The Clay Shaw trial testimony of Andrew Sciambra
CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT
PARISH OF ORLEANS
STATE OF LOUISIANA
STATE OF LOUISIANA vs. CLAY L. SHAW
EXCERPT OF PROCEEDINGS IN OPEN COURT
Morning, February 12, 1969
Paul Williams, Reporter
B E F O R E: THE HONORABLE EDWARD A. HAGGERTY, JR., JUDGE, SECTION "C"
ANDREW J. SCIAMBRA, having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
DIRECT EXAMINATION BY MR. ALCOCK:
Q: For the record, state your full name and occupation.
A: My name is Andrew J. Sciambra, Assistant District Attorney, Parish of Orleans.
Q: How long have you been Assistant District Attorney?
A: Since March -- since May of 1966.
Q: And are you an attorney at law?
A: I am.
Q: Mr. Sciambra, referring you to the day of February 27, 1967, did you have occasion to interview Perry Raymond Russo?
A: February 27 or February 25?
Q: February 25, I am sorry.
Q: When did this interview take place?
A: The interview took place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Q: Were you with anyone at the time the interview was conducted?
A: No, I was alone.
Q: And for what reason did you go up to Baton Rouge on that occasion?
A: Well, that morning I had received a telephone call from Jim Garrison, and Jim asked me did anyone talk to Perry Russo yet, and I told Mr. Garrison --
MR. WEGMANN: Object to what someone told him.
BY MR. ALCOCK:
Q: As a result of a conversation --
A: As a result of my conversation with Mr. Garrison, I went up to Baton Rouge to interview Perry Russo.
Q: New, prior to that occasion, Mr. Sciambra, or subsequent to it, have you ever seen a letter allegedly addressed to the District Attorney's office by Mr. Russo?
A: No, I never have.
Q: Do you recall approximately what time the interview began?
A: Well, as best I can recall, when I first got to Baton Rouge, Perry was not home, they had a baseball game going on, the LSU team had a practice baseball game, I believe, going on at the baseball field, and I was told that Perry was at the --
MR. DYMOND: I object to what he was told.
THE WITNESS: I went over to the baseball field and I saw Perry at the baseball field and he was watching Steve Derby, who was playing for LSU at the time, and I told Perry that I was from the District Attorney's office, and I told him that I would like to interview him in regards to what I had read and what Garrison had read in New Orleans and Baton Rouge papers concerning what Dave Ferrie had told him. Perry said that, well, as a result --
MR. DYMOND: Objection.
MR. WEGMANN: Object, Judge, this is rank hearsay.
THE WITNESS: As a result of my conversation with Perry, later on that afternoon, around 5:30 or 6:00 o'clock I went over the Perry's apartment at 311 East State Street in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and I began my interview with Perry Russo.
BY MR. ALCOCK:
Q: Now, who was present in the apartment besides yourself and Perry Russo?
A: Well, during the course of my interview with Perry, many people were present, coming in and out, actually if you know Perry Russo at all you know that his apartment is more or less like a fraternity house in regards to many of his friends in his presence.
MR. WEGMANN: Objection, he is stating an opinion as to what he thinks Perry --
THE WITNESS: There were many people in Perry's apartment from time to time, the people were friends of Perry's.
MR. WEGMANN: I object unless he knows of his own personal knowledge.
THE WITNESS: I do know of my own personal knowledge those were friends of Perry and there were people coming in and out of the apartment.
BY MR. ALCOCK:
Q: Approximately how long did you interview Perry?
A: I would imagine I interviewed Perry about two and a half hours, give or take fifteen or twenty minutes.
Q: On this occasion, did you take any notes?
A: In the beginning of the interview I took very few notes. Actually I was more interested in names and addresses and telephone numbers and it was not until about -- I was there, I would say, an hour and a half to an hour and forty-five minutes when I took a little more extensive notes, in all I would say I took about two and a half, maybe three pages of notes.
Q: On what size pad did you take those notes?
A: A regular legal-sized pad.
Q: Did you have a tape recorder with you?
A: No, I did not.
Q: Did you tape down anything Perry Russo said?
A: No, I did not.
Q: At any time during the course of the interview did you leave the room where Perry was?
A: I don't believe I did.
Q: Do you recall his leaving the room at any time?
A: Well, he may have walked from the room that we were in into the kitchen or something, but I don't really remember.
Q: What, Mr. Sciambra, were you using for your writing purposes, how did you have your legal pad?
A: Well, I sat down on the chair and I put my brief case on tope of my legs and I put the legal pad on top of the brief case, I wrote like that.
Q: During the course of your interview, Mr. Sciambra, did Perry Russo identify any pictures?
A: During the course of our interview, Perry identified many pictures. I had about forty photographs and I showed these photographs to Perry during the course of our interview and he identified many of them as being familiar or that he thought he may have know this person or that he thought he may have known that person, and also during the course of this interview, Perry identified a picture of Lee Harvey Oswald as Leon, a person whom he had been introduced to by Dave Ferrie.
MR. WEGMANN: I object, Your Honor, hearsay.
THE COURT: All right --
MR. DYMOND: It's hearsay, we object on the grounds it is hearsay evidence.
THE COURT: Anything that Perry Russo told him is hearsay, yes.
MR. ALCOCK: Even though Perry has testified --
THE COURT: Yes.
MR. ALCOCK: He can say whether or not he identified a picture, that is what he was saying, I asked him if he identified any pictures and he said yes.
MR. DYMOND: If the Court please, in order to identify a picture you must say who that picture represents, that is what identifying a picture is, and that is certainly hearsay evidence.
MR. ALCOCK: He can say out of a stack of forty pictures which pictures he mechanically picked out and sat aside.
THE COURT: I think Mr. Sciambra can testify to a physical act done by another person without stating what the person said. It would be hearsay.
MR. WEGMANN: If we are going to do it this way, if we are going to permit the witness to do this, I think we should call for the production of the forty pictures that were there and let him point out the ones that he identified.
THE COURT: Are you trying to tell the State how to run the case?
MR. WEGMANN: No, Your Honor, but --
THE COURT: That is what it amounts to.
MR. WEGMANN: If he does not do it that way, it is hearsay.
THE WITNESS: I did not say he identified forty pictures --
THE COURT: Let me make a ruling on this. Make your objection again for the record.
MR. WEGMANN: If he is going to point out the pictures that Mr. Russo identified, he should show us all of the pictures so we could be aware of what he chose from and what he didn't choose from. If we are going to show him specific items, you are in effect leading the witness if you are going to ask him did he choose this one and that one.
MR. ALCOCK: That is not leading a witness, to show the witness a picture and ask whether or not on a certain occasion this man identified a picture. He could either say yes or no.
THE COURT: The observation was that the man would have to physically state orally whether it was or was not, and the only other way was the effort you mentioned, that he mechanically separated them, which is a physical act and not verbal conversation. If your proposition is done the way you say, with these forty pictures, this many physically separating the ones that you have into evidence, then I would permit that, if it was done that way, and Mr. Wegmann's objection is that there were forty pictures, get the rest of the pictures because it is the same physical act, pick these out of the forty.
MR. ALCOCK: Let's determine whether or not he still has them or recalls what the pictures were.
THE COURT: That is a good idea.
BY MR. ALCOCK:
Q: Do you still have the thirty or forty pictures that you have presented to Perry Russo on that occasion?
A: In the course of the investigation we were constantly changing pictures.
MR. WEGMANN: I ask the Court to instruct him to answer the question.
MR. ALCOCK: He is not questioning this witness, he will have his opportunity, let's have an objection, not just start talking.
MR. WEGMANN: I have the right to make an objection to the Court.
MR. ALCOCK: Then make your objection.
MR. WEGMANN: The objection at this time is the answer is not responsive to the question.
MR. ALCOCK: That is the Court's decision to make.
MR. WEGMANN: It is my right to make the objection to the Court and call it to the Court's attention.
THE COURT: Say yes or no and then you can explain it.
THE WITNESS: Yes, and let me explain. I have most of the pictures in the course of --
THE COURT: The answer should have been no, you do not have the forty.
THE WITNESS: I do not have the complete forty, Your Honor.
THE COURT: The answer is no, I do not have it, and you can explain.
THE WITNESS: I don't have the exact forty pictures; as a matter of fact, I couldn't tell you the exact forty pictures I have but I do believe I have most of the pictures at that time that I was carrying around.
MR. ALCOCK: It is the State's position that it is not necessary to have these forty pictures brought into Court and to have this witness say which one was separated from the stack of pictures. Now, yesterday Mr. Dymond cross-examined Perry Russo on Mr. Sciambra's memorandum, and this is exactly what we are getting into here now.
THE COURT: I am aware of that.
MR. DYMOND: If the Court please, if a particular photograph was physically separated from other photographs, the Jury is certainly entitled to know what other photographs they were separated from. I don't say this is a fact, but conceivably all forty could be the same, we don't know.
THE COURT: I rule that Mr. Sciambra came back to the City with certain exhibits as a result of talking to Perry Russo, and I will permit you to introduce them into evidence.
MR. ALCOCK: They have already been introduced, Your Honor.
MR. DYMOND: To which ruling Counsel objects, reserves a bill making the question, the answer, whatever photographs were exhibited and allegedly identified, the ruling of the Court, the entire record, parts of the bill.
BY MR. ALCOCK:
Q: I show you two pictures which have been previously marked for purposes of identification as "S-1" and "S-3," and I ask you whether or not these pictures were selected during the course of that interview.
A: These pictures were selected.
Q: Do you know who is depicted in "S-1" and "S-3"?
A: Lee Harvey Oswald is depicted in "S-1," and David W. Ferrie is depicted in "S-3."
Q: Now, Mr. Sciambra, at the conclusion of this interview, where did you go?
A: At the conclusion of my interview with Perry Russo in Baton Rouge, I went directly to Jim Garrison's house.
Q: And what did you tell him without saying what he told you?
A: I told Jim Garrison that Perry Russo told me during our interview in Baton Rouge of a meeting --
MR. WEGMANN: This is hearsay, Your Honor.
MR. DYMOND: He is relating hearsay.
THE COURT: I sustain the objection.
BY MR. ALCOCK:
Q: Did you inform Mr. Garrison of the contents of the interview?
A: Yes, I did.
Q: As a result of that or in conjunction with your duties, did you have an occasion shortly thereafter to see Perry Russo again?
A: Yes, I did, the next time I saw Perry Russo was Monday morning, February 27.
Q: And where did you see him?
A: In the District Attorney's office.
Q: And who was present with you at that time?
A: At the time I don't know exactly who was present, but he came up to my office as a result of my phone call.
Q: Did you go anywhere with him on that occasion?
A: Well, at first I we went down to the Detective Bureau in order to draw a composite sketch of Lee Harvey Oswald, and then from there we went back up to the District Attorney's office, contacted Detective Jano in an effort to get the beard of Lee Harvey Oswald properly drawn on the photograph.
Q: And other than those activities, did you have any other contact with Perry Russo on that day?
A: After that Al Oser and myself took Perry Russo to Dr. Nicholas Chetta's office on Bienville Street, I believe it was, and from there we took Perry Russo over to the Mercy Hospital and he was put under sodium pentothal.
Q: Were you present during the interview on the sodium pentothal?
A: Yes, I was.
Q: Was there a stenographer taking down what was said during the interview?
A: No, Al Oser was taking down notes.
Q: Subsequent to this interview, did you or Mr. Oser ever put Mr. Oser's notes to a memorandum or a writing?
A: The first thing that we did Tuesday morning, the first thing I did Tuesday morning was contact Lorraine Schuler, Jim Garrison's personal secretary, and we went in Mr. Garrison's office and Al Oser and myself dictated the memorandum concerning the sodium pentothal interview with Perry Russo.
Q: Now, going back to your original interview with Perry Russo, Mr. Sciambra, did you have occasion at any time to commit that interview to writing, in memorandum form?
A: Monday morning, the 27th, the first thing I did when I got in the DA's around 9:00 o'clock, I picked up the telephone and I called Perry Russo's place of employment in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which was an insurance company, and Perry Russo was not in at the time, so I left a message with his boss to have Perry call me when he did come in, and subsequent to that I contacted a secretary in the DA's office and got her into my office and began dictating a memorandum of my interview with Perry Russo on the 25th. I had dictated about one paragraph of that memorandum when the telephone rang, it was Perry Russo.
Q: You can't say what he said.
A: No, I told Perry Russo to come on down here, that Jim Garrison wanted to talk to him, and as a result of what he told me, I was waiting for Perry to get in New Orleans about an hour and a half after I talked to him, and I did not finish the memorandum at that time. I finished only dictating about one paragraph of the memorandum, which was begun on the morning of February 27.
Q: Now, I am going to show you, Mr. Sciambra, that which has been introduced into evidence and marked "S and D-20," which purports to be a memorandum prepared by yourself, and I ask if you can identify it.
A: Yes, I can identify this memorandum. this is a memorandum that I started to dictate on the morning of February 27 before I had received the phone call from Perry Russo and which was completed about seven to ten days later.
Q: Mr. Sciambra, which memorandum was completed first, the memorandum that you have just identified or the memorandum that you and Mr. Oser dictated the morning after the sodium pentothal administration?
A: The first memorandum that was dictated and completed first was the memorandum that Mr. Oser and I dictated Tuesday morning to Miss Lorraine Schuler, the memorandum that Mr. Dymond has labeled as the Sciambra Memorandum was not finished until ten days, seven to ten days after the sodium pentothal memorandum.
Q: Mr. Sciambra, can you recall how many dictation sessions you had in total or what was required in total for you to complete the memorandum, "S and D 20"?
A: You are referring to what Mr. --
Q: The Sciambra Memorandum.
A: I would say it took anywhere from four to five sessions to complete that memorandum. You see, the way I dictated that memorandum, there were so many things going on at the time that whenever I would get a chance to dictate on the memorandum and whenever the secretary had a chance to receive the dictation, I would call her to my office and would dictate bits and pieces of the memorandum.
Q: Now, Mr. Sciambra, does that memorandum reflect all that Perry Russo told you on the 25th of February?
A: It does not. That memorandum was hastily done, it was incomplete, it was inaccurate, there were omissions in it, and it does not reflect what Perry Russo told me during my first interview in Baton Rouge on February 25.
Q: And does the memorandum that you prepared along with Mr. Oser on the 27th accurately reflect the interview at Mercy Hospital?
A: The sodium pentothal memorandum, which was the first memorandum that I dictated, reflects the most important thing that Perry Russo told me during our interview on February 25th in Baton Rouge, namely of a meeting.
MR. DYMOND: I object to what Perry Russo told him.
MR. WEGMANN: He is violating the basic rule of testimony.
THE WITNESS: That is your opinion.
THE COURT: Don't answer the attorney back. You are a witness at this stage, please check yourself and make sure you don't tell us what he told you.
MR. ALCOCK: I will make him a copy. It is almost lunch, Your Honor, if they want to peruse it during lunch.
THE COURT: Here is what we will do, Gentlemen, if you wish. It is five minutes to twelve. You can get a copy Xeroxed and you can have it during recess. Gentlemen, do not discuss the case with one another or any other persons. We will now be in recess for lunch. Let everybody have a seat until the Jury leaves.
We will be in recess until 1:30.
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