The Clay Shaw trial testimony of James Simmons




1426 (30)

February 15, 1969



MR. DYMOND: Your Honor, before the Jury comes in we will ask that an instanta subpoena issue for Mr. Robert Frazier.

THE COURT: Do you have the address?

MR. DYMOND: He is in the building and the Sheriff can go with Mr. Wegmann to serve him.

THE COURT: Is the State and Defense ready to proceed?

MR. OSER: Yes, sir.

MR. WEGMANN: Yes, sir.

JAMES L. SIMMONS, a witness for the State, after first being duly sworn by the Minute Clerk, was examined and testified on his oath as follows:

Q: State your name for the record, please. State your name please.

A: James L. Simmons.

Q: Where do you live, Mr. Simmons?

A: Mesquite, Texas.

Q: I can't hear you.

A: Mesquite, Texas.

Q: During November 1963, Mr. Simmons, by whom were you employed?

A: By the Union Terminal Railway Company.

Q: Where is that located?

A: In Dallas.

Q: At the present time by whom are you employed?

A: By the Post Office.

Q: Now I direct your attention to the day of November 22, 1963 and ask you if you were at work on that particular day in Dallas?

MR. DYMOND: If the Court please, once again I object to any testimony of this witness and questioning in particular on the grounds of immaterial issues.

THE COURT: The objection is overruled.

MR. DYMOND: To which ruling of the Court respectfully object and reserve a bill making the question propounded, the objection and the reason for it and the ruling of the Court and the entire testimony up to this point, including the testimony of this witness, part of the bill.

Q: Were you at work on that particular day?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Did you have occasion, Mr. Simmons, to go on the day of November 22 to the area commonly known as Dealey Plaza in Dallas?

A: Yes, I was in the area.

Q: Approximately noon that day in what area of Dealey Plaza were you located?

A: Standing on top the Triple Overpass.

Q: Who were you with, sir?

A: There was around ten or eleven of us there.

Q: You and some fellow employees of the Terminal Building?

A: Fellow employees.

Q: The place of employment, Union Terminal Building, is this close to the overpass by Dealey Plaza?

A: Yes, sir, very close.

Q: Mr. Simmons, I ask you to step down and I direct your attention to State Exhibit 34 and I ask you if you can point out on this photograph your location and your position that you were on November 22, 1963, if you would, please?

THE COURT: Step to the side, please.

THE WITNESS: I was standing approximately in this position here.

THE COURT: Mr. Oser, unless the Jury can hear the witness --

MR. OSER: Your Honor, the gentleman has the microphone.

THE COURT: We well can't hear him.

THE WITNESS: All right. I was standing approximately in this position here.

Q: Now I direct your attention to State Exhibit 36 and ask you if you can locate your position on this particular diagram scene and then I ask you to place this marker, this pin in the position.

A: In this position.

Q: Now I direct your attention to State Exhibit 35 and ask you if you can locate your position on this particular exhibit?

A: Yes, sir, I was standing in this position along this rail.

Q: I give you an emblem and ask you to place that in the position you were in on that particular day. You may have your seat back. Now while you were in this position, Mr. Simmons, did you have occasion to see the Presidential motorcade?

A: Yes, sir, I did.

Q: Where was the Presidential motorcade when you first saw it approaching you?

A: When I first saw it it had just turned the corner by the School Book Depository.

Q: Would that be making its turn on Elm Street?

A: Yes, sir, -- no, pardon. When I first saw it it came down Main and turned by the old court house.

Q: At the time the motorcade was passing did you hear any unusual noises?

A: Yes, sir, I heard three loud reports I presumed to be shots.

Q: Where was the President's car or limousine at the time that you heard the first shot, approximately?

A: It had, it was about one-third of the way or maybe half-way between the Depository and the Overpass.

Q: Did you have a clear unobstructed view of this scene?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Can you tell us what reaction if any President Kennedy had to this first shot, as you saw it?

A: Well, I don't remember exactly -- it was between the first or second or thereabouts and he turned to his left and threw his hands up.

Q: At the time of the third shot that you heard can you describe what President Kennedy's reaction was at that time as you saw it?

A: Well, he fell and there was matter and a halo of blood.

Q: Which way did he fall?

A: To his left.

Q: What did the limousine do then?

A: It paused and then accelerated real fast after the motorcycle got out the way.

Q: Did it go under the Triple Overpass?

A: Yes, sir, went directly under us.

Q: It went under you because you were standing on the overpass?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: At the time you saw this red halo, what did that appear to you to be?

A: To the left side of his head.

Q: Can you tell us what direction this went in, this matter?

A: It went over the side of the car.

Q: Which side of the car?

A: The left side.

Q: Now at the time you heard the second and third shot did you notice anything unusual in the area of the grassy knoll?

A: Well, after I heard the shots I looked to see if I could see where they were coming from and underneath the trees up on the grassy knoll by the fence I detected what appeared to be a puff of smoke or wisp of smoke.

Q: From which direction did these noises appear to come from?

A: In front and the left.

Q: Were -- will you step down and point out on the aerial photograph the location in which you heard the shots coming from and the area in which you saw the puff of smoke?

A: I was facing this way and the sound appeared to come from this general direction over along here, and there is a row of trees along the fence and towards the end of the fence there is a small building and just this side of it a few feet is where I saw the smoke.

Q: Will you step back, please. After having heard these shots and seeing a puff of smoke, what if anything did you do?

A: I went around -- there is a fence like I say here, and I went around the railing on top the overpass and walked around behind the fence.

Q: And when you got behind the fence did you see anything unusual to you?

A: Well, I was one of the first ones there and uh, when we got there there was no one there but it had rained that morning and there were several footprints back and forth along the fence.

Q: What drew your attention to these particular footprints, Mr. Simmons?

A: Well, 'cause there were so many of them.

Q: Did you see any footprints in any other area but this area?

A: On the fence, on the fence. On the fence there was a wooden brace or rail and there were muddy footprints on it.

Q: Mr. Simmons, would you come down here and using State 36, the mockup, show the Gentlemen of the Jury and the Court, the route you took after you heard the shots and saw the puff of smoke, at approximately what area behind the picket fence you saw these footprints?

A: Yes, sir. As I stated, I was standing here and after the shots we walked around this fence and there were footprints all along behind the fence.

Q: Show us also on the aerial photograph the route you took.

A: From here around behind the fence over to the little building.

Q: Have your seat back now, sir. Mr. Simmons, while you were up on the Triple Overpass at the time of the shots, did you see any effects of any shots other than what happened?

A: I actually didn't see any, I heard it.

Q: Did you see any effects of any shots in this area?

A: I saw the effects when it hit the President.

Q: Did you see any of the shots hit anything else in Dealey Plaza?

A: It looked as though one might have hit the pavement.

Q: Could you show us using the aerial photograph what area of the pavement you saw it hit?

MR. DYMOND: I object as he stated it "might have hit the pavement." Counsel has asked the witness as if it did.

MR. OSER: Do you know of your own knowledge where this bullet hit?

MR. DYMOND: I object to your saying it because he said it looked as though one might have and then he was interrupted.

THE COURT: I will ask the Stenographer to read the question back.

THE REPORTER: Question: "Did you see any of the shots hit anything else in Dealey Plaza?" Answer: "It looked as though one might have hit the pavement."

MR. DYMOND: It doesn't say any bullet hit.

Q: Step down and use the aerial photograph and show us what area in Dealey Plaza you saw the effects of one of the shots appear to you to hit.

A: On the street curb in this general area (indicating).

MR. OSER: I tender the witness.

Q: Mr. Simmons, about how long after the last shot would you say you went back in the parking lot area behind the fence?

A: Immediately.

Q: Immediately, and about how long did you stay back there?

A: We were back there several minutes.

Q: Could you tell us about how many?

A: I would say 15 or 20 minutes.

Q: 15 or 20 minutes and did you see any arrests made back there?

A: No, sir, I don't recall.

Q: Approximately how many cars were parked in that area at that time?

A: Well, it is a parking lot and it was pretty well filled with cars but I don't know approximately how many.

Q: Do you know a person who used to be a Deputy Sheriff in Dallas, Texas by the name of Roger Craig?

A: No, sir.

MR. DYMOND: If the Court please, if Mr. Craig is in the courtroom I will ask him to stand up.

THE COURT: Stand up, Mr. Craig. Would you like to have him come forward?


THE COURT: Step forward, Mr. Craig.

MR. DYMOND: Come over in this general area. You may have a seat back there again.

Q: Did you see that gentleman, Mr. Simmons?

A: There were so many people back there I don't recall his face.

Q: Did you see him or anyone else arrest a woman in the parking lot at that time?

A: No, sir, I didn't.

Q: Did you see anybody detained by anyone that appeared to be a law enforcement officer at that time?

A: No, sir.

Q: Now, Mr. Simmons, measured in feet approximately how far were you from your point of vantage to the point where the Presidential limousine was at the time the last shot was fired?

A: I don't know but I imagine it was two, three hundred feet.

Q: Two to three hundred feet?

A: Yes.

Q: Now, Mr. Simmons, you say that after the third shot was fired that you saw a halo of blood, is that right?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Would you tell us just about the position of this halo of blood in relation to the President when you saw it?

A: Well, it looked like just the top of his head blew off and went up in the air.

Q: Was the halo directly over his head or to the front of him or where?

A: Like I said, it seemed to go out the left side of the car.

Q: The halo seemed to you to do that?

A: Well, the matter.

Q: Could you tell whether this halo as you described it was in front of the President?

A: Well, it seemed to be over his head.

Q: Actually you were looking straight on so it would be a little difficult for you to tell whether it was behind or in front?

A: I guess it would.

Q: Now the area behind the fence where you have described as being a place where you went you say that was a parking lot?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: Where quite a few cars were parked in it?

A: Yes, sir, there was.

Q: Was this a muddy day?

A: Yes.

Q: Was there anything unusual about there being footprints?

A: Well, there is a steam line by the parking lot and the fence and very few people have occasion to cross that steam line.

Q: Do you know whether people were up on that fence watching the Presidential parade?

A: I didn't see anyone around there.

Q: Did you particularly look?

A: No.

Q: You were looking at the parade?

A: Yes.

Q: So there could have been people on the fence watching it and you wouldn't notice that?

A: That is right.

Q: And that would account for mud on the rail?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: It there was mud on the rail.

A: Yes.

Q: Did you see a gentleman, I'm sure you heard of Mr. Abraham Zapruder, did you see him taking movies of the Presidential parade?

A: Well, there were people all over the area taking movies but I never seen him that I know of.

Q: Mr. Simmons, you say you saw a place where a bullet might have hit the curb and what do you base your conclusion on?

A: Well, like I say after the first shot --

Q: Yes, sir?

A: After the first shot I was screening the area to see if I could see where they were coming from and there was, it looked like dust particles fly in the air from something that had hit the curb or street.

Q: And of course you are just guessing?

A: I don't know.

Q: Did you go over and check the curb in that area?

A: No, sir.

Q: You did not. Oh, yes, Mr. Simmons, you say that you were standing approximately here, is that right?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And you say that the noise, that is the report from what sounded like shots came from this direction?

A: Came from in front of the sound was to the left of me.

Q: Is it not a fact that the Texas School Book Depository is in that direction also?

A: It is.

Q: Did you see anybody up on that Triple Overpass with a gun?

A: Yes, two policemen.

Q: Two policemen.

A: Yes.

Q: They didn't fire any shots, did they?

A: No, sir.

Q: Did you hear any shots fired from the Triple Overpass?

A: No, not from there.

Q: You heard a total of what you saw is three shots?

A: Yes, sir.

MR. DYMOND: Thank you.

Q: Mr. Simmons, you testified in front of the Warren Commission?

A: No, sir, I did not.

Q: Were you interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation?

A: Yes, sir.

MR. OSER: That's all I have.

THE COURT: Is the gentleman excused from the effects of the subpoena?

MR. OSER: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: You're excused.


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