New Orleans businessman, Clay Shaw, was tried for the assassination of John F. Kennedy from January 29, 1969 to March 1, 1969. The following people were major witnesses or participants in the trial.

Jim Garrison[edit | edit source]

District Attorney of New Orleans. He is the only person to bring a trial for the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Clay Shaw[edit | edit source]

A successful businessman, playwright, pioneer of restoration in New Orleans' French Quarter, and director of the International Trade Mart in New Orleans.

New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison prosecuted Clay Shaw on the charge that Shaw and a group of right-wing activists, including David Ferrie and Guy Banister, were involved in a conspiracy with elements of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to kill President Kennedy. Garrison arrested Shaw on March 1, 1967.[1]

Perry Russo[edit | edit source]

Perry Raymond Russo (14 May 1941 – 16 August 1995)[2][3] was the key witness for the prosecution in the trial of Clay Shaw in New Orleans in 1969.

Russo was an insurance salesman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Following the untimely death of Garrison suspect David Ferrie on February 22, 1967, the 25-year-old Russo sent a letter to the DA's office, saying that he had known Ferrie and would help the investigation in any way he could.[4] He told reporter Bill Bankston that Ferrie had told him about a month before the assassination: "We will get him, and it won't be long," and on another occasion: "You know we can get Kennedy if we want him."[5]

At the trial of Clay Shaw, Russo testified that he had attended a party at David Ferrie's apartment, where Lee Harvey Oswald (who Russo said was introduced to him as "Leon Oswald"), David Ferrie, and "Clem Bertrand" (who Russo identified in the courtroom as Clay Shaw) talked about killing President Kennedy. The conversation included plans for the "triangulation of crossfire" and alibis for the participants.[6]

David Ferrie[edit | edit source]

In the early 1960s, David Ferrie became involved with Guy Banister, former Special Agent In Charge (SAC) of the Chicago office of the FBI, right-wing political activist, segregationist, and private investigator. Ferrie also worked with Banister's associate, Sergio Arcacha Smith, an anti-Castro Cuban exile. In early 1962, both Banister and Arcacha Smith maintained offices in the Newman Building at the corner address of 544 Camp Street / 531 Lafayette Street, New Orleans.[7] Ferrie was often seen at Banister's office.[8]

Ferrie claimed to be a liberal on civil rights issues, but he was "rabidly anti-Communist," often accusing previous U.S. Presidential administrations of "sell-outs" to communism. According to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, Ferrie "...found an outlet for his political fanaticism in the anti-Castro movement."[9][10]

Ferrie was Garrison's chief suspect in the murder of President Kennedy. However, Ferrie died less than a week after the New Orleans States-Item newspaper broke the story of Garrison's investigation.[11]

Jack Martin[edit | edit source]

Jack S. Martin was an American private investigator who worked at Guy Bannister's private investigation office in New Orleans. On the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Banister and Martin were drinking together at a local bar. On their return to Banister's office, the two men got into a heated argument. According to Martin, Banister said something to which Martin replied, "What are you going to do — kill me like you all did Kennedy?" An angry Banister pistol-whipped Martin with his .357 magnum revolver.[12]

In the ensuing days, Jack Martin told reporters and authorities that a man named David Ferrie may have been involved in the assassination. Martin told police that Ferrie "...was supposed to have been the getaway pilot in the assassination."[13] He said that Ferrie had outlined plans to kill Kennedy and that Ferrie may have taught Oswald how to use a rifle with a telescopic sight. Martin claimed that Ferrie had known Lee Harvey Oswald from their days in the New Orleans Civil Air Patrol, and that he had seen a photograph, at Ferrie's home, of Oswald in a Civil Air Patrol group.[14] That photograph was subsequently confirmed to exist, and is now distributed widely.[15]

Guy Banister[edit | edit source]

William Guy Banister (March 7, 1901–June 6, 1964) was a career member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a private investigator. He was an avid anti-communist -- member of the Minutemen, the John Birch Society, Louisiana Committee on Un-American Activities and publisher of the Louisiana Intelligence Digest.[16][17]

Based in part on information gained from Jack Martin (who was an employee of Banister), New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison became convinced that a group of right-wing activists, including Banister, David Ferrie, and Clay Shaw, were involved in a conspiracy with elements of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to kill Kennedy. Garrison would later claim that the motive for the assassination was anger over Kennedy's attempts to obtain a peace settlement in both Cuba and Vietnam.[18][19] Garrison also believed that Banister, Shaw, and Ferrie had conspired to set up Oswald as a patsy in the JFK assassination.[20]

Dean Andrews[edit | edit source]

Oswald had visited Andrews' office on approximately three occasions in June and July 1963, seeking legal advice from Andrews relative to his citizenship status, his wife's status and his undesirable discharge from the Marine Corps.[21]

On November 25, 1963 (the day after Oswald's murder by Jack Ruby), Andrews informed the FBI that two days earlier he received a telephone call from a man named Clay Bertrand who inquired if he would be willing to defend Oswald in the murder and assassination case. Andrews described him as a "swinging cat" who occasionally guaranteed fees for some of Andrews' homosexual clients.[22] Andrews subsequently repeated his claims regarding the phone call in testimony before the Warren Commission in July 1964.[23]

Neither the FBI nor the New Orleans Police Department were able to locate a "Clay Bertrand" in New Orleans.[24] According to the FBI, Andrews admitted that Bertrand was a "figment of his imagination". However, Andrews would later deny the FBI report, claiming that he had never suggested that Bertrand might not be real. Later Andrews would claim that "Bertrand" was a cover for his friend Eugene Davis. In later years, Andrews continued to maintain that he had, in fact, received the phone call asking him to defend Oswald, but claimed that he was afraid to reveal the caller's true identity.[25]

Eugene Davis[edit | edit source]

When Dean Andrews refused to name Clay Shaw as "Clay Bertrand" to the Orleans Parish Grand Jury, Garrison indicted, and convicted, Andrews of perjury. Andrews then said that he had used the phony "Bertrand" name as a cover for his friend and client, Eugene Davis, operator of a gay bar in the French Quarter.[26] Davis did not know Oswald, Andrews explained, but a phone conversation with him had given him the idea to represent the accused assassin.[27] Eugene Davis later denied being "Clay Bertrand."

Aloysius Habighorst[edit | edit source]

Aloysius Habighorst was an officer of the New Orleans police department. Habighorst testified that when he booked Clay Shaw for the assassination of President Kennedy, he asked Shaw if he used any aliases, and Shaw responded, "Clay Bertrand." However, Captain Louis Curole had assigned Sgt. Jonas Butzman to guard Shaw during the procedure, and Sgt. Butzman testified that Habighorst had not questioned Shaw, and that the name "Clay Bertrand" had not been spoken by either man. Habighorst also stated that he had allowed Shaw to have his lawyer present for the procedure, a claim contradicted by several eyewitnesses.[28]

Edward O'Donnell[edit | edit source]

Lieutenant Edward O'Donnell was an officer of the New Orleans police department. O'Donnell claimed that Perry Russo told him that Russo's testimony against Clay Shaw was false.[29]

There is an alleged copy of Russo's admission that he did not hear Clay Shaw discuss killing President Kennedy in Patrica Lambert's "False Witness."[citation needed] However, in several public interviews, such as one shown in the video, The JFK Assassination: The Jim Garrison Tapes, Russo reiterates what he said at the trial of Clay Shaw: that Shaw attended a meeting at David Ferrie's apartment where Kennedy's assassination was discussed.[30][31]

O'Donnell's credibility remains questionable. He was a bitter enemy of Jim Garrison, who had brought up police brutality charges against him and Tony Polito, his partner. According to Wendall Roache of US Customs, O'Donnell an INS operative with "detailed knowledge of Cuban exile activities in New Orleans".[32]

O'Donnell was close to the Gurvich family, who were known in New Orleans as "character assassins and black-mailers" according to Dean Andrews, a lawyer involved in the case. William Gurvich was hired by Garrison as an investigator after he offered to work for a modest wage. He would later make every attempt to discredit Garrison in the press. Lou Ivon, Joe Oster, and others at the office had suspected Gurvich of being a "plant". Gurvich was a detective who specialized in security for government-subsidized shipping in the Port of New Orleans. His father was an FBI agent who, according to J. Edgar Hoover, "violated all manner of Bureau rules and regulations."

Andrew Sciambra[edit | edit source]

Assistant District Attorney of New Orleans.

Judge Edward Haggerty[edit | edit source]

Judge Haggerty presided over the trial of Clay Shaw.

F. Irvin Dymond[edit | edit source]

Dymond was the lead defense counsel representing Clay Shaw.

Alvin Oser[edit | edit source]

Oser was one of the chief prosecutors in the trial of Clay Shaw.

James Phelan[edit | edit source]

Jim Phelan was a staff writer for The Saturday Evening Post who came to New Orleans, at the request of New Orleans D.A. Jim Garrison, to cover the investigation and trial. He was the first to report discrepancies in Perry Russo's story. He called Jim Garrison at home and when he met with the D.A., he pointed out that Russo's original testimony made no mention of the "plot party."[33] Assistant D.A. Andrew Sciambra, the man who questioned Russo, said that "he must have left that detail out." When Sciambra could not produce notes from the original conversation, saying he burned them, Phelan went public with the story.[33]

Vernon Bundy[edit | edit source]

Bundy testified that he saw Clay Shaw meet with Lee Oswald by the seawall at Lake Pontchartrain in 1963. When Bundy failed a polygraph examination, assistant DAs James Alcock and Charles Ward tried in vain to convince Garrison not to use Bundy as a witness.[citation needed] According to author James Kirkwood, in exchange for Bundy's assistance, Garrison quietly sprung Bundy from prison.[34]

Alvin Beauboeuf[edit | edit source]

Al Beauboeuf was one of two men who accompanied David Ferrie on his drive from New Orleans to Houston, Texas on the night of the assassination. According to attorney Milton Brener, Beauboeuf was offered $3,000 and a position with an airline by Garrison investigator Lynn Loisel if he would "fill in the missing links" of Perry Russo's so-called "story."[35]

Sergio Arcacha Smith[edit | edit source]

Sergio Arcacha Smith was a Cuban exile and, in the early 1960s, was head of the New Orleans chapter of the CIA-backed Cuban Revolutionary Council, an anti-Castro group.[36] The forerunner of the Cuban Revolutionary Council was a group called the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front, known in Spanish as the Frente Revolucionario Democrático (FRD).[37][38] Arcacha Smith had served under Castro's predecessor, the military ruler, Fulgencio Batista.[39] Garrison believed that Arcacha Smith could link David Ferrie, Clay Shaw and Oswald together at the Trial of Clay Shaw in New Orleans, Louisiana. Texas Governor John Connally refused to extradite Arcacha Smith to Louisiana for the trial.[40] Jim Garrison continued his prosecution without Arcacha Smith's testimony.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Chriss, Nicholas C (March 2, 1967). "New Orleans Civic Leader Accused. Quizzed for Five Hour's About Conspiracy in Assassination". New York Times. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/latimes/access/510216142.html?dids=510216142:510216142&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:AI&type=historic&date=Mar+02,+1967&author=&pub=Los+Angeles+Times&desc=JFK+PLOT+ARREST&pqatl=google. Retrieved 2010-04-12. "One of New Orleans' best-known civic leaders was arrested Wednesday by Dist. Atty. Jim Garrison and accused of conspiring to assassinate President John F. Kennedy." 
  2. Social Security Death Index.
  3. Transcript of Russo’s testimony at Clay Shaw's trial on February 10, 1969, HSCA Record 180-10097-10190, p. 10.
  4. Patricia Lambert, False Witness (New York: M. Evans and Co., 1998), p. 304 fn. 4
  5. Cross-Examination of Perry Russo by Defense Attorney Dymond, State of Louisiana vs. Clay L. Shaw, February 10, 1969.
  6. Testimony of Perry Raymond Russo, State of Louisiana vs. Clay L. Shaw, February 10, 1969.
  7. David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, p. 110.
  8. David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, p. 111.
  9. David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, p. 109.
  10. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, p. 127.
  11. Jim Garrison Interview, Playboy magazine, Eric Norden, October 1967.
  12. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, p. 130.
  13. David Ferrie, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 12, pp. 112-13.
  14. FBI Interview of Jack S. Martin, 25 November 1963 & 27 November 1963, Warren Commission Document 75, pp. 217-18, 309-11.
  15. PBS Frontline "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald", broadcast on PBS stations, November 1993 (various dates).
  16. 544 Camp Street and Related Events, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 13, pp. 126-7.
  17. Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), pp. 225-226. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
  18. Jim Garrison Interview, Playboy magazine, Eric Norden, October 1967.
  19. Garrison, Jim. On The Trail of the Assassins, (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1988), pp. 12-13, 43, 176-178, 277, 293. ISBN 0-941781-02-X
  20. Garrison, Jim. On The Trail of the Assassins, (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1988), pp. 26-27, 62, 70, 106-110, 250, 278, 289. ISBN 0-941781-02-X
  21. Warren Commission Exhibit No. 3094 and Warren Commission Hearings Vol. XXVI, pp. 704-06.
  22. Testimony of Dean Andrews, Warren Commission Hearings, Volume. 11 p. 335.
  23. Testimony of Dean Andrews, Warren Commission Hearings, Volume. 11 p. 334.
  24. "Who was Dean Andrews?". jfk-online.com. http://www.jfk-online.com/jfk100andrews.html. Retrieved 5 March 2010. 
  25. Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 241. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
  26. Lambert, pp. 116, 312 fn. 24.
  27. Lambert, pp. 120-21
  28. "Clay Shaw admits an alias". jfk-online.com. http://www.jfk-online.com/jfk100habig.html. Retrieved 5 March 2010. 
  29. "Russo recantation". Mcadams.posc.mu.edu. http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/recant.htm. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  30. The Lighthouse Report, "The Last Testament of Perry Raymond Russo", Will Robinson, 10 October 1992.
  31. The JFK Assassination: The Jim Garrison Tapes, John Barbour, 1992.
  32. Mellen, Joan (2007). A Farewell to Justice. Potomac Books. pp. 147. 
  33. 33.0 33.1 JFK online: Excerpts from James Kirkwood's interview with James Phelan; from James Kirkwood, American Grotesque, 1992 ed., pp. 161-73:
  34. Kirkwood, James. American Grotesque. pp. 174-175
  35. JFK-online:Alleged attempted bribery of Al Beauboeuf
  36. Cuban Revolutionary Council (CRC): New Orleans Chapter, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 5, p. 61.
  37. "Jerry P. Shinley Archive: Sergio Arcacha Smith and the FRD (Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front): JFK assassination investigation: Jim Garrison New Orleans investigation of the John F. Kennedy assassination". Jfk-online.com. http://www.jfk-online.com/jpsasfrd.html. Retrieved 2010-09-17. 
  38. Cuban Revolutionary Council: A Concise History, House Select Committee on Assassinations - Appendix to Hearings, Volume 10, 4, p. 57.
  39. Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 231. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
  40. Jim Garrison Interview, Playboy magazine, Eric Norden, October 1967.
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