The Clay Shaw preliminary hearing testimony of Perry Raymond Russo (continued)



(Court is now in session.)


If the Court please, just during the noon recess we have learned of the existence of another tape recording of an interview with the witness, Russo, and would like to ask the Court whether it will accept from us a verbal motion for a subpoena duces tecum dictated into the record. The man is present in this building who has custody of the tape.


I see no purpose with the subpoena if he is here.


That is right. I want to know if you will excuse us of the necessity of a written motion for a subpoena duces tecum.


We will accept an oral subpoena if he is here. Of course, to expedite the matter, it was my opinion to expedite matters, and we have been letting you take these things out of context and out of sequence, because of the people returning to their respective studios. Now, who do you want?


A Mr. Charles E. Ray, from WTIX, news director of WTIX.


Tell him to stand by.


If the Court will permit, we would like to have this tape in while we still have the opportunity to cross examine the witness, Russo, with respect to the contents of that tape.


We have been departing from the usual rules of procedure of the presentation of evidence. Now, this is your witness, this is your evidence. If the State acquiesces in it, it is one thing, but this is your testimony, this is your witness, this is your evidence. Now to expedite things and facilitate the news media, we have been permitting these things to come out of sequence.


Yes. We appreciate that.


Is that right?




And in other words, we have been, we, and of the course the State has acquiesced, we have been extending you the courtesy on that regard. I don't think as of a right you have any reason to interfere or inject this individual right now. There's nothing to preclude you from interrogating him about this script.


It can be handled in that way, if the Court would prefer.


Mr. Ray, as of this moment on, even though you have not been served with a written subpoena, I don't want you to discuss your testimony with anybody, and stay outside until the further orders of the Court. Any questions?


No, sir.


If you have any tape, preserve the tape, too.

Proceed, Mr. Dymond.

PERRY RAYMOND RUSSO, after being recalled to the witness stand, testified as follows:


Q. Mr. Russo, other than the three times that you have told us you were hypnotized by Dr. Fatter, have you ever been hypnotized other than that?

A. No, sir.

Q. Do you know much about hypnotism?

A. I have read a little about it.

Q. Have you ever hypnotized anybody yourself?

A. I have tried. It is a matter of degree. I am not sure.

Q. How long ago was that, sir?

A. After I seen Dave Ferrie do it. Sometimes afterwards.

Q. You had never tried it until you saw Dave Ferrie do it, is that right?

A. Well, I may have before that, but I don't really recall. I may have.

Q. Have you ever taken any courses in it or received any special instructions in hypnotism?

A. No, sir.

Q. Would that cover correspondence courses or anything of that nature?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. So, you would say then you have no special knowledge or learning in the field of hypnotism?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Now, getting back to the four-man meeting which you have described in the apartment of David Ferrie in mid-September of 1963, did you say that triangulation was stressed in the discussion that took place there?

A. It was discussed, yes, sir.

Q. Now, just what was your understanding of what was meant by triangulation?

A. Well, I have to back up a little bit to explain how Dave once mentioned, not that, but something like that before. He told me during the summer months that he made a point of reference about the President of Mexico and President Eisenhower. I think he was in New Orleans at the sesquicentennial or something, and he said that a woman, I think it was a woman, had gotten as close [sic] to the automobile of President Eisenhower before she was stopped. She was able to open her purse. She ran up to the automobile and was able to open her purse, and he said that if the person did not have any respect for his own life, it would be very easy to kill the President. In other words, if he did not care what happened to him afterwards, if a woman could get that close, and then he went on later on and he said, suppose there was a group of people listening to the President of Mexico, I think he used, I don't recall the name, but suppose there were a group of people sitting, watching the President speak, and he said, and you had two people to shoot the President or shoot the speaker, he said then under the circumstances, he said that the first, in the back of the group, would be a man who would just fire a shot and then the impact of the firing of a shot would cause everyone to look around. In that split second, either a split second or a fraction of a second later, the front man, unguarded, because everyone is looking in the back, then would make the necessary shot to do the job. Now, he did not talk about anything at all about exits or anything like that. And then at the meeting, Ferrie walked and paced a little bit and he had a tendency to throw his hands up, making the point of the necessity for triangulation fire.


Show the Court what you mean by that.


This is the way he said. He said necessity to have triangulation fire [sic]. He said that although, and perhaps it was not clear yesterday or the other day, although all three would be firing at the President, then this man, now, it could have been any of these three, but I pulled this one, this man would have of necessity, have to be sacrificed to allow these two to go free, or he said, that these two would have to be sacrificed to allow this one to go free. Now, there was a cross fire, so to speak, and I call it a triangulation cross fire, and he called it a triangulation of fire or something to that effect, or maybe he said triangular cross fire. And he went on further saying that, which I don't think I cleared up yesterday or the day before, that all three would be firing at the President. In other words, the first time I mentioned this man just firing in the air and this one in the front of the auditorium firing at the President. Well, it was not the case here. All three men were going to fire at the President, but this man was going to be sacrificed, or these two were going to be sacrificed. Now, he never did say three of them would be, but he said this one or these two, and that is about it.

Q. If all three would be firing at the President, what was going to determine which two of the three would be sacrificed?

A. He did not really cover that. He said someone would have to be the scapegoat.

Q. He did not say who?

A. No, sir.

Q. Was it discussed which of the three would be the scapegoat?

A. No, sir.

Q. And you were not supposed to take any part in this, is that right?

A. No, sir.

Q. According to the plan you heard formulated, who was to take part of it?

A. They never did name names. Just that these three people were discussing that, and they did not place anyone in any individual roles or whether he would be here, or here, or here. They did not do that.

Q. Was it understood that these three men would actively participate in the assassination?

A. I did not get that impression, no.

Q. What, to the best of your recollection, was said by Oswald during the formation of this plan?

A. Well, the only thing I can recall was that he had an argument with Bertrand about something Ferrie had said. There was a little bit of a dispute. Ferrie did most of the talking. About what Ferrie said, it was not about this triangulation. It was sometime later, they were discussing leaving the country, exit of country, availability of exit. That was the way it was, and they were discussing that.

Q. You don't remember anything Oswald said then?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Well, what?

A. Ferrie said that after the shots were fired, he said that the diversionary man, the man that was going to be sacrificed, would take all the brunt of the police and everybody, would give the others enough time to leave the country, and then they would fly, he said that you could either fly to Mexico and then refuel and then fly on to Brazil, or you could fly directly to Cuba, but if you fly directly to Cuba, the people down there, although they knew or had heard about an assassination, might not know who this plan was [sic] and in that instance they might get shot then. And at that point Bertrand got up and said -- I don't know if he actually got up, but he did get into an argument with Ferrie about this, saying that no way in the world could they go down to Mexico and stop. He said that was impossible because the Mexican authorities would not, under any circumstances, let a plane leave or anything coming in [sic] that had no flight plans, or that no one knew was coming, would not let that plane leave.

Q. Now, was it understood in this discussion that Ferrie was to leave the country?

A. They didn't say one thing or another about that.

Q. Was it understood that Oswald was to leave the country?

A. They didn't say anything about that.

Q. And I understand, Russo, that you stood there during this entire three-way conversation, and you uttered not one word?

A. No, sir.

Q. Well, what did you say?

A. Well, every once in a while I got up and walked on the porch to see if my ride was there. I said, "Excuse me." I am not sure what I said, but I said something like that.

Q. Now, who were you expecting to come pick you up?

A. Well, there was a friend of mine at that time, either him or Dave would give me a ride, and I had missed him earlier.

Q. What friend of yours?

A. Lefty Peterson.

Q. You looked to see if Lefty was coming back, is that right?

A. Well, I was becoming irritable, you know, I wasn't in a part of the conversation. It was their business, and I wasn't particularly interested.

Q. Didn't you testify yesterday that some of the people with whom you had a ride at that party left, and you decided to stay there, hoping that Ferrie would give you a ride home?

A. Not to my recollection. No, I can tell you what I did.

Q. What did you say?

A. The conversation is, the questions asked yesterday went along these lines. This is my interpretation of them. They were there and everyone was leaving at one time or another. Now, if I was to get a ride, I was going to get a ride with one of them, or Dave was going to give me a ride home, one or the other, and there was no decision made -- you say, eleven o'clock or ten o'clock, or whenever it was as concerns that. Subsequently I just took it for granted after everybody was gone I was left alone. I took it for granted that Dave was going to give me a ride home.

Q. Had Peterson told you he would come back and give you a ride home?

A. I cannot recall the conversation, but that was our custom.

Q. Why didn't you mention yesterday about you thought that Peterson would come back and give you a ride?

A. I am sure it was covered.

Q. Are you as sure of that as you are sure of everything else you have testified to?

A. I am sure it was covered.

Q. Are you as sure of that as you are sure of everything else that you testified to?

A. I don't understand the question.


I think it is an improper question. Rephrase it.


Q. How did you finally get home?

A. I think I caught a bus. I am not sure.

Q. You don't remember how you got home from Ferrie's apartment after the meeting?

A. I cannot recall, no, sir.

Q. Where were you living at that time?

A. Elysian Fields.

Q. Did you ever live at 2812 St. Charles Avenue here in New Orleans?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. When was that?

A. Last summer.

Q. The summer of '66?

A. Summer of '66, yes, sir.

Q. Is that the only time?

A. That is the only time I know of.

Q. What is Lefty Peterson's actual first name?

A. Pete, I think. He has a bunch of nicknames. We call him a bunch of things.

Q. What other nicknames does he have besides Lefty and Pete?

A. Stinky.

Q. What else?

A. Squirrel. Maybe some others, you know --

Q. Would you give us a description of Pete Peterson?

A. He has brown eyes, brown hair, and he is not big.

Q. Approximately how tall would you say that he is?

A. Maybe he is five-eight or nine.

Q. Approximately what weight?

A. 165, 170.

Q. Are there any distinctive marks or scars about his face?

A. No, sir.

Q. Does he wear glasses?

A. He needs glasses. He has worn them, but not in the last while. No, I don't think.

Q. I take it he is left-handed, is that right?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did I understand you to say that prior to this meeting in mid-September that Pete Peterson had been with you at Tulane playing basketball?

A. It was our occasion to go up there, Loyola, you know, go up there for basketball or baseball or anything.

Q. Where were you this particular night, Loyola or Tulane?

A. I don't recall. It was one or the other, it was up in that neighborhood.

Q. Did Pete Peterson attend either one of these schools?


I object to this line of questioning. It is going far afield. It is the same thing we went over yesterday. We will be here for months, not days, if we continue rehashing one thing and the other.


What is the materiality of this?


I cannot tell you what the materiality is without testifying myself, and I don't want to do that. There is one other person I want to ask him along these lines and that is all.


All right, ask him the question.


Q. Did Peter Peterson attend either Loyola or Tulane at that time?

A. No, sir.

Q. Is it not a fact that he is a cab driver?

A. Yes, sir, or he was. He is now.

Q. Now, you have told of having seen Clem Bertrand, as you refer to him, at a filling station on Veterans Highway?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And that David Ferrie was there at that time, is that right?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Now, who else did you say was there at that time?

A. The service station attendants, the young boys.

Q. You testified that Al was there at that time?

A. Landry?

Q. Right.

A. No.

Q. Was anyone else by the name of Al there at that time?

A. Not that I know of.

Q. You knew Ferrie pretty well at that time, did you not?

A. It has been several months since I had seen him, but I knew him.

Q. Did you know whether he was a part owner of that filling station?

A. No, sir.

Q. You have testified that you don't know what role Oswald was to play in the planned assassination, is that right?


I make an objection. We have been through that before. It is repetitious.


It is the understanding of the three of us that we have permitted you a great latitude. We feel it is getting a little too redundant.


All right.


Q. Did you not testify on direct examination that according to the plan that you related, Clem Bertrand was to go to the West Coast at the time of the assassination?


The same objection. It was covered previously.


I did not ask him about going to the West Coast.


All right, answer the question.


Not in the direct plan, no, sir.


Q. What did you testify to with respect to that?

A. I said that Dave Ferrie offered an alternate when they got into this dispute about Mexico and refueling that I just mentioned. Dave Ferrie said, well, he says, "We can always be in the public eye, we have to be in the public eye on that day." And it was in reference to me as an alternative. This was an alternative.

Q. What reference was made about the possibility of Clem Bertrand going to the West Coast?

A. Well, Dave Ferrie said, "I could go to Southeastern and make a speech." Something like that. And Bertrand said that he could go out on business for his company out on the West Coast.

Q. Was Dallas ever mentioned in that conversation, Dallas, Texas?

A. I never heard the City of Dallas mentioned in that conversation.

Q. Do you know whether or not the plan was for Clem Bertrand and Ferrie and Oswald to abandon any holdings that they might have in this country and leave the country permanently?

A. No, sir, I don't know.

Q. You don't know?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you ever have an occasion to meet Oswald's wife?

A. No, sir.

Q. Do you know whether or not he had a wife?

A. I was under the impression that he had.

Q. What gave you that impression?

A. Dave.

Q. How?

A. He mentioned it one time. Off the cuff he just mentioned it.

Q. Now, referring to the rifle which was shown to you by the State on direct examination, and by your testimony, were you meaning to identify that as the rifle which you say you saw Oswald cleaning or not?

A. No, sir.

Q. You did not mean to do that; the time you saw Oswald polishing this rifle or cleaning it, where did that take place?

A. At Dave Ferrie's apartment.

Q. In what part of the apartment?

A. The same room that I pointed out where the big sofa is, the little sofa, what I call the living room.

Q. How had you gotten into the apartment on that occasion?

A, I remember Dave, I think, brought me up that night for one reason or another. I don't recall.

Q. What was Oswald doing when you walked in on that occasion?

A. He just stayed seated. He may have gotten up.

Q. Approximately when was that?

A. It was right before I went up for the party, right before I went up there and barged in on the party, a few days before, maybe.

Q. That was before the party, right?

A. Yes.

Q. When you walked in, did Oswald make an attempt to hide the rifle or disguise the fact he was polishing or cleaning it?

A. No, sir.

Q. How was Oswald dressed at that time?

A. Sloppily. He just had some kind of pullover white shirt.

Q. Would you terms his appearance as dirty at that time?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Now, after you had made contact with Mr. Garrison's office, you were taken to the vicinity of Mr. Clay Shaw's apartment, were you not?

A. The same day?

Q. No, I said after you had made contact with Garrison's office?

A. Yes, sir, one time.

Q. Now, who went with you on that visit?

A. There were many members of the District Attorney's staff.

Q. Can you name any of them?

A. Andy Sciambra, Lynn Loisel, and Mr. Neidemeyer. I don't know his first name, and there was others. I never got introduced. I may have been introduced, but I don't recall their names.

Q. To the best of your knowledge, was Mr. Sciambra the only Assistant District Attorney present?

A. Probably, yes.

Q. With relation to Mr. Shaw's residence, where was the automobile parked?

A. In a no-parking zone on the right-hand side of the street going toward Canal Street.

Q. Would that have been across the street from the apartment?

A. It was on the same side.

Q. Approximately how long did you remain parked there before you saw Mr. Shaw?

A. Well, a colored lady came out once or twice, I remember, and a colored boy went in and he came out, and some friends --

Q. When you say he came out --

A. The colored boy came out, and then a friend of his had gone in sometime. I mean, I don't know if it is a friend of Mr. Bertrand, but someone had gone in, and subsequently came out maybe an hour and a half, two hours.

Q. About what time of the day or night was this?

A. This was from perhaps twelve o'clock on.

Q. Daytime or nighttime?

A. Daytime, afternoon.

Q. And you stayed there approximately how long before seeing Mr. Shaw?

A. Perhaps an hour and a half the first time.

Q. When you saw him for the first time, for approximately what period of time did you see him?

A. Perhaps thirty seconds.

Q. As a result of seeing him roughly thirty seconds, did you tell the gentlemen in the automobile you were able to identify him or not?

A. I said that from what I saw, I said it was the same man.

Q. The same man?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. What would be your approximation of the distance from where the car was parked and the place you saw Mr. Shaw at that time?

A. Perhaps fifteen to twenty feet.

Q. And you told these gentlemen it was the same man, is that correct?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. What happened then within the automobile?

A. Nothing. Mr. Sciambra said, "That will not do, we want you to make a positive identification, we will have to wait until he comes out and let the man come out on the street."

Q. Would you tell us what day this was that this identification took place?

A. I don't know. It was in February. I think the latter end of February.

Q. Can you tell us how many days after you came down here from Baton Rouge this transpired?

A. No, sir. Maybe four, five, six.

Q. Was this before the day that Mr. Shaw was arrested?

A. It could have been, yes, sir.

Q. All right; when Mr. Sciambra told you that would not be sufficient, what was decided upon then?

A. To continue waiting.

Q. And did you continue waiting?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. How long?

A. Perhaps another two hours.

Q. And then what happened?

A. Well, everyone was getting fidgety and tired, and I had to stretch my legs, and we got out and moved to another car.

Q. Whose car?

A. A member of their staff. I don't know their name, and we stayed in that car for a while.

Q. About how long?

A. Maybe another -- this was all a total of two hours, two and a half hours. Maybe thirty minutes in that car.

Q. All right; what happened then?

A. And the suggestion was made, either I made it, me, or someone else made it, that we just go knock on the door and whoever comes out, just if it happened to be the man, then good, and if it is not, well, just wait another time.

Q. And you say you don't know whether you made that suggestion or somebody else did?

A. Well, they had been discussing in one fashion or another for a couple of hours. Perhaps I initiated it at that time. I don't know.

Q. At what time, was it your belief that the occupant of that residence was named Clem Bertrand or Clay Shaw?

A. At that time I didn't know a Clay Shaw. It was my belief from that first time I saw him that it was the same man as Clem Bertrand.

Q. Now, whose idea was it for you to go out there and pose as an insurance salesman; was that yours or Mr. Sciambra or one of the investigators?

A. It came as a consensus. It was all of ours. Perhaps I initiated it sometime earlier and was subsequently dropped.

Q. You said perhaps you initiated it; did you or didn't you?

A. I don't really recall the exact beginning of that particular subject.

Q. So, after it was dropped, who decided it might be a good idea you should go ahead with the plan?


I object.




Q. After the plan had been dropped for you to pose as an insurance salesman, who decided that it was a good plan and should be followed?

A. Specifically I don't know. It could have been any of us because it was getting late in the afternoon, and some of the men had been there since, I think, eleven o'clock. I had been in the office for some hours and I was tired, and everyone was tired.

Q. So, you don't remember, is that right?

A. That is right.

Q. Tell us what that plan was; how were you to go about posing as an insurance agent?


I object. It has no relevancy. What relevancy would that have before this Court in determining whether or not the State has probable cause to bind this man over for trial?


It seems to us to be a recollection that it was gone into many, many times, but if you feel it will help your case, I am going to ask my colleagues to be even more tolerant.


Q. Would you answer the question?

A. I was just to walk up and, accompanied by another person, just knock on the door, and if a colored lady answered, or someone else answered it, I was to ask for the head of the household, and if I couldn't, if no one of the head of the household [sic] did not come, well, there was nothing I could do. But it so happened he did.

Q. So happened what did?

A. Mr. Bertrand answered the door. No, a maid did.

Q. Was your saying you were a Mutual of Omaha salesman discussed in the automobile?

A. In the automobile?

Q. That is right.

A. No. At that time we were probably standing out on the street corner.

Q. What discussion was there on that particular phase of your visit to the apartment?

A. I don't know if there was any discussion about it. It was just something made that I could represent Mutual of Omaha.

Q. Well, who suggested Mutual of Omaha as distinguished from other insurance companies?

A. I don't know. There was a reason not for the Equitable [sic] because my face had been on the newspapers maybe five days before.

Q. Because what?

A. Because my name had been in the paper or my face had been in the paper five days before, and I had a personal card from a friend of mine who was a member of Mutual of Omaha.

Q. Well, what would your face having been in the newspaper have to do with it?

A. That would perhaps do -- Bertrand or whoever was in there, they might think it was a farce, you know, or might think something fishy about this, or might try and hurt me.

Q. You were afraid he might have seen your picture in the newspaper and realize it was a farce, is that right?

A. I was afraid that I might get hurt.

Q. So, did you suggest Mutual of Omaha as the insurance company name to be used?

A. I looked through my wallet, and that was one of the cards. I had some several agents [sic], several people, personal friends of mine.

Q. Did you suggest that?

A. The actual Mutual of Omaha, I don't know. Yes, probably I did. I am not sure.

Q. Did you ever tell Mr. Shaw that you were a representative of Mutual of Omaha?

A. I gave him the name on the card, I am sure, as soon as he answered the door, and I began talking, trying to request for an interview [sic], and I probably did. I am not sure of that, but I probably did, because I handed him a card; no, I showed him a card, and he took it from me after a few seconds, and he held it and he looked at the card and looked at me twice, and I am sure he recognized me.

Q. What did he say?

A. He said that at that time he was covered by, I think, it was Blue Cross, and he was with a friend of his; no, he had company. He said, "I have company," and he broke in the middle of his conversation and he said, "What did you say your name was," and so, I told it over.

Q. Did you give him your right name or not?

A. No, sir.

Q. What name did you use?

A. Addon Williams. And he looked at me twice, as if to say, I remember you, and he told me he was with a friend and that he could not talk right now, but he would be willing to discuss it later.

Q. Is that the only time you have ever used an alias, or have there been other occasions?

A. I have many nicknames.

Q. Like what?

A. Moose. I used to weigh 225 pounds.

Q. What else?

A. Beast. I used to play football, and I played line and it gets rough, you know, when you are hitting somebody, and you are a beast. And so, I got that name and probably others.

Q. Why were you concerned about your face having appeared in the newspaper and being detected because of that, when according to your testimony, you were going in to see a man with whom you had sat down at a meeting where an assassination was planned, and whom you had later seen in a filling station, where he had plenty of opportunity to see you; why would you have just thought of a newspaper picture?


I object.


Rephrase the question.


Q. What made you think that Mr. Shaw would recognize you by a newspaper picture, and why was that your only concern if you knew that you had sat with this man at a meeting where an assassination was planned, and seen him at a filling station on Veterans Highway?

A. Perhaps there were some other factors. One factor is I remembered him, and would he remember me. My face was familiar, and if I said my name was Russo, and would he remember Dave introducing me. And it was a risky thing. If he did -- in other words, I did not want anything to happen to me. Just to identify somebody, and I did not want to get shot.

Q. You did not know very well that you would be recognized the moment you were seen?

A. I didn't understand the question.

Q. I said, weren't you aware you would be recognized the moment you were seen?

A. I have possibly -- yes, and possibly no. It just depends on how much a recollection of Mr. Bertrand had about people who were at that party or other people that came walking in and left and stuff like that.

Q. You did not have any trouble having identifying [sic] this defendant after seeing him the same number of times, did you?

A. Absolutely not.


That is all.


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