The Clay Shaw preliminary hearing testimony of Perry Raymond Russo (continued)
(Let the record show that Court resumed in session.)
EXAMINATION BY MR. GARRISON:
Q. Let's go back to that scene which you were describing after the others had left the party in which you were talking with the three other men that you mentioned; will you now tell us what you can recall as to what Leon Oswald said during that conversation?
A. Oswald took part, he seemed to be detached, you know, and he did not seem to be part of the conversation as such, and he took part in the conversation concerning the availability of exit or of exit itself. In other words, exit out of the country, and Dave Ferrie had been talking concerning where and what stops. In other words, there would be a stop in Mexico and then on to Brazil or from where the assassination was, directly into Cuba, and he had been disagreed with by Mr. Bertrand in concerning, you know, whether or not it was feasible at all to go to Mexico because of the instantaneous nature of news coverage, and then Oswald jumped into the conversation and said, "Shut up and leave him alone." He said he knows what he is talking about, he is the pilot. He talked to Bertrand about that and then Bertrand said that as far as he was concerned, he was a washed-up pilot. He had been fired by Eastern Airlines or something for Eastern Airlines.
Q. Did Ferrie say anything about that?
A. Not to my recollection.
Q. Continue as to what you remember?
A. He offered, Ferrie in turn offered an alternate solution, and the alternate solution was that those three people there were, should be in the public eye on the day of the assassination, and being in the public eye, he meant, he explained it, just be around a lot of people, that they can testify later on that they had seen you on a certain, certain day at a certain and certain time [sic] and make sure of that. He said that would be the alternative.
Q. All right, go ahead?
A. And during that, Ferrie said he could make a speech at Southeastern and Bertrand said, well, he could go on business if they chose that. I don't know if that was chosen or not.
Q. Business where?
A. With his company on the West Coast.
Q. What did Oswald say, if anything?
A. He never said anything at that point. He never said whether he would go anywhere or not.
Q. Do you recall seeing Leon Oswald on any other occasions?
A. I had seen him on perhaps two other occasions after that.
A. Both of them up at Dave Ferrie's apartment.
Q. Would you tell us the circumstances under which you saw him?
A. One was toward the end of the month of September, and he, I walked in, I just came barging in and he had had, he was having an argument at that time with Ferrie, not an argument, but they had some words.
Q. Go ahead?
A. Well, the conversation centered around -- evidently Oswald was having trouble with his wife or something to that effect, and he said that she was mad and, you know, he had to do something, and Dave said, "Don't worry about it, I will handle it, just calm down," and I excused myself and said, "I will see you later, Dave."
Q. What was Oswald's attitude towards you?
A. Well, from the very beginning when I first met him, he didn't take a liking to me, nor I to him.
Q. How did he express his dislike of you?
A. The first time I came into Dave Ferrie's apartment that he had this man at the time that he was there --
Q. Who was there?
A. Dave Ferrie and Leon Oswald.
Q. And who else?
A. That was all.
Q. This was the first time?
A. Yes, sir. And so, I walked in and I was introduced, Dave introduced me to Leon as his friend who lived on Elysian Fields, and Oswald made a crack about me, you know, not wanting me up there or something to Dave, and I told Dave that I would rather leave. I told him that I don't know this guy, and I would rather go, I don't know this guy. I told this to Dave in private. I don't know what he was out for and he seemed disturbed by the fact that I was there.
Q. Going back to the occasion when you were there with Leon Oswald, as you knew him, Ferrie, and Bertrand, did anybody, was any expression made at any time with regard to your presence there?
A. Well, when I first walked in, you know, there was a bunch of noise and Dave right away saw me, and he proceeded to make introductions, you know, that this is so and so and all of that.
May I ask if this is the occasion of the alleged party that the witness is talking about?
I don't know. I imagine we are going to give you an opportunity for extensive cross examination.
EXAMINATION BY MR. GARRISON:
Q. On this occasion -- I am asking you to go back to the time of the party, and tell us the attitude of those other three people after the party, what it was towards your presence?
A. At the party everybody was talking and stuff, drinking beer, and stuff like that, drinking beer, and then people began to leave, and then I was left with three people other than myself, and I didn't have a ride at that time.
Q. Who were the three that you were left with?
A. Bertrand, Oswald and Ferrie and myself.
Q. By Bertrand, you mean the defendant here?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Go ahead?
A. And we sat around and I was waiting for a ride to come back, which, you know, didn't show up at that moment because I figured there was no telling what time the party would end because we had barged in, you know, just came in, and you know, you cannot tell when it would end. The conversation just was nil and Dave began pacing the floor and talking about Kennedy in general terms, and then Bertrand looked at me and looked at Dave and that was all to that. Then Oswald looked at me and said, "Is he going to stay?" Or, "What's he doing here?" And Dave told them, "He is all right, leave him alone, I know him. He is all right and he doesn't know anything."
Q. Will you tell us what you recall about how those people were dressed at the time?
A. Dave always, generally, the times I have seen him, wore baggy pants and he was in a white shirt, as usual, and baggy pants, and he had on a little general's hat on or something, it was similar to me to be a general's hat, and Oswald was dirty, as usual to me. I only met him one other time before and he was half-shaven.
Q. What kind of shirt did he have on?
A. A pullover, but not a tee shirt. It was some kind of tight-fitting pullover, but it was dirty, but it was not a tee shirt.
Q. What do you mean, half-shaven?
A. Well, he had whiskers, you know, maybe from three or four days' growth, you know. In other words, he was not clean-shaven, had whiskers.
Q. This was on the occasion of the party, you mean?
Q. Can you remember how Bertrand was dressed?
A. Of the people there, he was the only one there dressed, what I felt, decently dressed. He was dressed, no tie but a white shirt and deep, deep maroon or deep red, not bright red. It was a deep reddish, maroonish color.
Q. Deep red what?
Q. Tell us about these other times that you saw Leon Oswald, as you knew him, at this place?
A. I had seen him for the first time a few days before.
Q. And on how many occasions since?
A. Are you referring to after the party?
A. I saw him on two occasions after the party.
Q. Tell us about what you saw when you saw Leon Oswald?
A. Well, one time was toward the end of the month, and I just walked in and Dave and he were arguing, or had bitterness, something about Leon's wife, you know, her being mad, and Dave said, "Don't worry about it, I will handle it, just calm down, be quiet, I will handle it." That was all, and I left. I sort of excused myself.
Q. What was he doing?
A. Well, he was upset, you know.
A. Yes, sir.
Q. All right; what was he doing; was he reading a book, eating, what was he doing, was he doing anything?
A. No, they were standing up talking when I walked in because I had to walk up the steps, and generally speaking, if Dave's car was there, the door was open.
Q. Just conversation?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Let's go back to the first occasion; what do you recall seeing Oswald doing on the first occasion?
A. On the first occasion, that was when I first walked in, and he was either polishing or cleaning or wiping a rifle.
Q. A what?
A. A rifle.
Q. What kind of a rifle?
A. Just a rifle, a bolt action. I knew that because I had had one myself.
Q. Do you know what other kinds of rifles there are as opposed to bolt action?
A. My brother had an automatic, I think. That is, it loads itself. I am not sure. I am no authority on guns, you know.
Q. Do you recall whether or not the rifle had a sight on it or whether it was without a sight?
A. It had a sight on it for hunting. That is what I took it for, for hunting.
Q. For the record, this gun has been marked S-14, and Mr. Russo, I show you a rifle with a telescopic sight which has been marked, S-14, and I want you to look at it and tell me the different ways in which this may be or may not be similar to the gun you observed Leon Oswald with; start with the sight and the different parts of the gun and tell us what similarities you may or may not see?
A. Now, the first difference, if it were a difference, I don't know, I did not get a real good look at it. I just sat and watched him polish it, clean it. That was it. He had a few words with Dave about me and I had a few words with Dave about him.
Q. Go ahead?
A. The difference that my mind strikes, thinking back to it, is this end of the sight was not nearly as bubble-shaped as it is. It seemed to be straight all the way out. It is approximately the same type of gun, I guess.
Q. So we can say, can we not, that Leon Oswald had a gun with a smaller sight?
A. At this point, about the same length as this, but this was not bubble, a big barrel like this is. It was either of a wooden nature or a plastic nature, this part, the heavy part, and it had the same mechanism here, the bolt.
Q. Is that the type of action you meant by bolt action?
Q. So when you say bolt action, that is the type of action that the rifle that Leon Oswald had?
Q. On the other hand, he had a smaller sight?
A. At this point I don't know about lengthwise, but at this point it was not fat like this.
Q. You mean in the front?
A. Yes, sir, right here.
Q. What about the similarity or dissimilarity of the color of the stock?
A. Well, this is a polished, in my opinion, this is a polished brown. As I recollect, it was a dull brown, unpolished, I don't know.
Q. Would you say that it seemed to be as big a gun as this one or was it smaller?
A. It was about the same size lengthwise, because he was sitting down on the sofa, cleaning it or polishing it when I first walked in, and he had his foot kicked up like this. He was just rubbing on it.
Q. When you saw Leon Oswald with the rifle which you saw him with, this was the first time you saw him?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Now, I want to ask you if you can recall the last time you saw Leon Oswald at David Ferrie's apartment?
A. He was leaving. He was leaving Dave at that time.
Q. Did they say what part of the country he was leaving for?
I object to this, Your Honor, on the grounds it is hearsay testimony.
As between whom?
He is speaking now of a conversation which took place out of the presence of the defendant.
Your Honor, I submit at this particular juncture that since this date is after the date of the party in which the alleged conspiracy took place, it now becomes words of a co-conspirator and they are admissible.
If the Court please, in answer to that argument, RS 15:455 requires that a conspiracy be proven before such evidence is admissible. Now, you would have to find, as a matter of fact, that a conspiracy has been shown. Once you do that, if you do that, and this testimony is introduced at a subsequent trial, this very finding by Your Honors would constitute a comment on the evidence. Actually, Article 455 is practically unworkable for that reason.
Defense counsel is trying to handcuff the Court. The Court is merely following the rules of evidence established by the Legislature of this State.
We would also like to object on the basis of the ruling of the Supreme Court of United States versus Melerine, which was reported in 109 Southern 2d, 471, basing our objection on the proposition that the alleged co-conspirator must be charged in order for there to be a relaxation of the hearsay rule.
Didn't the Supreme Court sustain the conviction of Melerine?
Yes, sir, they did, saying this, that since Carlo P. Guido was jointly charged, his recorded conversations with the State witness were admissible, but the whole thing was predicated on the fact that he was jointly charged.
Is the matter submitted?
To which ruling we would like to reserve a bill, making all the testimony, the entire record, all the proceedings, counsel's objection, the ruling of the Court, particularly the testimony of this witness, parts of the bill. If the Court please, we will ask that this bill apply to all such testimony.
Motion is granted.
EXAMINATION BY MR. GARRISON:
Q. Perry, will you tell us whether or not you ever saw Mr. Bertrand on any other occasions?
A. I had seen him prior to September of 1963; yes, sir.
Q. Where had you seen him prior to September 1963?
A. Well, at that time I was at school and President Kennedy was coming down to make a speech to dedicate the Nashville Wharf, and I went over there to see him, as I had never seen a President before. So, I went over there and at that time I saw Mr. Bertrand, but I did not know his name.
Q. You are sure it was the defendant here?
A. I am absolutely sure.
Q. But you did not know his name at that time?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You are saying at that time you did not know his name, is that correct?
A. I did not know him either, you see.
Q. Can you recall what Mr. Bertrand was doing?
A. Well, I had gotten there what I thought was late and so, I was in the back, inside the wharf, the warehouse. I was towards the back and President Kennedy arrived with the motorcade and drove up the incline and began making a speech in a few minutes. At that time I was looking at the President. That is the reason I took note of Mr. Bertrand.
Q. What do you mean that is the reason you took note of him?
A. Well, because very few people at the President thing were not looking at the President and he was not looking at the President. He was one of the few and to a friend of mine at that time I said that he had to be a Secret Service man.
Q. Because he was not looking at the President?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. On what other occasions, if any, did you see Mr. Bertrand?
A. I saw him in 1964, and this --
Q. Do you remember where?
A. Yes, sir, at a place where Dave was working or owned.
Q. At a place where who was working?
A. Dave Ferrie, where he was working or owned the place. I don't know which.
Q. What kind of place?
A. A gasoline station on Veterans Highway.
Q. Tell us about the incident?
A. Well, I had had car trouble and I drove in and two young boys came up and wanted to fix the car, you know, asked me what was wrong with the car and I told them. They said to move the car over here and I moved it out of the way of the pumps so I would not be blocking the pumps for business. And then Dave came over and said, "Hello, how you been doing, haven't seen you in a good while." So I said, "All right." He said, "Well, I may come on over some day," you know, to my house, and I said, "OK," and then I sat down, went back to my car and waited because I was in a rush. At that time Dave went back to a car, in which I knew his name at that time, in which Mr. Bertrand was seated.
Q. Dave went back to the car where Bertrand was seated in?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What kind of a car was it?
A. It was a compact, a small car, American, white or -- I would say white.
Q. What color?
A. White. I would say white.
Q. How far away were you from it when you looked at Mr. Bertrand?
A. The boys told me to move it out of the way and I pulled up about five foot to the right of the car. In other words, they were parked about the same place I was except they were five foot to my left. And so, I sat in the car and waited for the boys to fix it and I had an occasion to make a few remarks to Dave about one thing or another.
Q. How many feet would you say you were from Mr. Bertrand?
A. Maybe ten feet, allowing for the distance of the car.
Q. Could you see him clearly?
A. Yes, sir, because I made it a point to talk to Dave and I stopped after a while because I felt that I was being rude and I had occasion to look out of my car because I was sitting with the door open anyway, and I had occasion to look out of my car to the side and say something to Dave, and Dave had to turn this way to talk to me, and in doing so, the man he was talking to was sitting this way in the car, like this, and I had occasion to see from here on up.
Q. And who was this man he was talking to?
A. The man I had met at his apartment about six months or eight months before.
Q. Bertrand? That is the defendant in the Courtroom?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you have any other occasion since then to ever see the defendant before he came in the Courtroom today?
A. I had occasion when I came down to New Orleans at the request of the District Attorney's office and I had an occasion to see him at his home, at least, what I thought was his home.
Q. Do you remember where the place was that you thought was his home?
A. On Dauphine Street by Esplanade.
Q. How close did you get to the entrance?
A. What had happened, we waited in the car for maybe about two hours and he never came out because they asked me if I could pick out the man and I said I could.
Q. Who was that?
A. There were several members of the District Attorney's staff with me.
Q. You mean my staff?
A. Yes, sir. They had asked me if --
I object to any conversations which took place between this witness and a member of the District Attorney's staff outside the presence of this defendant.
We are not interested in the conversation.
EXAMINATION BY MR. GARRISON:
Q. Perry, just tell us what you did?
A. I waited in the car for about an hour, an hour and a half, and Mr. Bertrand had one occasion to come out, and he only stuck his head out. One of his friends were leaving.
Q. Then what did you do?
A. I said to them, "That is the man, I am sure of it." And they wouldn't accept it. They said make sure of it.
Q. You are talking about my staff?
A. Yes, sir. They said they wouldn't accept it, you know. Not that they doubted it, but --
I object on the grounds of hearsay.
EXAMINATION BY MR. GARRISON:
Q. Just tell us what you did?
A. Then I suggested to them, then I asked if I could go to his house and impersonate a Mutual of Omaha man and attempt to make a survey about insurance, which I did, with the assistance of a man who was also a member of your staff, and he came out and I talked to him maybe two minutes, or a minute and a half, and just general questions about insurance and he indicated to me that he had Blue Cross coverage.
Q. Who is he?
A. Mr. Bertrand. Mr. "X" at that time. I never called him any names. I just said I was a man making a survey about insurance and I said we would like to ask you some questions and he said he had company at that time, he could not sit down and talk about it. He said he had Blue Cross coverage and he said he was covered adequately. I asked him if he would mind if I contacted him at a later date to perhaps get together at nighttime and discuss it further. So, he said that would be fine with him, but not at this time. So he closed the door and I walked off.
Q. Now, at that time, did you have the feeling that you had seen him before or that you had never seen him before?
A. I was absolutely sure I had seen him before.
A. At Dave Ferrie's apartment and also at the Nashville Wharf.
Q. Do you see him here in the Courtroom today?
Q. Will you point him out again?
A. Yes, sir. (Witness pointing to the defendant, Mr. Shaw.)
At this time may we ask for a few minutes recess so we may get our notes in order?
We will have a five-minute recess.
(Court in session.)
At this time we have three motions for writs of subpoena duces tecum which we would like to file. The State has been furnished with copies of each of them.
These are three separate ones?
Yes. If I might suggest it, Mr. Oliver Carriere, Jr., will be happy to facilitate the Sheriff in your orders on these writs.
Your Honors, the State's position in this matter is I don't know when these motions were drawn up, but Mr. Russo took the stand before lunch and the State feels that these writs are being rather tardily filed. I notice here one of these writs are addressed to the General Electric Credit Corporation. I don't recall this witness testifying any time he worked for General Electric Corporation. Therefore, I think it would be safe to assume that the defense knew of the State's position and the State's witness, and this is an attempt to get this hearing prolonged and the State objects, unless the returns can be made within a reasonable time. It is already early afternoon and I doubt whether or not these can be served and a return be made on these, say, for five o'clock this afternoon.
Well, I am going to order them returned instanta, if my colleagues will join me.
In answer to Mr. Alcock, I would state for the record that we heard numerous rumor[s] who the State would produce as a witness, but it was not until this witness, Russo, took the stand that we knew he would be a witness. Consequently, these motions were prepared during the recess and they are being filed at the earliest practical moment.
Mark these filed. We have agreed that we will honor your request.
Before the Court adjourns may we ask that the witness, Russo, be brought into Court and instructed by the Court to the effect that he is under the Rule and should speak to no one concerning this case until tomorrow morning.
He can talk to his attorneys. The witness will be instructed that he can speak with his attorneys and even you if you decide you want to approach him. He has a right to have present with him whoever he wants to if you attempt to approach him. The witness is bound by the guidelines. I certainly don't want this witness to go out and give some press interviews today. Let the witness, Russo, be brought in.
(Let the record show that the witness, Russo, was brought back into the Courtroom.)
You are instructed, Mr. Russo, not to discuss your testimony with anyone except the attorneys in the case, and you are entitled to have your own counsel with you at all times. We don't want you to give out any press interviews or television interviews, releases, between now and the time you return to Court. Upon the request from counsel, we are going to adjourn until tomorrow morning. There is a little bit of discussion between us, because we are interested in expediting the case, but we feel that in the interest of justice to all, that justice will be best done if we honor your request and adjourn until tomorrow at ten o'clock. Now, we have ordered that the subpoenas be returned instanta. Mr. Carriere, we want to amend our order to that effect and make the subpoenas returnable tomorrow morning at ten o'clock AM. Let's make them nine-thirty so counsel can have an opportunity to read them before we convene at ten o'clock.
(Court adjourned until tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM.)
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