The Clay Shaw preliminary hearing testimony of Perry Raymond Russo (continued)
(Court in session.)
PERRY RAYMOND RUSSO, after being recalled, and after having previously been sworn by the Minute Clerk, testified as follows:
EXAMINATION BY MR. DYMOND:
Q. Russo, in your testimony before the recess, you stated that Dave Ferrie was spectacular; would you please tell us what you meant by that?
A. Well, when he talked to everyone or when he talked to me, he made great claims of things he had done in the past or was doing now, and he was just now -- I would argue with him in certain instances, and I would say, well, I have read something before, and I said, well, that does not go to what I read, and he would cite me chapter in verse [sic] of a book, and he would say to go down to the library and look up the 1947 edition of Rositor's manual on something; well, I got to the point where I did not challenge him on anything. Everything that I knew he knew too, I felt, and he seemed to be extremely smart, and things he did was spectacular nature [sic]. He could either talk a big game or play a big game.
Q. This is the characteristic when you referred that he was spectacular, is that right?
A. Either in word or fact.
Q. I show you a photograph which has been marked for identification by the State as Exhibit S-1, and I ask you whether you recognize this photograph, and if so, who is it?
A. Yes, sir, this is Leon Oswald.
Q. Is that the man to whom you referred in your testimony?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. I now show you another photograph marked for identification as State-10, and I ask you identify that photograph? [sic]
A. That is Dave Ferrie.
Q. The same Dave Ferrie to whom you have referred in your testimony, is that right?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. I now show you a reproduction of a photograph marked for identification as State-2, and I ask you whether you are to identify that photograph?
A. This photograph I can identify.
Q. Is that the one appearing on the left?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. As what would you identify that photograph?
A. It was the same photograph I was shown earlier by Mr. Garrison.
Q. Do you recognize the parties in that photograph?
A. I recognize one person.
Q. As whom?
A. The middle man as Leon Oswald.
Q. Is that the same Oswald you have testified you knew here in New Orleans?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Referring to the photograph on the right-hand side of this reproduction, I ask you whether you are able to identify the name of the parties in that photograph?
A. It looks to me as the same, the same people in the left photograph.
Q. It does?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Which one would you say in the right-hand photograph is Leon Oswald?
A. In this photograph?
Q. The right-hand photograph, yes?
A. At the time of the assassination, this is a picture I saw -- as Leon Oswald?
Q. Yes, sir.
A. I would not identify any of them as Leon Oswald.
Q. What would you identify any of them as if you are able to identify any of them?
A. I have seen that picture before. Detectives and this is Lee Harvey Oswald, and I am not sure, but I think this is Jack Ruby, and I don't know who the man is behind him.
Q. Now, the man whom you have identified in the center of the right-hand photograph as Lee Harvey Oswald, would you identify him as the same Oswald to whom you had referred in your testimony?
A. Not from the right photograph, no.
Q. You would not?
A. No, sir.
Q. You mean you could not recognize him from that?
A. Well, that is a photograph I saw in New Orleans and I think the one on television, I am not sure, but there are similarities, yes, sir, but I will not go out on the limb, no, sir.
Q. What do you mean, you are not going to go out on a limb; what do you mean by that expression?
A. Well, at that time I had a lot of other things on my mind. One of them was school. It was my senior year, and my mother had died the same year, and school was at that time, it was my last year and I had certain hours I had to get in. Otherwise, I would not be able to graduate. There had been some involvement with the estate earlier during the year, and that left me with a cold hand in any involvement in anything, and then later on during the year when this happened, of course, I was shocked by President Kennedy's death, and I thought about it and I said maybe, maybe not. In other words, I was involved at home, and at that time --
He wants to know what do you mean, by what do you interpret, what your interpretation of the expression, going out on a limb, what does that mean?
Excuse me; I misunderstood the question. I am not going out on a limb. All I mean is that at that time, from that picture, the one I saw in the newspaper, I said that could and could not be, and I was just not willing to say it was the same man.
EXAMINATION BY MR. DYMOND:
Q. When was the first time after the assassination of President Kennedy that you first saw a picture of the man alleged to have assassinated President Kennedy?
A. I don't recall.
Q. You are aware of the fact that a picture of such a man appeared on television regularly right after the assassination, are you not?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Would you say that you, in the normal course of events, watched television after such a national tragedy as that?
A. I am sure I did. Yes, sir.
Q. Therefore, you would not deny that very shortly after President Kennedy was assassinated that you saw on television a picture of the alleged assassin, would you?
A. No, sir.
Q. Did you recognize him?
A. The alleged assassin and the man I know, is that what you are referring to?
Q. Did you recognize the alleged assassin as the man whom you had known?
A. I gave it thought and said it was possibly the man, and I said I am not sure at that time, and then I got involved with other things.
Q. It looked very much like him, didn't it?
A. From the first photograph it didn't. The photograph that you showed me on the right-hand side?
Q. I am talking about on television after the assassination; didn't the television pictures look like him?
A. That is the first photograph I saw of Oswald was that one [sic].
Q. Mr. Witness, I am talking about photographs now; I am asking you whether, upon seeing on television subsequent to the assassination, the picture of the alleged assassin, did you recognize that alleged assassin as the same Oswald whom you say you knew here in New Orleans?
A. To myself I said I was not definite. It was probably the same man, it might not have been. They had different names.
Q. But they both had the same last name, didn't they?
A. They had different names to me.
Q. Did they or did they not both have the same last name?
A. Both had the name Oswald, yes.
Q. And it is your testimony now that you could not recognize any of the pictures of Oswald that you saw on television as being the same man whom you knew as Oswald in New Orleans?
A. It is my testimony that I saw the pictures which you are saying, or at least one of them at that time, and I obviously probably looked at television. I am sure I did. To what pictures I saw on there, I don't know. It crossed my mind they were one and the same, and I thought about it and I gave it some serious thought. Then Oswald was shot, and at that time when he was shot, everybody on television said Oswald was the only man. They found the gun, the FBI was on television, or that was my recollection what was on television and radio and stuff, and they said Oswald had done it, the only man to do it, and so, I said, all right with me.
Q. By what first name did you know the Oswald that you knew here in New Orleans?
Q. What was the first name of the man who was put on television as the assassin of President Kennedy?
A. Lee Harvey.
Q. Did the similarities between the name Leon and Lee strike you or interest you?
A. The names didn't, no. The Oswald name did, of course, and the first name didn't. I was trying to put it together and say yes or no to myself at the time, which I never did do it because he was dead.
Q. Even putting them together, you could not say that you recognized on TV as Lee Harvey Oswald the same man you had known as Leon Oswald here in New Orleans, is that right?
A. Definitely, no. At that time I didn't. Then he died, he was shot, and I just let it pass from my mind. I may have made remarks to that effect, that I think I knew that guy, something to that effect, to friends that were always around the house.
Q. Mr. Russo, you heard the tape played in the Courtroom a few minutes ago?
Q. And you were standing here in Court and heard the playback of the tape of a television interview between you and Jim Kemp in Baton Rouge on February 24th, 1967, did you not hear it?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And did you listen carefully to it?
A. Well, I read along on the lady's pad, of the, you know, of the conversation, and I followed along.
Q. Do you deny or not deny it is a true and faithful transcript of what you said on that occasion?
A. Upon close examination I would accept it.
Q. I am reading to you from page two of this transcript:
"Question, did you ever hear Ferrie make any threatening remarks about President Kennedy?
"Answer, well, during the -- '63, that was an extensive period of time that I knew him, in '62 and '63. Ferrie was obsessed more or less with the idea of Kennedy and what he was doing to Cuba or to Castro, and what Dave Ferrie was -- actually, at any instance coming over to the house. For one thing, I lived on Elysian Fields in New Orleans, and he would come over at night, you know, uncalled, anything like that, as was his habit. And we would talk, and generally speaking, I was a Republican. I was against Kennedy in general, you know, for policies. And that was the opening door and he could elaborate on the issue, and quite frequently, and this is especially during the summer, he talked in general terms, not specifically about Kennedy, about how easy it would be to assassinate a president of the United States because of the fact he was in public view so much and unprotected more or less and there was so many people and the availability of exit and the fact that he could drive a plane to get out of the country, and he used to just posingly, jokingly pose the question that, you know, he and I could do it; you know, just in a joking way, he said it could be done. And that was all of the conversation during the summer."
Now, Mr. Russo, do you deny you said that to Mr. Kemp in Baton Rouge?
A. The essence is about right. Not word for word, I don't know.
Q. Do you deny that is in essence what you told Mr. Kemp in Baton Rouge?
A. I accept it for what it is worth, yes.
Q. Will you tell us why in that interview you said that this was done in a joking way by Ferrie, rather than relating the same story which you have related here in the Courtroom to the effect that there was an actual plot or scheme or conspiracy for the assassination of Kennedy in which Ferrie took place?
A. I understand the reference is being made to summer months as the time by the statement I made there?
Q. That is your reference?
A. You called -- is that during the summer months period?
Q. That is right.
A. Ferrie did jokingly say he could assassinate or we would assassinate or a set of people could theoretically, it could be done very well. I don't make any claims to this minute that there was anything very serious during the summer months except those theoretical discussions which I view them as.
During the month of September, that is another story, a different story altogether. Later on, perhaps during summer, it was during this period of time that things took on a little but different respect.
Q. You don't consider September a summer month?
A. No, sir. The summer months are for baseball.
Let's take a five-minute recess now.
Back to previous Perry Russo testimony
Back to Shaw preliminary hearing menu
Back to Jim Garrison menu
Back to JFK menu
Dave Reitzes home page