Opening statement by Jim Garrison





1426 (30)



May it please the Court:
Gentlemen of the Jury, you have been imposed on, to some extent unavoidably, because you have to be sequestered, and I am about to impose on you one more time, because I have to read to you a rather lengthy opening statement. The reason I have to read it is because under our law we cannot introduce evidence which has not been described, at least generally, in the opening statement, so as a result prosecuting attorneys in Louisiana have to read their opening statements in order to make sure they have touched every point of evidence that they intend to introduce. So I hope you will bear with me, and I will try and make it as painless as possible. I am going to read it verbatim, because I intend to give a copy to the Defense for their convenience as soon as I finish, and I want the copy I give them to be precisely the same as I have given you.

The State of Louisiana is required by law in all criminal trials to make an opening statement to the Jury. This statement is merely a blueprint of what the State intends to prove. It has no probative value and should not be considered as evidence in the case.

The defendant, CLAY L, SHAW, is charged in a bill of indictment with having willfully and unlawfully conspired with DAVID W, FERRIE, LEE HARVEY OSWALD and others to murder JOHN F. KENNEDY. The crime of criminal conspiracy is to find in the Criminal Code of Louisiana as follows:


"Criminal conspiracy is the agreement or combination of two or more persons for the specific purpose of committing any crime; provided that an agreement or combination to commit a crime shall not amount to a criminal conspiracy unless, in addition to such agreement or combination, one or more of such parties does an act in furtherance of the object of the agreement or combination."

As required by the definition of criminal conspiracy, the State will prove the following overt acts:

1. A meeting of LEE HARVEY OSWALD, DAVID W. FERRIE and the defendant, CLAY L. SHAW, in the apartment of DAVID W. FERRIE at 3330 Louisiana Avenue parkway in the City of New Orleans during the month of September, 1963.

2. Discussion by OSWALD, FERRIE and the defendant, SHAW of means and methods of execution of the conspiracy with regard to assassination of JOHN F. KENNEDY -- particularly, the selection and use of rifles to be fired from multiple directions simultaneously to produce a triangulation of crossfire, establishing and selecting the means and routes of escape from the assassination scene, determination of procedures and the places to be used for some of the principals to the conspiracy so as to establish alibis on the date of the assassination.

3. A "trip to the West Coast of the United States by CLAY L. SHAW during the month of November, 1963.

4. A trip by DAVID W. FERRIE from New Orleans, Louisiana to Houston, Texas on the day of November 22, 1963.

5. LEE HARVEY OSWALD taking a rifle to the Texas Book Depository in Dallas, Texas on or before November 22, 1963. The Criminal Code defines murder in the following terms:

MURDER: "Murder is the killing of a human being:

"(1)When the offender has a specific intent to kill or to inflict great bodily harm."

The evidence will show that in New Orleans, in the Summer of 1963, LEE HARVEY OSWALD was engaged in bizarre activities which made it appear ostensibly that he was connected with a Cuban organization, although in fact the evidence indicated that there was no such organization in New Orleans. This curious activity began on June 16th, when he distributed "Fair Play for Cuba Committee" leaflets on the Dumaine Street Wharf. This distribution took place at the docking site of the United States Aircraft Carrier, the USS Wasp.

Upon request of the commanding officer of the Wasp, Officer GIROD RAY of the Harbor Police approached Oswald and informed him that he would have to stop passing out the leaflets and leave the wharf area. At this time, Officer RAY confiscated two pieces of the literature being handed out by LEE HARVEY OSWALD. One of these was a leaflet, yellow in color with black print, entitled "Hands Off Cuba!" The body of the leaflet contained an invitation to join the Fair Play for Cuba Committee in New Orleans. The other item taken by Officer RAY was a pamphlet entitled "The Truth About Cuba" published by the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, 799 Broadway, New York 3, New York. In conjunction with Officer RAY's testimony, the State will offer into evidence copies of these two pieces of literature.

The evidence will further show that in June, 1963, the defendant, CLAY SHAW, was present at a party given in an apartment in the French Quarter of this City. Among the guests at the party was DAVID FERRIE, a man known as an accomplished airplane pilot. During the course of the party, the conversation among a small group of those present turned to President JOHN F. KENNEDY. In this group were DAVID FERRIE and the defendant, CLAY SHAW. The comment was made that PRESIDENT KENNEDY should be killed and that the job could best be done by a rifle. At this point, the defendant, CLAY SHAW, suggested that the man doing the shooting would probably be killed before he could make his escape. The defendant, after making this observation, turned to FERRIE and asked if it might not be possible to fly the gunman from the scene of the shooting to safety. DAVID FERRIE replied that this would be possible. At this point, the conversation was turned to other subjects.

Later in June of 1963, the defendant, CLAY SHAW, was observed speaking to LEE HARVEY OSWALD on the lakefront in the City of New Orleans. The defendant arrived at the lakefront in a large, black 4-door sedan, and was there met by LEE HARVEY OSWALD, who had walked to the meeting point along the lakefront from a westerly direction. The defendant and OSWALD had a conversation which lasted approximately fifteen minutes. At the conclusion of this conversation, the defendant gave OSWALD what appeared to be a roll of money which he immediately placed in his pocket. In shoving the money into his pocket, OSWALD dropped several leaflets to the ground. These leaflets were yellow in color with black printing and dealt with Cuba. The color, contents and size of these leaflets were identical with the "Fair Play for Cuba Committee" leaflet taken from OSWALD earlier that month on the Dumaine Street Wharf by Harbor police Patrolman GIROD RAY. The evidence will show that on August 9, 1963, LEE HARVEY OSWALD was arrested by members of the New Orleans Police Department as a result of his becoming involved in a fight with several Cubans who were protesting his passing out "Fair play for Cuba Committee" literature. This literature was confiscated by the New Orleans police Department. The State will offer into evidence three of the seized items, one of which is a yellow leaflet with black print entitled "Hands off Cuba!" This is the same type of leaflet taken from OSWALD at the Dumaine Street Wharf on June 16, 1963, and also the same as the leaflet dropped by OSWALD at the lakefront in the latter part of June, 1963. The State will also introduce the Bureau of Identification photograph taken of LEE HARVEY OSWALD at the time of his booking. A week later, on August 16, 1963, LEE HARVEY OSWALD was again distributing "Fair Play for Cuba" leaflets. Once again the distribution was done more as if to attract attention than to actually accomplish distribution. The actual distribution lasted only a few minutes, ending shortly after the news media departed. The State will introduce pictures and a television tape of this distribution, which took place in front of the International Trade Mart whose Managing Director at the time was the defendant, CLAY SHAW.

The State will show further, that in the latter part of August or the early part of September, 1963, LEE HARVEY OSWALD went to Jackson, Louisiana, a small town located not far from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. While in Jackson, he talked to witnesses in reference to his getting a job at the East Louisiana State Hospital in Jackson, Louisiana and registering to vote in that parish, so as to be able to get the job. The State will introduce the witnesses who talked to LEE HARVEY OSWALD on this occasion. The State will show that shortly thereafter still in late August or early September, 1963, the defendant, CLAY L. SHAW, LEE HARVEY OSWALD and DAVID W. FERRIE drove into Clinton, Louisiana -- which is very close to Jackson -- in a black Cadillac, parking the Cadillac near-the Voter Registrar's Office on St. Helena Street. While the defendant, CLAY L. SHAW and DAVID W. FERRIE remained in the car, LEE HARVEY OSWALD got out of the car and got in line with a group of people who were waiting to register. The State will introduce witnesses who will testify that they saw the black Cadillac parked in front of the Registrar's Office and who will identify the defendant, CLAY L. SHAW, LEE HARVEY OSWALD and DAVID W. FERRIE as the individuals in that car. The State will introduce a witness who talked to the defendant, CLAY L. SHAW, on this occasion. In asking Mr. SHAW for his identification, he was told by the defendant, that he (SHAW) was from the International Trade Mart in New Orleans, Louisiana. The State will introduce a witness who will identify LEE HARVEY OSWALD as the person he talked to in the Registrar'S Office and who will also identify the defendant, CLAY L. SHAW, and DAVID W. FERRIE as the two men seated in the black Cadillac that brought LEE HARVEY OSWALD to Clinton, Louisiana. The State will also introduce into evidence a photograph of a black Cadillac car that the witnesses will identify as either the same car or one identical to the one that they saw in Clinton that day.

The evidence will show that in the month of September, 1963, the defendant, CLAY SHAW, DAVID FERRIE and LEE HARVEY OSWALD participated in a meeting in which plans for the murder of President JOHN F. KENNEDY were discussed and refined. This meeting took place in DAVID FERRIE's apartment at 3330 Louisiana Avenue parkway in the City of New Orleans. SHAW (using the name of CLEM BERTRAND) FERRIE and OSWALD (using the first name of LEON), discussed details of the conspiracy in the presence of PERRY RAYMOND RUSSO, after FERRIE gave assurance that RUSSO was all right. The plan brought forth was that the President would be killed with a triangulation of cross fire with at least two gunmen, but preferably three, shooting at the same time. One of the gunmen, it was indicated, might have to be sacrificed as a scapegoat or patsy to allow the other participants time to make, their escape. No one indicated to OSWALD at the meeting that he was going to be the scapegoat and there was no indication of any awareness on his part of such an eventuality. They also discussed alternate routes of escape, including the possibility of flying to other countries. The defendant and DAVID FERRIE agreed that as part of the plan they would make sure they were not at the scene of the assassination. Their plan for the day of the shooting was to be engaged in a conspicuous activity in the presence of as many people as possible. The defendant, SHAW, stated he would go to the West Coast of the United States. FERRIE, not as positive about his alibi, said he thought he might make a speech at a college in Hammond, Louisiana. As the State will show, SHAW made his way to the West Coast and FERRIE, after his long drive back from Texas, made his way to Hammond, Louisiana, where he slept, not in a hotel room, but on a bed in a college dormitory. By a month after the meeting, LEE OSWALD had moved into a rooming house in Dallas, under an assumed name. By the following month when the time for the president's parade arrived, OSWALD was on the parade route at the Texas School Book Depository, where a job had been found for him. By the night of Friday, November 22nd the president was dead, FERRIE was driving through a thunderstorm to Houston, Texas and the defendant, SHAW, was out on the West Coast. LEE OSWALD, however, was in a Dallas jail ending up as the scapegoat. As to the planning -- the conspiracy -- our jurisdiction is limited to New Orleans, although we will later offer evidence concerning the assassination in Dealey Plaza in Dallas --

MR. DYMOND: Excuse me. If the Court please, we object to this.

THE COURT: On what ground?

MR. DYMOND: The Court has repeatedly ruled that the actual assassination in Dallas has no place in this case, that there may have been 50 conspiracies, as Your Honor put it, to assassinate President Kennedy. A conspiracy within this jurisdiction is alleged the overt acts have been alleged. The State is certainly bound by the answer to the application for a bill of particulars as to overt acts. Consequently, any other allegations or any other proof as to additional acts by anyone would be outside the scope of these pleadings.

THE COURT: I need not hear further.

MR. DYMOND: -- irrelevant to the issues.

THE COURT: Objection overruled. I cannot tell the State how to run its case. If they wish to overprove their case, they may do so.


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