Rebuttal arguments by James Alcock
THE COURT: Mr. Alcock.
MR. ALCOCK: May it please the Court: Gentlemen of the Jury, it is now my function to rebut the arguments of Mr. Dymond, Defense Counsel in this case. I took down many notes during the course of his argument, and I intend to cover these matters just as quickly as I can and still cover them thoroughly enough to familiarize you with the particular elements involved.
We heard an awful lot of the unbelievability of the State's witnesses. We heard an awful lot about the State's witnesses coming forward at the last minute. Did Defense Counsel explain to you in his argument how Perry Raymond Russo could have known that the Defendant was on the Nashville Street wharf when the President of the United States spoke there in 1963 unless he had in fact seen the Defendant on the wharf that day? He didn't mention that one time in his argument, and I don't blame him, because there is no way he could explain it other than the fact that Perry Raymond Russo did see the Defendant on the Nashville Street wharf. Is that corroboration of Perry Russo? Certainly it is.
Did he mention the probability that that mailman, this "old mailman" as he termed it, would have delivered the letters to Clem Bertrand -- another coincidence, gentlemen -- the same name that this man used during the conspiratorial meeting -- to a long-time friend of the Defendant before the Bar? What are the probabilities of this man delivering such letters to such a man? Did he answer that for you? He did not. Is this just another coincidence, a long-time friend of the Defendant, the Defendant's mail going to that house? Did he cover for you the implausible explanation given by the Defendant that he filed a cancellation of change of address but did not file any original change of address? He did not. And again I don't blame him, because he could not explain it to you.
Did he say anything about Charles Spiesel mentioning the fact that the couple that owned the apartment were from North Carolina, and that his Defendant admitted knowing many people in North Carolina? Is this just another coincidence? Did he explain to you how Perry Raymond Russo on the last time he saw Lee Harvey Oswald in the city of New Orleans mentioned that Lee Harvey Oswald said that he was going to Houston, Texas, and his own witness, Ruth Paine, corroborated Perry Raymond Russo when she said the last thing Lee told her when she left the city was that he was going to either Philadelphia or Houston, Texas? Was that explained to you at all in Defense Counsel's argument? I submit it was not. As far as the Defendant's trip to the West Coast, the fact that he knew it before mid-September and certainly could have said it in this meeting in mid-September, that he was going to the West Coast -- is this just another coincidence, that Perry Raymond Russo would know that the Defendant was going to the West Coast of the United States?
Gentlemen, we can only accept these things as coincidences so long, and then they become hard fact and they give us a pattern. And David Ferrie was in the public eye in Houston, Texas. Did he mention the fact that David Ferrie went to the home of Lee Harvey Oswald on Magazine Street in his argument? No.
Did he mention the fact that Mrs. Jessie Parker took a lie detector test on whether or not she had --
MR. DYMOND: Your Honor, I object to that. Counsel well knows that that is not arguable evidence.
MR. ALCOCK: That was in the record, Your Honor.
THE COURT: What was the statement made?
MR. DYMOND: About a woman taking a lie detector test.
MR. ALCOCK: That is in the record, Your Honor. The results may not be, but it si in the record.
THE COURT: The Law Review article, the American Law Review article states that it cannot be made part of the record if it got into the record -- if it didn't get in by testimony, got in by a statement of Counsel.
MR. ALCOCK: Your Honor, I submit to the Court that you allowed me to call Mr. Krubbe, Captain Krubbe, who administered the test.
THE COURT: You didn't use the word "testimony," you used the word "interview." I purposely told them not to use the word "testimony."
MR. ALCOCK: Well, gentlemen, I will leave it to your memory and to your recollection of the testimony. Did Counsel mention the fact that though the trip to Oregon may have been prearranged, there may have been solicitation by the people in Oregon to have the Defendant speak before them? Did he mention the fact that in the letter of Mario Bermudez, that a friend of the Defendant on behalf of the Defendant was soliciting a speaking engagement between the 21st of November, 1963, and the 23rd of November, 1963, and that date just happened to be November 22, 1963, the date on which the President, or the former President, of the United States, was shot down in the streets of Dallas? Answer. He mentioned to you, in passing, the testimony of Clinton, Louisiana, the eye-witness testimony in Clinton, Louisiana, and read a passage from a decision of the United States Supreme Court. I submit that if we had come before this Jury with a wholly circumstantial case, with no eye-witness identification, he would have been up here screaming, where are your witnesses, where are the people who actually saw the Defendant in person in the presence of Lee Harvey Oswald and David Ferrie? This is direct evidence as opposed to circumstantial evidence, and it is stronger evidence, and Counsel knows it is stronger evidence.
What is his answer to the identification under oath of John Manchester? It is 76 and cloudy in Clinton, Louisiana. What is his answer to the identification, positive identification, of Corrie Collins? It is 72 and raining in Clinton, Louisiana. There were two gentlemen that recalled this incident because of the coolness of the weather, and that was the barber who left his door open because it was unseasonably cool, and Reeves Morgan, who was burning some things in his fireplace because it was cool. And you heard their witness testify that the temperature went all the way down to 60 degrees on some occasions. So their answer to you is to disregard this eye-witness testimony because they brought this man in with a temperature chart.
And, gentlemen, there was something that struck me, as Mr. Dymond would say, right between the eyes. He got up and said it was an insult to him personally as an Officer of the Court because the State put Charles Spiesel on the stand, and I explained to you gentlemen that you are entitled to all of the evidence in this case, and the State finds its witnesses where it can. Has Charles Spiesel been convicted of perjury? Has Charles Spiesel been conflicted of getting on a witness stand and lying? He has not. Has their witness, Dean Andrews, been convicted of perjury? Not about any subject but about the subject of Clay Bertrand. And they have the gall to infer that we abused you by bringing Charles Spiesel before you, and they put Dean Andrews on the witness stand.
And then, gentlemen, I could not believe my ears -- and from the murmur in the courtroom I think there were many, many others, who believed as I believed -- Mr. Dymond would have you believe that Dean Andrews rose from the muck and mire of lies that he has spun since 1963, and laid bare his soul to this Jury and finally told the truth, and I wrote something down at this time. Mr. Dymond wants you to believe that now he was telling the truth, and I wrote down, "Now telling the truth." Why? This man who admitted he lied before the Warren Commission under oath, "shot the bull" as he put it, but lying nevertheless; admitted he lied twice before the Orleans Parish Grand Jury; and this, gentlemen, is their witness, and when they put a witness on this stand, they vouch for his credibility, his believability and his truthfulness, and they have the gall to assault the State and impugn the State for putting Spiesel on the stand. Was he convicted of perjury? No. Was their witness convicted of perjury? Yes.
MR. DYMOND: Your Honor, we are going to object at this point. Counsel knows very well that the conviction about which he talks is presently on appeal and is not technically a legal conviction until it is final, and I think it is misleading the Jury.
THE COURT: That is correct. It is on appeal as I understand it.
MR. ALCOCK: Well, that is correct, Your Honor, but again, gentlemen, I will leave it to you. A jury composed of men such as yourselves found him guilty of perjury. But I could not believe that Mr. Dymond would think that this man cleansed his soul before this Jury, and now, gentlemen, some five years later has finally decided to tell the truth, this man who is a habitual liar, their witness.
I told you in my opening argument, gentlemen, that Perry Raymond Russo's appreciation of the conversation was not important. It is your appreciation of the conversation that took place in the presence of Lee Harvey Oswald, participated in by Lee Harvey Oswald, the Defendant, and David Ferrie. He called it a "bull session." How many "bull sessions" did Lee Harvey Oswald participate in here in the city of New Orleans concerning the killing of the President of the United States?
If nothing had ever happened as a result of this conversation, if none of the items brought up had ever reached completion, there may be an arguable point, but when the Defendant ends up on the West Coast, Ferrie ends up where he ended up, Lee Oswald ends up in the Texas School Book Depository and the President of the United States is killed by a triangulation of fire, gentlemen, I submit that was a conspiratorial meeting and he was a conspirator to kill the President of the United States. And again when Russo saw Oswald for the last time, he was going to Houston, and their own witness confirmed that. And it is another interesting and curious thing, gentlemen, it is like a two- edged sword, it is like picking and choosing. They want you to accept Perry Russo's characterization of this meeting as a "bull session," because he has got a college degree in some law school, and yet they want you to believe he is a complete liar as far as the Defendant being at that meeting.
You can't have it both ways. You can't say, accept this man for this because it helps my case, but don't accept him for this proposition because it hurts my case. Gentlemen, I certainly would not come before this Jury and state unequivocally that Mr. Cobb was lying to you, or even Miss Moore, but I submit to you, gentlemen, that to go back that far and to recall three months and to be able to come before a jury such as yourselves and positively state that this man was never away from work is humanly impossible. But there are some very curious things about the testimony of both Miss Moore and Mr. Cobb. Both of these witnesses couldn't wait to inform this Court and this Jury that after working hours they did not know the Defendant and had nothing to do with him. It seems as if the Defendant led two lives, a veritable Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. After hours he consorted with the likes of Lee Harvey Oswald and David Ferrie. And, you know, there is another curious thing to this case, gentlemen. This man of this position, this so-called pillar of society, did not have one character witness to take this stand and to vouch for his good character, and I find that rather curious and rather strange.
The State never attempted to hide the fact that Vernon Bundy was a user of narcotics. Mr. Dymond wants you to believe it was completely implausible for this man to go to the Lakefront to shoot narcotics, and I submit to you, gentlemen, it it is not as implausible as he wants it to sound, because if I am shooting narcotics and positioning myself on the seawall without obstructions too close by, isn't it obvious that I can see the approach of any possible police officer or any possible person who would disturb me and deprive me of my narcotics before I could throw them into the water? I don't think that was implausible at all. Do you want to know that the other side of the coin is? He is going to shoot narcotics at home, risk the fact that the police might arrive, confiscate the narcotics and charge everyone in the household with possession of narcotics, including his mother. Because there is constructive possession of narcotics as well as direct possession of narcotics, and his mother or whoever else was in the household including his brother, could just as well have been charged with possessing narcotics.
Mr. Dymond seemed to find not too much fault with the testimony of Mr. Hardiman other than the fact that he said he must have been completely mistaken because he fell for an old defense trick. The name "Clem Bertrand" came to him, because shortly after -- this is no long period of time -- recall this, gentlemen, that these letters to Clem Bertrand were delivered in the fall, the early fall of '66, and the Defendant was arrested in March, or March 1 in 1967, and the name "Clem Bertrand" was flashed locally and nationally, and this is why he recalled it. And again, gentlemen, what are the probabilities of this man picking out a house, not knowing that Jeff Biddison was a close friend of the Defendant's? Does this corroborate again Perry Raymond Russo when the name "Clem Bertrand" was used? Mr. Dymond wants you to believe that because the name was used once in this conspiratorial meeting, the Defendant would forever forget this name and never utter it in public again. Well, I assume the Defendant didn't write the letters to himself, someone else was writing to him, and we must remember that the Warren Commission had reported -- we must remember that it was the feeling that there was a lone assassin and no one else was involved. So the risk, gentlemen, wasn't as great as Mr. Dymond wants you to believe it was.
And again at this time, and in conjunction with the testimony of Mr. Hardiman, the Defendant took the stand and said he executed the cancellation of the change of address. And yet what was he canceling? Thin air, because he said he never issued the original change of address. And we know why he canceled that, we know why he admitted to canceling that, be- cause it was right in this record in print in black and white and he couldn't get around it.
Mrs. Parker testified that she saw the Defendant sign that book. She took on oath and took the witness stand and said she saw him sign the book. Now, you have hard from two handwriting experts. And I don't criticize their expert for being from Washington, D.C., I don't criticize their expert for having worked with the Federal Government -- my father did for a long time -- but I submit that his testimony proved that he had a fixed opinion before he even examined it.
And here is another thing, and I elicited this from him during cross-examination. Mr. Dymond wants you to believe that the State's expert did a hurry-hurry, rush-rush job, but I specifically recall Mr. Appel testifying that he made his judgment after but two hours of analyzation of the handwriting specimens, and the State's witness testified that it took her four hours to make the analyzation, so I fail to see here where the State's expert did not perform an adequate analyzation of that handwriting sample.
And there was another thing -- and I certainly do not fault Mr. Cobb, but we must remember that Mr. Cobb was a witness in this case for the Defense, and Mr. Cobb is the one that contacted the handwriting expert whom they placed on the witness stand, and the mere fact that this witness does not want compensation does not in any way make his opinion more weighty than the opinion of one who is expecting a fee in this case. If anything, it should prove to you, gentlemen, beyond any doubt that he had a fixed opinion before he even attempted to analyze that handwriting.
Mr. and Mrs. Tadin took the stand, and Defense Counsel wants you to believe that Mrs. Tadin took the stand solely and only because her husband insisted she take the witness stand. She said that she wasn't looking forward to coming here, she didn't want to get involved. And, unfortunately, gentlemen, this is a malaise or sickness that besets our society today. I know that you are familiar with examples of people not wanting to get involved. But did she ever testify from that witness stand that she was not telling the truth, that all she was doing was parroting the words of her husband, that she was forced to come up here and testify? She testified -- in fact, I asked her at the end of the testimony whether she was telling the truth, and, frankly, she was somewhat indignant at my question and said, "Of course I am telling the truth." She would not have taken an oath and taken that witness stand unless she was telling the truth.
And here is something else you must remember. Her husband knew the Defendant before the Bar and recognized him in the presence of David Ferrie, and this is something Mr. Dymond said they were going to prove to you in the opening statement, that his client never laid eyes on either Lee Harvey Oswald or David Ferrie.
And now we come to Perry Raymond Russo and the much maligned Sciambra memo. Andrew Sciambra, the Assistant District Attorney, went to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and interviewed Perry Raymond Russo. During the course of the conversation, Perry Raymond Russo related the events that transpired at 3330 Louisiana Avenue Parkway, the conspiratorial meeting. This was testified to by Andrew Sciambra and Perry Raymond Russo. This is not all in Mr. Sciambra's memo, but if you will recall his testimony, this was not his first memorandum on the subject but rather his second memorandum. The first memorandum or the second memorandum says something about the Defendant, Clay Shaw, being on the Nashville Street wharf in 1962, and then in 1964 the Defendant is with David Ferrie at David Ferrie's gas station. Gentlemen, why on earth would the District Attorney's Office for this parish bring Perry Raymond Russo down from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to New Orleans, Louisiana, to talk to him if he had not related that in fact there was this conspiratorial meeting. What significance would there have been by just the Nashville Street wharf thing -- meeting -- or the Nashville Street wharf presence of the Defendant and the 1964 presence in a gas station? Why would we have called this man to our office had not in fact Andrew Sciambra returned from Baton Rouge and verbally conveyed to Jim Garrison about the events that transpired in that apartment on Louisiana Avenue Parkway?
Mr. Phelan read this memorandum and became upset over the absence of the conspiratorial meeting in the body of the memorandum, and I don't necessarily disagree with the fact that he became upset. At first blush it looks somewhat alarming. But who made the arrangements for Mr. Phelan to go to Baton Rouge and talk to Perry Raymond Russo? And this is after Mr. Phelan had expressed grave concern about this omission in this memorandum. Andrew Sciambra arranged for that meeting. Does it seem likely or plausible to you, gentlemen, that Andrew Sciambra and Mr. Garrison would send this man up there to confirm the fact that it wasn't said? The District Attorney's Office sent him up there because they knew that Perry Russo did say to Andrew Sciambra and did relate the events in that meeting. Now here is the most curious thing in this case: They want you to believe Jim Phelan as to whether or not Perry Russo said, "I did not mention the conspiratorial meeting until I got to New Orleans," and this is what is curious about it.
You remember Mr. Phelan took the witness stand and said, "I took along Matt Herron, a photographer." I asked Mr. Phelan, "Why did you take Mr. Matt Herron along with you?" "I took him along as a witness, as a witness to what transpired." Matt Herron was in there the entire time according to the testimony of Mr. Phelan. The Defense, gentlemen, subpoenaed Matt Herron (exhibiting document). This is the return on the subpoena, and on this side it reflects personal service, which means that this subpoena for this trial was physically put in the hands of Matt Herron. Now, why didn't the Defense call Matt Herron? Why didn't they call this man who was supposed to be Mr. Phelan's witness to what took place in Perry Russo's apartment? I submit they didn't call him because he didn't corroborate Mr. Phelan.
And as far as the point about how much time it took Mr. Sciambra to compose this memorandum, he said approximately from seven to ten days. Counsel makes much of the fact that there were not that many days between the date the memorandum is dated, the 27th, and the 5th of March or whenever it was that Jim Phelan saw Jim Garrison in Las Vegas. And I remind you again this was not the first memorandum but the second memorandum.
And now, gentlemen, Jim Phelan came back on the scene of this case in the employ of NBC, the National Broadcasting Corporation, in May of 1967, or approximately that time, came to the city of New Orleans to compose this white paper, came to talk to a man who testified in the preliminary hearing, who had already given his testimony under oath and who was obviously a witness or to be a witness in this case, that you gentlemen have heard. I want to ask you this one question: Was Mr. Phelan a law enforcement officer? Was Mr. Phelan or NBC working for the Defense? They say not. Mr. Dymond made much about the scavengers who wanted to make money on the death of our President. Well, what about NBC? What about those scavengers that came down here and attempted to suggest to a State witness that he was wrong? Not only did they attempt to suggest it but they suggested a possible name of another person that he might have misidentified the Defendant for. Now what are they saying in effect, gentlemen? They are the Judge and Jury. NBC is going to decide whether this man is guilty or innocent, they are not going to leave it to a jury such as yourselves. They are going to make that decision, they are going to come down here and wreck the State's case because they believe -- they believe -- they don't trust the Jury composed of a cross-section of citizens of this city. I say thank God that we have the jury system and a jury such as yourselves. I don't want NBC passing upon my innocence or guilt at any time, because they have got that old dollar motive. They are scavengers, and they tampered with the State's case because they didn't think you were proper or worthy to pass upon the innocence or guilt of this man.
Gentlemen, I feel that I have covered essentially most of the main points that Defense Counsel brought out in his argument, and I don't intend to keep you much longer. I just ask you to bear in mind what the State has proven in this case from that witness stand, how it has shown, gentlemen, that within four hours of this case the Defendant was proven a liar and unworthy of your belief; how it was shown that he conspired with David Ferrie and Lee Harvey Oswald to kill the President of the United States. And when I sit down, gentlemen, and when I stop talking -- and certainly my talking to you now is insignificant, because it is your voices that are the most important, and I do concur with Mr. Dymond, this is certainly an important case. Thank God it got to a jury such as yourselves despite the efforts of the Jim Phelans, the Walter Sheridans, and the Frieds of NBC, because this is where it belongs, and whatever your verdict is, you have got the right to make that verdict, a verdict which squares with your conscience, and I submit to you, gentlemen, when this case is considered in its entirety and you consider the coincidences, the many coincidences that keep cropping up in this case, the firm testimony under oath in this case, I feel sure, gentlemen, that when you deliberate and consider this that you will return a just verdict, and that is what I am asking for. Whatever that verdict be, make it a just verdict, and I feel that that verdict should be "Guilty as charged."