The Clay Shaw trial testimony of Abraham Zapruder
CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT
PARISH OF ORLEANS
STATE OF LOUISIANA
STATE OF LOUISIANA vs. CLAY L. SHAW
EXCERPT OF PROCEEDINGS in Open Court on February 13, 1969
B E F O R E : HONORABLE EDWARD A. HAGGERTY, JR., JUDGE, SECTION "C"
ABRAHAM ZAPRUDER, after first being duly sworn, was examined and testified on his oath as follows:
THE COURT: The spelling of the witness' name is Abraham Zapruder, Z-A-P-R-U-D-E-R, is that correct?
THE WITNESS: Z-A-P-R-U-D-E-R, correct.
THE COURT: Very well, you may proceed.
DIRECT EXAMINATION BY MR. OSER:
Q: State your name for the record please?
A: Abraham Zapruder.
Q: Where do you live, Mr. Zapruder?
A: 3909 Marquette, Dallas, Texas.
Q: Mr. Zapruder, what is your occupation?
A: I manufacture ladies' dresses.
THE COURT: I can't hear you.
THE WITNESS: I manufacture ladies' dresses.
MR. OSER: I don't believe it is coming over that mike at all.
THE COURT: I think the engineer is here. See if someone can fix this microphone. Say, "one, two, three, four," and see if the man in the back row can hear you.
THE WITNESS: One, two, three, four.
THE COURT: Can you speak a little louder?
THE WITNESS: Yes, I can.
THE COURT: Try one more time. Let's go.
BY MR. OSER:
Q: Mr. Zapruder, during November, 1963, what was your occupation?
A: I can hardly hear you now.
Q: During November of 1963, what was your occupation?
A: The same.
Q: Where is your business located in Dallas?
A: 501 Elm Street.
Q: Does the business location have a name to the building?
A: Yes, it is the Dal-Tex Building.
Q: I direct your attention to the date of November 22, 1963, and ask you where you were at approximately 12:15 p.m. on that date?
A: 12:15 p.m. I was looking for a place where to stand so I would be able to take pictures of the arrival of the President.
Q: Was anybody with you at this time?
A: Yes, one of my secretaries.
Q: Did you find such a location?
A: After three attempts, yes.
Q: What location did you decide upon?
A: There was a concrete abutment about 4 feet tall and that's where I decided to stay. MR. OSER: What is the next exhibit number?
THE MINUTE CLERK: Thirty-three.
BY MR. OSER:
Q: Mr. Zapruder, I show you what the State has marked for the purpose of identification as S-33, and ask you if you have ever seen this exhibit before?
A: You mean this picture?
Q: Yes, sir.
Q: Do you recognize what is depicted in that photograph, sir?
A: Are you referring to my --
THE COURT: You are not going to have a private conversation. Everything is supposed to go into the record, so speak into the microphone loud and clear.
THE WITNESS: What is the question?
BY MR. OSER:
Q: Do you recognize anything depicted in that photograph, sir?
Q: What do you recognize?
A: I recognize myself standing there with my secretary on the aforementioned 4 foot concrete abutment.
Q: Would you circle for me the location with this pen on the photograph where you say you are depicted?
Q: Mr. Zapruder, while you were standing on this concrete abutment did you do anything in particular in regard to what you were waiting to see and hear?
A: Did I do anything?
Q: Yes, sir, did you have anything with you and did you do anything?
A: I had a camera with me.
Q: What type of camera did you have?
A: A Bell & Howell motion picture camera, 8 millimeter, with a zoom lens.
Q: Can you tell us what was the color?
A: It was loaded with color film.
Q: What was the color of the camera itself?
A: I believe it was black.
Q: Do you know what type of lens you had in this camera?
A: I'm not sure, but I believe it was 2.8.
Q: Which I believe you said is commonly known as a zoom lens?
MR. DYMOND: I object, he is leading the witness.
THE COURT: Don't lead the witness.
MR. OSER: He already testified to that.
THE COURT: You can't lead him even though he has said it.
MR. OSER: At this time the State wishes to use one of its other exhibits.
MR. DYMOND: We object to it being submitted to the Jury until it is submitted in evidence.
THE COURT: Take the Jury into their room.
(WHEREUPON, the Jury retired to the Jury Room.)
THE COURT: Now, Mr. Oser, the photograph which you have numbered S-33 for identification purposes, I understand you are going to make an offer of that photograph to be received in evidence, and if it is received then you wish to present an enlargement, is that correct?
MR. OSER: No, Your Honor, other exhibits.
THE COURT: A separate exhibit?
MR. OSER: Yes, Your Honor, separate from Exhibit S-33 for identification.
THE COURT: You may show us the exhibit and we will see what it is.
MR. DYMOND: If the Court please, at this time we object to all this testimony concerning Dealey Plaza on the ground of relevancy. Your Honor has ruled many, many times that there is no connection between the happenings at Dealey Plaza and this case. The only overt act alleged by the State in connection with happenings at Dallas at that time was the alleged taking by Lee Harvey Oswald of the gun from his home to the School Book Depository. I refer Your Honor to RS15:441, which gives a codal definition of relevant evidence and reads as follows:
"Relevant evidence is that tending to show the commission of the offense and the intent or tending to negative the commission of the offense and the intent. The facts necessary to be known to explain a relevant fact or which support and inference raised by such a fact are admissible."
It is our contention that none of this evidence comes within that codal definition of relevant evidence. It is on that basis that we object.
MR. ALCOCK: I think, Your Honor, we have argued this at length on prior occasions, but I think the words Mr. Dymond noted towards the end of his argument are important, that is, "The facts necessary to be known to explain a relevant fact or which support an inference raised by such a fact are admissible."
We have in the record of this case an alleged discussion participated in by the Defendant, Lee Oswald and David Ferrie relative to the assassination of the President of the United States. We have a discussion of triangulation of crossfire, the use of rifles in the assassination attempt, or in the discussion itself, and certainly this evidence the State submits, will be connected up. The State also suggests it is highly corroborative of this conspiratorial meeting and for this reason the State submits it is relevant to the facts already stated in evidence --
MR. DYMOND: Your Honor, all the things Mr. Alcock outlined were alleged and have been before the Court for approximately two years, and were the basis for all Your Honor's rulings up till now, that there was no connection between what happened, so the State argued, and now we have here a complete reversal of the position.
MR. ALCOCK: The State has never reversed its position. The State's position was that it could, if it wanted to, overprove its case. The State admits, and this Court has acknowledged on numerous occasions, the State does not have to prove, as a matter of law, the President was killed as a result of this alleged conspiratorial meeting. However, the State may call evidence which tends to confirm or corroborate that it was discussed. It would then be the duty of the Jury to decide whether or not to give any weight to the evidence adduced regarding the events in Dallas, Texas, relative to the actual assassination area. They can consider the President was shot on that occasion, and if the State can prove he was shot from more than one direction the State has in effect proven a conspiracy, or more than one person shooting at him, and these are things the Jury can infer from this evidence and they are simply and purely corroborative of the testimony of Perry Russo, and in addition to that the testimony of Mr. Spiesel, who also mentioned the fact of shooting the President with rifles.
MR. DYMOND: Your Honor, nothing Mr. Alcock says presents anything that has not been before this Court and used as a basis for Your Honor's previous rulings. It is Your Honor's job to decide what is relevant and what is not relevant.
THE COURT: I'm aware of that.
MR. DYMOND: It is not up to the Jury.
THE COURT: You have made your arguments to me and I understand both arguments advanced. The evidence must be relevant to a material issue. I am going to read again Article 441, which you read, and also read a little further. "Relevant evidence is that tending to show . . . ."
(REPORTER'S NOTE: The quoted passage was not handed to the Reporter; the reader is referred to the source.)
There is no question about it, that the State can overprove its case if it so desires, and I feel the evidence that is now being offered as to what occurred in Dallas is relevant evidence and I will admit it and therefore I will overrule your objection.
MR. DYMOND: To which ruling Counsel objects and reserves a bill of exception, making the entire testimony of this witness, the Defense's objection and the Court's ruling and the record up to this time part of the bill.
THE COURT: Let us see this exhibit. What is that and who is that and who are you going to use to identify it?
MR. OSER: Mr. Zapruder and Mr. Robert West, who is the County Surveyor for Dallas, Texas and has been since 1944.
THE COURT: The County Surveyor would be the person who could say whether or not this is a true representation of that area on that date. What date was is taken?
MR. OSER: I don't know the date it was taken, Your Honor, but this represents Dealey Plaza on November 22.
THE COURT: The materiality depends upon it portraying the conditions that existed at 12:15 on November 22, 1963. If it does then it is relevant, if it does not, it is not.
MR. OSER: Mr. West can identify it as to the topographical arrangements and the buildings and streets and other things being the same in this picture as they were on November 22, 1963.
THE COURT: What about the trees, are the trees the same?
MR. OSER: I think the gentleman could also testify to that, Your Honor.
THE COURT: What is your next one? Let us give them a number. That one will be --
MR. OSER: This is S-34.
THE COURT: The other one will be what?
MR. OSER: S-35, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Tell us what that is supposed to be.
MR. OSER: It is the survey plat made by Mr. Robert West, drawn by him for the FBI, for the Federal Government on May 31, 1964.
THE COURT: What year?
MR. OSER: May 31, 1964 it is certified to, and I think Mr. West will testify in his opinion it actually represents what the land and topographical area was on November 22, 1963.
THE COURT: What is your next exhibit?
MR. OSER: A scale model, which the State marks as S-36 for the purpose of identification, purporting to be representative of the area known as Dealey Plaza.
MR. DYMOND: I thought we were told that was not a scale model.
MR. OSER: You are right, not a scale model, a markup. The State is not alleging it is to scale.
THE COURT: Who prepared it?
MR. OSER: It was prepared by CBS.
THE COURT: Who is going to identify it as being a true picture of the scene on November 22, 1963?
MR. OSER: Mr. West can identify it, and Mr. Zapruder can testify this represents the streets and the buildings and area known as Dealey Plaza.
MR. DYMOND: Unless it is to scale we are going to object because it can very easily present a distorted picture.
THE COURT: They don't offer it as a scale model. They offer it to portray the scene but not a scale model. How are you going to have Mr. Zapruder testify as to Exhibits 34, 35 and 36, unless you get them in evidence?
MR. OSER: I would ask then that we call Mr. West at this time.
THE COURT: That's what I would suggest. You may step down, Mr. Zapruder.