know if they agreed or not. It would seem to me they were in agreement as far as certain things were concerned, I don't know if they actually -- I can't remember either any of the three ever saying yes, this is how we will do it, let's do it this way.

Q: Did you ever hear anybody say, "We will do it"?

A: Dave Ferrie, "We will get him."

Q: "I will get him" or "We will get him," the same he had said many times before?

A: "We will get him," he didn't say, "We will do it."

Q: When was the first time you ever heard Dave Ferrie say that?

A: Oh, sometime in the Summer.

Q: Several months before this meeting that you have reference to. Is that correct?

A: Well, it was between, you know, June and July or August.

Q: When Ferrie told you this individually, as you have testified, did you ever agree with Ferrie that it was a good idea, tacitly go along with him?

A: I told him that it would be extremely difficult to do something like that, and that he didn't have much hope of success.

Q: Did you ever verbally indicate disagreement with the idea, Mr. Russo, when Ferrie told you this privately?

A: Well, I told him it would not be possible.

Q: But you never did say that it was not a good idea or affirmatively state that you would not help him, did you?

A: Well, all he was doing was lecturing, and he would state this -- there are two things, the front and the back of the auditorium, this idea of his, where the back man fires a shot just to attract attention, a real quick shot, and almost instantly a man in front fires a dead-end shot for the speaker, that would be in the front of the auditorium, and it was not much of a conversation, he just stated the facts. I said, "Well, that is impossible."

Q: And it was quite common for Ferrie to lecture in this way as you have put it, was it not?

A: Right.

Q: In all fairness, would you say he may have been just lecturing at this meeting?

A: I can't really say he was lecturing or not. He seemed to be talking with the Defendant and also with Oswald, with some exchange from him.

Q: Just as he had talked to you on previous occasions. Is that right?

A: On one occasion, yes.

Q: And actually there was some exchange on that occasion and you told him that you didn't think it would be possible and so forth, was there not?

A: Right.

Q: Now, Mr. Russo, Dave Ferrie was what you would term an emotional man, was he not?

A: No.

Q: He didn't get excited and talk about things and repeat himself upon many occasions?

A: Well, he repeated himself on quite a few occasions, but he had a very good analytic brain, and, no, he did not get very emotional about things, he would talk at great length, at times he would get a little -- where he would be trying to prove a point and use his hands to get over the subject, whether it be about -- well, whatever he wanted to talk about.

Q: You would term him an opiniated man, would you not?

A: Opiniated, yes.

Q: Was he vociferous about his opinions, did he speak about them a great deal, he expressed his opinions a great deal, tried to convert people to his opinions a great deal?

A: In certain areas.

Q: What do you mean when you say "In certain areas," any particular --

A: He had a peculiar philosophy where his interests were. He had a peculiar philosophy in politics, he had, to me, a strange philosophy as far as the rationale of religious convictions, he talked a great deal about scientific things, but, I don't know what he talked about most of the time, he talked a little bit about cancer, he talked a little bit about -- quite a bit about hypnosis, things of this sort, those are the things that interested him and he did talk about them at some length, but at that time he was trying to prove a point, not really trying to convert someone, but he did know quite a bit about the subject that he talked about.

Q: Being the opiniated man that you say that Ferrie was and with this tendency to ex- press his opinions as you have described, is it not a fact that he would not be out of character at a party of this kind saying that the President should be killed and "We will get him," as he said many times before?

A: Are you asking me was he out of character for that?

Q: That is correct, yes.

A: No, I don't think so.

Q: In other words, that was something that you, knowing David Ferrie, would have more or less expected, isn't that right?

A: More or less.

Q: What you heard that night came as no great shock to you, did it?

A: No, I agree.

Q: As a matter of fact, Mr. Russo, if you had really taken this as a serious threat upon the life of President Kennedy, wouldn't you have gone and reported it to the FBI or the Secret Service, if you had really thought the President was going to be killed as a result of this?

A: Probably if it was the first time I ever met Dave Ferrie I would have, but this was preceded by 18 or 20 months.

Q: But in view of the fact that you knew Dave Ferrie, you didn't take it seriously, isn't that right?

A: Well, Dave Ferrie was the type of person you really didn't know whether you could take him seriously or not. In many instances he backed up what he would claim. If I could reflect back to Kenner, on that discussion on politics, where I was a Freshman or a Sophomore in college, I felt that I knew quite a bit about everything there was to know about political theory, and he just put me in my seat, he quoted book, chapter and verse, and later I found out he was right, I didn't look at the book and turn to Page 368, Paragraph 2, but in several ways he did back up what he said, and his hypnosis, he backed that up, I am sure it was not fake, I don't think it was fake or anything, and you couldn't really tell because some of the fantastic things that he said at the same time you could not -- I just sat there, I didn't have any real opinion whether he would back anything he said up, but I would not be surprised if he did because he had backed things up before.

Q: Actually, though, it was your knowledge or intimate knowledge of Dave Ferrie that kept you from taking this seriously enough to report it. Isn't that correct?

A: Let me just explain my position with Dave Ferrie. In other words --

MR. ALCOCK: I don't think that connects with the evidence in this case, he did report it to us.

MR. DYMOND: The witness is under cross-examination, I will get to the date of reporting, I full well realize he reported it to the District Attorney's office.

THE COURT: You may proceed. Mr. Russo was about to explain his answer, and you can go ahead.

A: In other words, Dave Ferrie was a character, not indifferent to it, but almost, out of -- somewhat I avoided the man mentally because he had a brilliant mind and he could sort of envelop and strangle a conversation or influence direction of thought because he might be able to prove it was wrong, and he did claim quite a few things that I didn't know if he backed up or not, he claimed he was in the Bay of Pigs to me, and I heard somewhere that he claimed that he was not. I don't know if he was in the Bay of Pigs, he claimed he flew down to Mexico and Cuba, these things I don't know, I could not test, but the problem with Ferrie was that along with the claims he had this appearance, he had no -- it looked to me no apparent purpose but on the other side of the coin he did back up the things, things that just -- when I came into contact with him, he did back these things up, he was well read in religious matters, he could quote book, chapter and verse on political stuff and things that I was interested in, and he did back himself up in this area, and he also had a medical lab. Now, I couldn't understand a man having a medical lab and not really knowing what he is doing down there, but he said he was a doctor or he had extensive knowledge in surgery and things of that sort, and what could he back up and what couldn't he, and I just pretended to be indifferent to his claims and talks and things like that, it just went in one ear and out the other, as far as validity I didn't know which way to take it.

Q: And for approximately four years you were indifferent to what you heard going on at this meeting, weren't you?

A: Approximately.

Q: And would you say it would be accurate to say this went in one ear and out the other?

A: Well, no, I am using that in the sense that what he was saying, whether or not to accept it, whether to accept it literally as to what he was claiming to do or what he had claimed to have done before, but between those, that period of time, Oswald died a couple of days right after Kennedy got shot, and when the FBI got on the television and said it was all over with, they had solved the crime or the Dallas police or whoever it was said that, quite a few people said that, I considered it a closed case, no one else was involved, interested, and I couldn't really point to Ferrie and say he was, I did not -- the FBI said everybody is cleared except Lee Oswald and Jack Ruby was not a fried of his or was not involved, and I --

Q: Mr. Russo, knowing yourself that you do, would you have remained indifferent for four years to what you considered a serious formulated plan to kill the President?

A: The plan, you know, as I told you, I was walking in and out, and the reason that I initially got into the thing was because of the D.A.'s office, which was mentioned in Baton Rouge, well, mentioned the name of Dave Ferrie, or his picture came in the paper, one of them, and the day before, I think it was the day before he died I wrote a letter, but I never mailed it until a couple of days later, and that is when it appeared to me that other people, Dave Ferrie for one, might be involved in the killing of President Kennedy.

Q: And you had been indifferent toward this thing for about four years up until that time, had you not, sir?

A: No one, right, no one contacted me.

Q: Actually, you had not really worried about it, had you?

A: No, I didn't worry about it.

Q: Actually you didn't really worry about it right after you heard it, did you?

A: When Oswald was arrested, I told a couple of friends that I knew him, or ir looked like I knew him, I thought it was the same guy, or when he was shot, one or the other, and then of course all the hurrah on the news and television and newspapers that he was the only man, I was finding out what the Warren Commission was saying -- that was next year.

Q: I am talking about the period between mid-September and November 22, 1963, you did not worry about this, did you?

A: Oh, between that period of time?

Q: Right.

A: No.

Q: As an American citizen, wouldn't you have worried, wouldn't you have been concerned if you had thought there was brewing a plot to kill your President?

A: Well, if I could answer it this way, Mr. Dymond, Judge Perez recently said something about, a year or so ago, that he felt there was a plot to kill him, and unless someone were to name a person, unless Judge Perez were to name a person that was involved, this man looked like -- I am going to arrest him and charge him with so and so, and if he were connected, I have heard people say that Judge Perez would be better dead than alive, better under the swamp than on top of it, I heard that on several occasions and quite often back in '63 and the prior years there was quite a few things that the schools were being -- the schools were being desegregated, there was a lot of hurrah about that and quite often I heard the remark, "If I had a gun I would shoot President Kennedy," or the no good so-and-so should be dead, so between September and November of 1963, again I put the remark on the shelf.

Q: Now, although you were a Republican, Russo, and I don't know whether you agreed or disagreed with President Kennedy's policy, but you certainly did not want to see him dead, did you?

A: No, sir.

Q: And as an American citizen, wouldn't you have worried between mid-September of '63 and November of '63 if you had actually thought that there was in existence a plan to kill your President?

A: Well, in mid-September, if I had thought again, again if I had met Dave Ferrie for the first time then I would probably have called the New Orleans Police or somebody and told them this is what I heard, take it for what it is worth, but I had known Dave Ferrie for a little while before.

Q: And because of your knowledge of Dave Ferrie, you didn't do that, you didn't see fit to do it, you didn't think it was necessary. Is that right?

A: That is one of the reasons.

Q: Now, Mr. Russo, you say that there were ten or 12 people at this party before the crowd started to disintegrate.

A: About eight or ten.

Q: About eight or ten. Can you give me the names of any of those people other than Clem Bertrand, David Ferrie, Leon Oswald, and yourself?

A: Oh, there was this -- well, there were two Spanish-looking guys who I remember.

Q: You can't say who they were?

A: The were introduced, one name that I remember and the other name I am not sure, there was Julian, a Manuel.

Q: Of course you realize both of those are very common Latin names.

A: Yes.

Q: And you can't give us the names of any other people there?

A: No.

Q: Weren't you mingling in this crowd, wouldn't you associate with these people?

A: Not really.

Q: Were you standing off to yourself, or what?

A: No, essentially I would be talking or probably watching Dave Ferrie walk up and down when I was inside. Of course at that time that you are talking about I was inside.

Q: Were you fascinated about what you heard going on, why would that attract your attention?

A: Well, Dave Ferrie monopolized the conversation, he gave it impetus and direction, so to speak, and, for example, one night I was standing on the corner of Canal and Decatur and along comes Ferrie and some others, and I later on get the impression from talking to Allen Landry that they were going out to find something to do or something, and you could not exactly know what you could expect from Ferrie the next time, so he paces up and down the floor and talks about Kennedy.

Q: Hearing Ferrie talk is nothing new for you, you heard this on many occasions, had you not?

A: Well, I might answer that question a little bit better, he did have a fascinating way of talking or a mind, anyway.

Q: In other words, would it be a fair statement for me to say that there is no one alive and available to testify about this party that you can name except yourself and the man whom you have termed Clem Bertrand --

MR. ALCOCK: That is difficult for this man to answer.

MR. DYMOND: That he can name, Your Honor.

MR. ALCOCK: He named two, he does not know if they are alive or dead.

THE COURT: I think the objection is well taken, I can't repeat his testimony, Mr. Dymond, he just gave you the names of two persons.

MR. DYMOND: He gave me two very common Latin names, and if the Court please, there are probably millions of Julians and Manuels.

THE COURT: Just like John and Robert.

MR. ALCOCK: He named some other persons, Your Honor, I don't want to go into.

Q: So you don't know of anybody else you can name who could be called here to confirm that party or meeting, do you, Mr. Russo?

A: No.

Q: Now, Mr. Russo, in the Sciambra memorandum, I take it you know what I am talking about when I refer to it like that?

A: Yes.

Q: In the Sciambra memorandum, you refer to this Leon Oswald as having dirty-blond hair. Do you say that that was an error when that was placed in there?

A: I had made a correction on that yesterday.

Q: Is it your testimony that you never mentioned the description "dirty-blond hair"?

MR. ALCOCK: I object, I am objecting to the question, Mr. Russo from the stand corrected that yesterday.

MR. DYMOND: Certainly I am not deprived of the right to cross-examine.

MR. ALCOCK: Not over and over the same subject.

Q: Is it your testimony that in your conversation with Mr. Sciambra on the 25th of February in Baton Rouge, 1967, that you never gave the description "dirty-blond hair"?

A: Well, yesterday when I was correcting the memorandum, I think I said that the impression I gave to Sciambra in Baton Rouge, said he was a dirty beatnik style, I don't think I mentioned hair color, though I might have, it was probably toward the brown side, I don't think I could have said dirty-blond, although that would make it brown.

Q: You are saying you did not mention hair color at all or the dirty blond is incorrect, an incorrect relation of what you said with respect to hair?

A: I am saying probably both, but if it -- his hair was messed up, probably was not the color, but I don't think we did, I don't recall that we did go into the color, but if we did it would have been a brownish, of course dirty blond would be synonymous with brown.

Q: If you were asked to describe Leon Oswald's hair at this time, how would you describe it?

A: Brown.

Q: Brown, light brown or dark brown?

A: Oh, just brown.

Q: Just brown. Did you ever tell Mr. Sciambra that the man had a husky beard?

A: I made a correction on that, we talked about the beard, and as far as that word may have come up in trying to pull a word out of the air, trying to get a word to fit it, we never did to this day -- don't have a word because it was not a beard and not whiskers, it was something else, and we had a photo, I had to pull a word out to describe it.

Q: Are you still unable to give us a word to describe the beard?

A: No, but I would be open to suggestion about that.

Q: Would you say it was a bushy beard?

A: No, it was not a bushy beard.

Q: Would you say it was a neat beard?

A: No, it was not a neat beard because it had spots.

MR. ALCOCK: The witness testified, one, it was not a beard, it was something between a beard and a growth of whiskers, he never termed it a beard.

MR. DYMOND: If the Court please, the witness has not testified that there was no beard. I am trying to get him to describe now what kind of beard it was, and by his very testimony he cannot find the adjective for it, he said he is open to suggestion and I am suggesting a few.

MR. ALCOCK: This man testified yesterday, I remember it quite distinctly, he said it appeared to be a growth of whiskers two or three days.

MR. DYMOND: The man is on the stand now, and if the man wants to say that, let him say it.

Q: You would not deny that you described this man as having had a beard, would you, Mr. Russo?

A: On some occasions I have, although that is not the best word for it.

Q: And you still don't know what the best word is?

A: No, but, in other words, probably, and you have seen probably some people in town that have just long beards, that to me is a full beard, and they have this beard that Mr. Plotkin has which would not be it again, and that is not it either, it is just a growth, it could be called a beard and there were spots on it where it just -- he didn't grow hair.

Q: Would it be incorrect in terming that an unkept beard?

A: That would be it.

Q: That would be about as close as you could get?

A: Three or four days' growth.

Q: Now, you feel fairly confident in saying that this was at least a three or four-day growth of beard. Is that correct?

A: Oh, well, I mean, I can't really tell how long it was, that would be a good statement that I probably would stand by.

Q: Now, was the beard the same color as the hair that the man had, or was it darker?

A: It seems to be a little bit, just didn't seem to be the same as the hair.

Q: Now, just what difference would you describe as between the two, which one was darker and which one lighter?

A: I am not sure, I am not real sure on that, but it didn't appear to be the same as the hair.

Q: The beard?

A: It was not, in other words, it was not a fake beard, I didn't think, it could have been -- I mean, it just did not appear to be the same color.

Q: The beard, did it have any traces of white in it?

A: Of white, gray hair? Maybe, I don't think so, there were spots of white.

Q: Did the sideburns extend into the beard?

A: Well, it was a messed-up appearance, I don't really recall whether the sideburns did or not, or whether it was just messed up.

Q: Now, Mr. Russo, with regard to your testimony that you saw Mr. Shaw at the filling station on Veterans Highway, and with particular reference to the Sciambra memorandum, and more particularly at the top of Page 3 of this memorandum --

A: Page 3?

Q: Right, you are going to have to go back to the previous page.

A: Page 2.

Q: Where the memorandum reflects that you saw Mr. Shaw in the Veterans Highway filling station some six months after a date in 1962, which would place it well before the mid-September meeting that you have described --

A: On Page 1 or Page 2 now?

Q: Page 2, running into Page 3, if you would read Page 2 you will get the continuity of it, six months from 1962, do you see what I am referring to now?

A: Yes, I have about what you are talking about, yes.

Q: I take it that you agree that this memorandum indicates that your seeing Shaw at the Veterans Highway filling station occurred well before mid-September of '63?

A: Yes, I said that I was wrong, I thought -- my initial recollection was that it was in 1962.

Q: In other words, the error you attribute to yourself rather than to the author of the memorandum?

A: The date, the date of it.

Q: Now, referring to the testimony in the preliminary hearing wherein you state that your seeing Mr. Shaw in the Veterans Highway filling station occurred after President Kennedy was assassinated.

A: Right.

Q: Is that the statement to which you subscribe at this time?

A: My initial recollection in Baton Rouge with Sciambra was that it was '62, and then I thought about it later on and then I told him it was '64, I think the early part of '64 or the middle of '64.

Q: So then on that event you have roughly a two-year error in your judgment as to when you saw Mr. Shaw on Veterans Highway. Is that correct?

A: On Veterans Highway, approximately.

Q: When did you discover that you were wrong about that?

A: When did I discover that I was wrong?

Q: Yes.

A: I am not real sure of when.

Q: Had you ever seen the Sciambra memorandum before coming to Court as a witness in the present trial of this case?

A: James Phelan showed it to me in Baton Rouge.

Q: Did you note that in the Sciambra memorandum when Phelan showed it to you?

A: '62, yes, -- I am not sure whether he had asked the question or not, but it was an error at that time because that was after the preliminary hearing, and after the preliminary hearing, you know, he came up the 18th or 20th of March, and he did point out some errors in it, or apparent contradictions, and I don't know if he pointed that out or not, but if he would have, I would have cleared that up for him.

Q: In other words, you are testifying now that you do not know whether in reviewing this memorandum with Mr. Phelan you pointed that out as an error. Is that correct?

A: If he asked me about it, I am sure I did, but it had been corrected by my testimony under the preliminary hearing which was a week before, or four or five days before.

Q: Mr. Russo, isn't it a fact that in your conversation with Mr. Sciambra wherein this memorandum was reviewed by the two of you, that you pointed out only a couple of minor, practical typographical errors and had a slight discussion with him on the question of how many times you had seen Mr. Shaw?

A: What are you talking about?

Q: When Sciambra reviewed the memorandum with you in Baton Rouge --

MR. ALCOCK: Objection.

Q: Mr. Phelan, not Mr. Sciambra.

A: That was the -- he only pointed out a couple of things that he felt were apparent contradictions, and the major one was this twice as opposed to three times, if he would have gone down and -- word for word, we would have found by your count 26 notations.

Q: Isn't it a fact that he let you read the memorandum at that time and asked you to point out every error you claimed existed in it?

A: It is a fact we talked about three hours with the exception of a half hour in there, and during that period of time we talked quite a bit about the preliminary hearing, we talked about several other odds and ends of things that I knew and that are not important to the case, and then finally he said, "I want to show you this memorandum," and this was Sciambra's, and there are some errors, and I did not read it from start to finish, we had been there for two and a half or three hours, the District Attorney's Office had notified me he was coming up, and he did have this one word "twice" underlined or circled and underlined, and an arrow drawn to the side, and that is what I thumbed through and looked at it and he said, "Does everything seem correct," and I said, "Well, with some exceptions," I said essentially it seems some of these things we talked about in Baton Rouge, I said there were a few errors, and he said what about this, and he pointed out a couple of things like that, the big thing to him was that "twice." He said, "What about this," and I said, "Well, that was an error on Sciambra's part," I said, "He kept very few notes in Baton Rouge."

Q: It's your testimony then when you met with Mr. Phelan in Baton Rouge, that you did not read the entire Sciambra memorandum?

A: Word for word, absolutely not.

Q: Now, Mr. Russo, to your knowledge, when did you first call to anyone's attention that there was a two-year error on your estimate as to when you said you had seen Mr. Shaw on Veterans Highway in the Sciambra memorandum?

A: I am not sure when I first saw this memorandum. Now, this is Sciambra's memorandum, and you could probably ask him when this -- he first showed it to me, but I am not real sure because I really didn't -- this was something that was in the background.

Q: Do you remember having called that two-year error to anyone's attention prior to yesterday?

A: Prior to yesterday, oh, sure.

Q: When?

A: Well, I called it to Phelan's attention back in '67, for one, I am sure that I had discussions with the District Attorney's Office, but I could not say exactly when, because that was just an error, initially when Sciambra came up he sat down with his briefcase and we talked for two hours, and after we finished he wanted to rush back and talk to Garrison, and we didn't have the greatest amount of time, so I don't know exactly when this memorandum was drawn up, on Monday, I think, the 27th, I don't even know when I saw it first, I know Phelan had a copy of it.

Q: Now, you testified just a moment ago that you were sure you called this to Mr. Phelan's attention.

A: Absolutely.

Q: Now, would that be during this meeting with you in Baton Rouge or during one of several other meetings that he had with you?

A: This was in Baton Rouge, I am sure we perhaps brought it up again in Baton Rouge, but he was up there for one night and that was it, and in New Orleans it was for several nights.

Q: It is your positive testimony that you did call that two-year discrepancy to the attention of James Phelan in Baton Rouge?

A: I didn't say it was a two-year discrepancy, I told him it was an error. Now, 1962, if he asked me about '62, yes, I told him, I might definitely -- I told him twice versus the three times, twice was the error on Sciambra's part for reasons I don't know, I made that clear to Sciambra, that was one of the reasons he asked me if I could come to New Orleans the following Monday, on the 27th. As far as the 1962, was concerned, if he asked me about it, because we didn't go over this word for word, I picked it up, he said, "Here, are you familiar with it," and I think I was familiar with it at that time, I had probably seen it before, and so I went down the line on it, not every page and not every word.

Q: When was it that you had a discussion with David Ferrie on Bourbon Street concerning his seeing Al Landry?

A: I will say 1961 or 1962.

Q: 1961 or 1962?

A: Yes.

Q: Would I be fair in saying late '61 or early '62?

A: Well, yes, you asked that yesterday, and I am not sure, you could probably ask Policeman Jano because he was the one that was involved with that particular case.

Q: Now, in this Sciambra memorandum, you relate the seeing of Mr. Shaw on Veterans Highway to the incident on Bourbon Street with David Ferrie, saying it was about six months after that that you saw Mr. Shaw on Veterans Highway. Is this entire relationship invalid, or what?

A: No, I don't relate anything, that is Sciambra's relationship there. I don't have anything to do with relating that together, and, secondly, as I was attempting to give some sort of continuity to him in Baton Rouge, when I said 1962, that was a flat error on my part, and which later on was corrected, and I am willing to admit it was an error, but as far as the words, I did not write those down.

Q: But when you say 1962 now, in connection with your dispute with Ferrie on Bourbon Street, that is not an error, is it, 1961 or 1962?

A: 1962?

Q: Yes.

A: Now, Landry went into the Air Force in '62, I think, and it was probably -- I don't, I have a tendency to say it was '61 more than '62, but I am not real sure.

Q: The statement that the seeing of Mr. Shaw on Veterans Highway was six months after the Bourbon Street incident with Ferrie, is that the part that is in error?

A: On the Veterans Highway, yes.

Q: Do you have any way of explaining that error, I mean, was it your error, Sciambra's error, or how did it come about?

A: Well, I was trying to give him some sort of continuity or understanding as to people he wanted names of, friends of mine, where did I know these people and these photographs, things of that sort, and I was attempting to give him some sort of a continuity on this thing, and when he wrote this memorandum, Monday, I think, and of course that is his concern there, he did not keep a great amount of notes, that is probably where the error came from, but he did keep just a legal pad, and he kept some scribbling on that.

Q: As a matter of fact, he took quite a few notes on the legal pad, didn't he, Mr. Russo?

A: I would not say so, no, I would not say quite a few.

Q: He had addresses and phone numbers and names which were rather difficult to spell, is that correct?

A: Well, Kershenstine is a name that is difficult to spell, but how many pages of notes do you have on that top pad, on your handwritten pad, please?

Q: Oh, I have quite --

A: You have a bunch of them, eight or ten, he did not kept eight or ten, he did not.

Q: How many did he keep?

A: Maybe a couple of pages, maybe a page, maybe two or three pages.

Q: You don't know how many pages he kept?

A: I do know that he did take notes or just very rarely scribbled on a piece of paper, on the yellow legal pad, but how much that eventually was, I could not see more than a page, two and a half or maybe three at the most.

Q: Did you ever see these notes Mr. Sciambra took?

A: No.

Q: But you are able to tell approximately how many notes or what quantity of notes he took. Is that right?

A: If I could use a pen and pencil, I will show you something. In other words, this is what he did, he sat there with his briefcase on his knees like this, he had a yellow pad of paper there and 20 or 30 photographs or how many photographs he had here, a couple of books underneath that, and, well, this is what he did, I mean, Sergio Acacha, and it was big handwriting, and he would take up this line and Tim Kershenstine, 943849, stuff like that, and he probably went on the second page, but I was not even watching, he did not stand there and copy about ten or 12 pages, and every word I said he didn't copy down.

Q: In other words, Mr. Russo, the notes that you saw Mr. Sciambra take would not have revealed the content of what you told him. Is that right, they were not sufficient?

A: That is what I would say.

Q: Therefore, there would have been no necessity to burn these notes to keep somebody from telling what you had told Mr. Sciambra?

MR. ALCOCK: Objection, Your Honor, this matter is not in evidence.

THE COURT: I believe you are assuming an answer that has not as yet been given.

MR. DYMOND: We withdraw the question. We are asking that the gun be brought in. Do you want to take a 10:00 o'clock break now?

THE COURT: Yes, now is a good time for a break.

(Whereupon, a brief recess was taken.)


Back to the top





Back to Shaw trial testimony

Search trial database chronologically

Additional resources on the trial of Clay Shaw


Search this site
    powered by FreeFind

Back to JFK menu

Dave Reitzes home page