On November 21st and 22nd, 1986, the cable television network "Showtime" aired a two-part, five-and-a-half-hour special program, "ON TRIAL: LEE HARVEY OSWALD", which represented a first-of-its-kind JFK assassination "mock" courtroom trial, with the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy as the defendant. (There was no actor used to play the now-deceased Oswald, however; the defendant's chair was left empty during the trial.)
A real sworn-in jury of twelve Dallas citizens was flown to London, England, to sit in judgment of the man whom the Warren Commission (22 years earlier) had deemed guilty of killing President Kennedy and Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit on November 22, 1963.
An actual judge (Lucius Bunton) was also used in the 1986 "Docu-Trial", and two of the finest lawyers in America were employed to serve as the attorneys in this important landmark case. Highly-successful defense lawyer Gerry Spence of Wyoming acted in defense of his "client" (Oswald); and Spence had not lost a case in front of a jury in the last 17 years leading up to the mock trial of Oswald.
Former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi served as the lawyer for the prosecution (representing the "U.S. Government"). Bugliosi had a nearly-perfect 105-1 record in felony jury trials while employed with the L.A. DA's office.
Many of the actual witnesses surrounding the assassination of JFK were called to the witness stand during the trial, as well as police officers, photo and medical experts, and members of the HSCA panel who investigated the case in the late 1970s.
The 21-hour docu-trial (which was edited down to a little more than 5 hours for the original "Showtime" television broadcast in November 1986) took place in London during three days in July 1986 (July 23-24-25). The following day (on July 26, 1986), the 12-member jury, after deliberating for six hours, returned to the courtroom with a verdict of "Guilty" against Lee Harvey Oswald for the murder of President Kennedy.
The '86 mock trial prompted Vincent Bugliosi to spend the next 20+ years of his life writing an all-encompassing book on the JFK assassination, entitled "Reclaiming History" (published in May 2007). My extensive critique of Vincent's huge book can be found at the link below:
What follows are some verbatim excerpts from "On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald". These excerpts provide a pretty good example of the massive amount of evidence that Mr. Bugliosi had to work with as he successfully attempted, albeit in "mock trial" form only, to convict Lee Oswald of the two murders Oswald so obviously committed on 11/22/63 in Dallas, Texas....
VINCENT BUGLIOSI'S OPENING STATEMENT:
"Mr. Spence, Judge Bunton, ladies and gentlemen of the jury -- I don't have to tell you that you have been called upon to sit on the jury of perhaps the most important murder case ever tried in this country.
In any political assassination, ladies and gentlemen, almost as inevitably as death and taxes, there is always a chorus of critics screaming the word 'conspiracy' before the fatal bullet has even come to rest.
The evidence that will be presented at this trial will show that there is no substance to the persistent charge by these critics that Lee Harvey Oswald was just a patsy, set up to take the fall by some elaborate conspiracy.
We expect the evidence—ALL of the evidence—to show that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, was responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
We expect the defense, in an anemic effort to deflect suspicion away from Mr. Oswald, to offer theory, speculation, conjecture, but not one speck of credible evidence that any other person or group murdered President Kennedy and framed Lee Harvey Oswald for the murder that they committed. As this trial unfolds, you will see how utterly preposterous the allegation of a frame-up is.
The evidence at this trial will produce a vivid, and a rather stark, psychological portrait of Oswald as a deeply disturbed and maladjusted man. It will show him to be a fanatical Marxist, who restlessly searched for a country to embody the Marxist dream.
The evidence will show that on the morning of the assassination—November the 22nd, 1963—Oswald carried his weapon, a 6.5-millimeter Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, into his place of employment at the Texas School Book Depository Building. The Presidential motorcade was scheduled to pass right in front of that building that very noon.
At 12:30 PM, as the President's limousine drove slowly by, three shots rang out from the southeasternmost window on the sixth floor of that building....one of which penetrated President Kennedy's upper-right back, exited the front of his throat....another entering the right-rear of his head, and exiting and shattering the right-frontal area of his head.
As the Presidential limousine screeched away to Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the President, his life blood gushing from his body, lay mortally wounded in his wife Jacqueline's lap.
Within minutes of the assassination, Oswald's rifle was found on the same sixth floor—the floor from which Oswald had brutally cut down, at the age of only forty-six, the thirty-fifth President of these United States.
The evidence will show that Oswald's rifle, to the exclusion of all other weapons, was determined by firearms experts to be the rifle that fired the two bullets that struck down President Kennedy.
The evidence will further show that just forty-five minutes after the assassination, Oswald, in frantic flight from what he had just done, shot and killed Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit....running from the scene of the murder to a theater, where he was arrested and subdued after drawing his revolver on one of the arresting officers.
Much more evidence, ladies and gentlemen, much more, will be produced at this trial irresistibly connecting Oswald and no other person or group to the assassination.
I have every confidence that after you folks fairly and objectively evaluate all of the evidence in this case you will find that Lee Harvey Oswald, and Lee Harvey Oswald alone, was responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen."
SELECTED WITNESS TESTIMONY:
VINCENT BUGLIOSI -- "Did you recall how he [Lee Oswald] was carrying the bag?"
BUELL WESLEY FRAZIER (Oswald's co-worker who drove Oswald to work on 11/22/63 and watched Lee carry a paper package into the Book Depository that morning) -- "Yes, sir. He was carrying it parallel to his body."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Okay, so he carried the bag right next to his body....on the right side?"
MR. FRAZIER -- "Yes, sir. On the right side."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Was it cupped in his hand and under his armpit? I think you've said that in the past."
MR. FRAZIER -- "Yes, sir."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Mr. Frazier, is it true that you paid hardly any attention to this bag?"
MR. FRAZIER -- "That is true."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "So the bag could have been protruding out in front of his body, and you wouldn't have been able to see it, is that correct?"
MR. FRAZIER -- "That is true."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "So you heard a total of three shots?"
HAROLD NORMAN (assassination witness who watched the motorcade from the 5th floor of the Depository; Norman was located directly below the sniper's window during the shooting) -- "Yes, sir."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Did it sound to you like a rifle was being fired directly above you?"
MR. NORMAN -- "Yes, sir."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Was there any other reason, in addition to the sound of the rifle, any other reason why you believed the shots were coming from directly above you?"
MR. NORMAN -- "Yes, sir."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "And what is that?"
MR. NORMAN -- "Because I could hear the empty hulls—that's what I call them—hit the floor; and I could hear the bolt action of the rifle being pushed back and forward."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "You're familiar with a bolt-action rifle?"
MR. NORMAN -- "Yes, sir."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "And by 'hulls', you mean cartridge casings?"
MR. NORMAN -- "Cartridges."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "How many did you hear falling to the floor?"
MR. NORMAN -- "Three."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Is the sound of that bolt action, and the ejection of the cartridge casings, and their falling to the floor something that you're going to remember for the rest of your life?"
MR. NORMAN -- "Yes, sir."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "One more question --- at any time on the morning of the assassination did you see any stranger or strangers in the Book Depository Building?"
MR. NORMAN -- "No, sir."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Mr. Boone, did the FBI ever show you a rifle which they said was the rifle found on the sixth floor?"
EUGENE BOONE (Dallas County Deputy Sheriff who discovered a rifle in the TSBD on 11/22/63) -- "Yes, sir."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "And what did you say when you looked at that rifle?"
MR. BOONE -- "It appears to be the rifle that I saw on the sixth floor of the School Book Depository."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Well, didn't you just tell Mr. Spence that you could not identify it?"
MR. BOONE -- "I could not identify it positively because I did not have an identifying mark on the weapon."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Okay. But it appeared to be the same rifle?"
MR. BOONE -- "It appeared to be the same weapon."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Did it appear from the timing of the shots that you heard that you, yourself, could have operated, aimed, and fired a bolt-action rifle as quickly as those shots came?"
CHARLES BREHM (who witnessed the assassination from the south side of Elm Street) -- "Very easily."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "So you definitely believe that the three shots you heard that day could easily have been fired by one person?"
MR. BREHM -- "Absolutely."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "From your experience with rifles and the report of rifle shots, did you hear any difference at all in the report of the three shots that indicated more than one rifle or firing location was involved?"
MR. BREHM -- "No. All three shots were from the same origin [i.e., coming from the corner of Elm and Houston Streets, per Brehm]."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Have you personally had occasion to fire a bolt-action rifle and fire shots in rapid succession?"
MARRION L. BAKER (Dallas Police Department motorcycle officer who was riding in the Presidential motorcade; Baker encountered Lee Harvey Oswald on the 2nd floor of the Book Depository within approx. 2 minutes of the shooting) -- "Yes, sir. I have."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Did it appear from the timing of the shots you heard that you could have operated, aimed, and fired a bolt-action rifle as quickly as those shots came?"
MR. BAKER -- "Yes."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "So you believe the three shots you heard that day could have been fired by one person?"
MR. BAKER -- "Yes."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "What was the conclusion your panel came to as to how many bullets struck the President, their point of entry, and the path they took through the President's body?"
DR. CHARLES PETTY (one of 9 forensic pathologists who served on the autopsy panel [aka the "Forensic Pathology Panel"] for the HSCA) -- "My conclusion, and the conclusion of the panel, was that the President was struck by two bullets—one entering the right upper back and exiting in the front of the neck; the other entering the right back of the head, and exiting what we call the right-frontal area, that is the front and side of the head."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Is there any doubt in your mind, Doctor, whatsoever that both bullets that struck the President came from the rear and no bullets struck him from the front?"
DR. PETTY -- "None whatsoever."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Let me ask you this, Dr. Petty — assuming the President had been struck by a bullet from the front—make that assumption—could the transference of momentum from that bullet have thrown the President backward as is shown in frames 315 to 320 of the Zapruder Film?"
DR. PETTY -- "No, sir, not in my opinion."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "And why is that?"
DR. PETTY -- "Because the head is too heavy. There's too much muscular resistance to movement."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "So the killings that people see on television and in the movies—which is the only type of killings most people ever see, where the person struck by the bullet very frequently, visibly, and dramatically is propelled backward by the force of the bullet—that's not what actually happens in life when a bullet hits a human being?"
DR. PETTY -- "No, of course not."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "What you're saying is that from your Neutron Activation Analysis, there may have been fifty people firing at President Kennedy that day....but if there were, they all missed....only bullets fired from Oswald's Carcano rifle hit the President. Is that correct?"
DR. VINCENT P. GUINN -- "That's a correct statement; yes."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Mr. Delgado, I believe you testified before the Warren Commission, that on the rifle range Oswald was kind of a joke, a pretty big joke."
NELSON DELGADO (served with Oswald in Marine Corps) -- "Yes, he was."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "You're aware that at the time Oswald was doing poorly on the range, he was about to be released from the Marines, is that correct?"
MR. DELGADO -- "Yes, he was."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Are you aware that in 1956, when Oswald first joined the Marines and was going through Basic Training, he fired a 212 on the rifle range with an M-1 rifle, which made him a 'sharpshooter' at that time—are you aware of that?"
MR. DELGADO -- "Yes."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Given the fact that Oswald was about to get out of the Marines when he was in your unit, and the fact that he showed no interest in firing on the range, you don't attribute his poor showing on the range to his being a poor shot?"
MR. DELGADO -- "No."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "He could have done better, you felt, if he tried?"
MR. DELGADO -- "Certainly."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "While he [Lee Oswald] was at your home, did he ask you for any curtain rods?"
RUTH PAINE (acquaintance of Lee and Marina Oswald) -- "No, he didn't."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Did he ever, at any time, ask you for curtain rods?"
MRS. PAINE -- "No."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Was there any discussion between you and him, or you and Marina, about curtain rods?"
MRS. PAINE -- "No."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Now you, in fact, did have some curtain rods in the garage, is that correct?"
MRS. PAINE -- "In the garage...yes."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "After the assassination, they were still there."
MRS. PAINE -- "Yes, that's right."
MRS. PAINE -- "I do think for the historical record it's important that people understand that Lee was a very ordinary person—that people can kill a President without that being something that shows on them in advance."
GERRY SPENCE -- "Is it really your purpose here to try to defame this man in some way?"
MRS. PAINE -- "I'd like a full picture—I think it's really important for history that a full picture of the man be seen."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Now, Mr. O'Connor, if the President's brain being missing from his head is one of the most shocking things that you've ever seen in your entire life—a matter that you think should have been investigated, certainly—and if they [the HSCA investigators] spoke to you for one-and-a-half hours about your observations that night [11/22/63], why wasn't it important enough for you to tell these people about it?"
PAUL O'CONNOR (technician who assisted at JFK's autopsy at Bethesda Naval Medical Center) -- "I was under orders not to talk until that time."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "What?"
MR. O'CONNOR -- "I was under orders not to talk to anybody..."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "By whom?"
MR. O'CONNOR -- "By—the United States military brought in orders a couple days after the autopsy, and we were to remain silent."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "But you talked to them for an hour-and-a-half. You told them all types of things in that document."
MR. O'CONNOR -- "I received permission from the Select Committee on Assassinations to talk to the Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of Defense."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Paul, when I first asked you this question over the phone, did you tell me — 'the reason I never told them is....they never asked me'?"
MR. O'CONNOR -- "Well, they didn't ask me."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "So, in other words, Mr. O'Connor, even though this is one of the most shocking things that you've ever seen, and you're going to remember it till the day you die....and you feel this matter should have been investigated....if those investigators for the House Select Committee didn't ask you the magic question, by golly you're not about to tell 'em!! Is that correct?"
MR. O'CONNOR -- "No, sir. I only answered what I was asked, and that was it."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "I see. Thank you. No further questions."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Now, Doctor, if the bullet was coming on a downward path as it entered the Presidential limousine, as you say it was, is that correct...?"
DR. CYRIL H. WECHT (forensic pathologist who served on the HSCA's Forensic Pathology Panel; has always believed a conspiracy existed with respect to JFK's murder) -- "Yes."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Alright....and it missed Governor Connally....is that correct?"
DR. WECHT -- "Yes."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Why didn't it hit the driver of the car or do any damage to the car, Doctor?"
DR. WECHT -- "A couple of things. The straight line in that open limousine could have taken it out over the left side of the car; and, as the line shows, it would have and could have indeed missed the driver."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Wait a while! It's coming on a DOWNWARD path, Cyril! It's coming on a downward path into the Presidential limousine, goes through the President's body, misses Governor Connally, and magically also misses the driver and doesn't do any damage to the Presidential limousine!?"
DR. WECHT -- "Wait, just a moment! I did not say that THAT bullet missed all of these people completely, or that it missed the car! You KNOW that there were fragments found in the car, Mr. Bugliosi!"
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "You said the bullet passed on a straight line through the President's body..."
DR. WECHT -- "Absolutely."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "...Passed through soft tissue. So that bullet came out pristine!"
DR. WECHT -- "That's right."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "The bullet fragments found in the front seat of this car, Doctor, were bullet fragments—very, very damaged—very, very small. What happened to that pristine bullet when it came through President Kennedy's body?!! Who did it hit?!!"
DR. WECHT -- "What happened to the third bullet under the Warren Commission theory, Mr. Bugliosi?!! Where is it?! You're asking ME to be responsible for the bullets in this case?!"
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "I want to know what happened to YOUR bullet, Doctor."
DR. WECHT -- "I'm asking you what happened to the third bullet in the Warren Commission Report!"
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "You don't want to answer my question!"
DR. WECHT -- "I can't tell you where all the bullets are. I didn't conduct the investigation."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "...Now you've got your 'magic bullet'—a bullet that is coming on a downward path into the Presidential limousine, two thousand feet a second, passes through President Kennedy's body...and it misses the driver and it misses the car. It must have zigzagged to the left?"
DR. WECHT -- "No, it need not have zigzagged to the left."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Did it broadjump over the car?"
DR. WECHT -- "No...it need not have performed any remarkable feats."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "But you don't know what happened to it?"
DR. WECHT -- "No, I do not."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Well, Doctor, by definition, it seems to me that you are saying that if the other eight pathologists disagreed with you—and they did—is that correct?"
DR. WECHT -- "Yes."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "Okay. Seems to me, Doctor, that by necessary implication they are either hopelessly and utterly incompetent, or they deliberately suppressed the truth from the American public. Is that correct?"
DR. WECHT -- "There is a third alternative, which would be a hybrid to some extent of the deliberate suppression, sir..."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "So, of the nine pathologists, Doctor Wecht, you're the only one that had the honor and the integrity and the professional responsibility to tell the truth to the American people! Is that correct, Doctor!?"
DR. WECHT -- "I'll prefer to put it this way — I'm the only one who had the courage to say that the King was nude, and had no clothes on, yes."
MR. BUGLIOSI -- "No further questions."
VINCENT BUGLIOSI'S INITIAL
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, in the brief time I have to address you in this historic trial, I want to point out what must already be obvious to you....that Lee Harvey Oswald and Lee Harvey Oswald alone is responsible for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, our young and vigorous leader whose Presidency stirred the hopes of millions of Americans for a better world, and whose shocking death grieved and anguished an entire nation.
But before I summarize that evidence for you....against Mr. Oswald....evidence that conclusively proves his guilt beyond all reasonable doubt, I want to discuss several issues with you which the defense has raised during this trial.
Several factors make it clear that Kennedy and Connally were struck by the same bullet. There's absolutely no evidence of the existence of any separate bullet hitting Connally.
With respect to whether or not any shots were fired from the Grassy Knoll, I want to make the following observations — firstly, it is perfectly understandable that the witnesses were confused as to the origin of fire. Not only does Dealey Plaza resound with echoes, but here you have a situation of completely unexpected shots over just a matter of a few moments.
When you compound all of that with the fact that the witnesses were focusing their attention on the President of the United States driving by, a mesmerizing event for many of them....and the chaos, the hysteria, the bedlam that engulfed the assassination scene....it's remarkable that there was any coherence at all to what they thought they saw and heard.
Human observation, notoriously unreliable under even the most optimum situation, has to give way to hard, scientific evidence. And we do have indisputable, scientific evidence in this case that the bullets which struck President Kennedy came from his rear, not his front.
The surgeons who conducted the autopsy on President Kennedy's body, plus ALL NINE—even Wecht, even Wecht—all nine forensic pathologists who reviewed the photographic evidence and the X-rays of the President's wounds for the House Select Committee on Assassinations agreed that the two bullets that struck President Kennedy were fired from behind — the upper-back wound and the wound to the rear of the President's head being ENTRANCE wounds.
If either of the two bullets that struck President Kennedy came from the front, why weren't there any entrance wounds to the front of the President's body, nor any exit wounds to the rear of his body?
Furthermore, if there was a gunman firing from the Grassy Knoll, how come only bullets from Oswald's rifle struck President Kennedy and Governor Connally? In fact, how come NOT ONE of this other gunman's bullets even hit the Presidential limousine?
Does the defense want you folks to believe that this other gunman, hired by a sophisticated group of conspirators apparently—a well-financed group, I can assume he [Mr. Spence] is going to tell you that—was so bad a shot, that not only couldn't he hit Kennedy and Connally, he could not even hit the Presidential limousine—a large car?
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, it couldn't be more obvious that there was no gunman at the Grassy Knoll. No one saw anybody with a rifle in that area. No weapon nor expended cartridges from a weapon were found there. It didn't happen.
With respect to Ruby killing Oswald, the evidence is overwhelming that he was a very emotional man. When we couple the fact that Ruby cared deeply for Kennedy with the fact that he probably thought that he would be viewed as a hero, Ruby's killing of Oswald has all of the earmarks of a very personal killing, completely devoid of any outside influence.
In the short time I have left, I want to summarize the evidence of guilt against Mr. Oswald....
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, within minutes of the assassination, a 6.5-millimeter Mannlicher-Carcano rifle—serial number C dash 2766—was found on the sixth floor of the Book Depository Building. Oswald ordered the rifle under the name 'A. Hidell' — we know that.
We know from the testimony of Monty Lutz, the firearms expert, that the two large bullet fragments found inside the Presidential limousine were parts of a bullet fired from Oswald's rifle to the exclusion of all other weapons.
We also know from the firearms people that the three expended cartridge casings found on the floor, right beneath that sixth-floor window—undoubtedly the same casings that Mr. Norman heard fall from above—were fired in, and ejected from, Oswald's rifle to the exclusion of all other weapons.
So we KNOW, not just beyond a reasonable doubt, we know beyond ALL doubt THAT OSWALD'S RIFLE WAS THE MURDER WEAPON....that caused that terrible, terrible spray of brain matter to the front! The worst sight that I have ever seen in my entire life!
And it's obvious that Oswald carried that rifle into the building that day in that large brown paper bag. It couldn't be more obvious. As far as Mr. Frazier's testimony about Oswald carrying the bag under his armpit — he conceded he never paid close attention to just how Oswald was carrying that bag. He didn't have any reason to.
At this point if we had nothing else....nothing else....how much do you need?....if we had NOTHING else....this would be enough to prove Oswald's guilt beyond all reasonable doubt. But there's so much more.
Let's look at Oswald's conduct — November the 22nd, 1963, the day of the assassination, was a Friday. Whenever Oswald would go to visit his wife in Irving, he'd go on a Friday evening....come back on a Monday morning.
On the week of the assassination, however, for the very first time, he goes there on a Thursday evening....obviously to get his rifle for the following day.
After the assassination, all the other employees of the Book Depository Building return to work. There's a roll call. They're accounted for. Not Oswald. He takes off. The only employee who leaves the building.
Just forty-five minutes after the assassination, out of the five hundred thousand or so people in Dallas, Lee Harvey Oswald is the one out of those five hundred thousand people who just happens to murder Officer J.D. Tippit.
Oswald's responsibility for President Kennedy's assassination explains....EXPLAINS....why he was driven to murder Officer Tippit. The murder bore the signature of a man in desperate flight from some awful deed. What other reason under the moon would he have had to kill Officer Tippit?
Continuing on — when he was interrogated, Oswald, from his own lips, he told us he was guilty....he told us he was guilty....almost the same as if he had said 'I murdered President Kennedy'....he told us. How did he tell us? Well, the lies he told, one after another, showed an unmistakable consciousness of guilt.
If Oswald were innocent, why did he find it necessary to deny purchasing that Carcano rifle from the Klein's store in Chicago? Why did he even deny owning any rifle at all?! Why did he find it necessary to do that if he's innocent?
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if Lee Harvey Oswald had nothing to do with President Kennedy's assassination and was framed, this otherwise independent and defiant would-be revolutionary, who disliked taking orders from anyone, turned out to be the most willing and cooperative frame-ee in the history of mankind!! Because the evidence of his guilt is so monumental, that he could have just as well gone around with a large sign on his back declaring in bold letters 'I Just Murdered President John F. Kennedy'!!!
Anyone...ANYONE who would believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was innocent, would believe someone who told them that they heard a cow speaking the Spanish language!
Normally, ladies and gentlemen, in a murder case, a verdict of guilty brings about a certain measure of justice....obviously a limited amount of justice....but a certain measure of justice for the victim and his or her surviving loved ones. But here, the effect of this assassination went far beyond President Kennedy and his family. This was an enormous offense against the American people. And no justice could ever be achieved.
I respectfully ask you to return a swift verdict of guilty against Lee Harvey Oswald....simply because it is the only verdict that is consistent with the evidence — evidence which conclusively proves Oswald's guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen."
EXCERPTS FROM GERRY SPENCE'S
"As I began to think about what I was going to say to you folks this evening, I began to wonder what it would be if Lee [Oswald] were here. What would he say to me? I think I know what Lee would say. I think he would say, I’m scared, Mr. Spence. I think he’d say, I can’t explain a lot of these things. I think he would say, I don’t know what to do. And I think he would look to me for some answers and for some reassurance.
And maybe I would say to him, Lee, when they charge you, that doesn’t mean you’re guilty in this country. You know, there has got to be 12 good and true men who find you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And Lee, I want to tell you something, in my experience you can trust the jury. You know why? Because, you know, lawyers may think they are pretty smart, Lee, and doctors, scientists may think they are smart. The people with the great educations and the wonderful qualifications, Lee, they think they are great. And they may have curriculum vitae a mile long. But a jury, Lee, is a composite of ladies and gentlemen like this one, maybe with an average age of 40 years old. With a jury of 12, that’s 480 years of experience, almost half a thousand years of experience, Lee. And this jury has to find you guilty unanimously.
This jury has more judgment and more intelligence and is brighter than the brightest scientists and the greatest orators and the smartest lawyers that have ever walked into a courtroom, because a jury is a composite mind. That’s what makes the American system great.
You know, when you have a man who has labored and a man who has suffered and a woman who has given birth to children and raised babies; when you have people from all walks of life, from every kind of background and experience, and you bring them together, it isn’t the flat information that you get from a single witness on the stand; it becomes whole and round and complete.
I want to tell you something else I might say to Lee under those circumstances. I might say, Lee, you know, in this country we have great rights. And when a member of this jury demands those rights be given to you, they are protecting those rights for themselves. When this jury says this case has to be proven to us, not just me, but to every one of my colleagues, beyond a reasonable doubt, they protect you, but they also protect themselves, and they protect this system and this country that is different from every other country in the world. Because I need you to know something. There aren’t any juries in Russia, Lee. And you may have discovered by now, Lee, that there aren’t any juries in Cuba, and there weren’t any juries in Nazi Germany, and there aren’t any juries in China.
And the difference is the fact that in America we’re free. And we’ll be free as long as we have a jury like the one that is going to judge you, and see you, and test this case the state brings against you.
Now, folks, the judge is going to instruct you after this case is in and my argument is over, and one of the things that you will see in the charge is this language: the defendant is presumed by the law to be innocent. He has no burden to prove anything. Did you hear that? He has no burden to prove anything. That means that all of the proof has to come from the government. All of the proof has to come from Mr. Bugliosi, this government’s representative. We don’t have to prove anything, because we are, you and I are, American citizens.
And they have to prove this case to you beyond a reasonable doubt. They have to prove every element of this case beyond a reasonable doubt, and when there are reasonable doubts that are raised by this evidence, which was my obligation to do, fairly, if I could, they must dispel those doubts. Not one of them. Not two of them. Not 17 of them. But the raft of doubts that you have heard in this case have to somehow disappear unanimously. In the minds of every one of you.
And I need to say something to you that is very important to me. Each one of you have the power individually to say no. No, I won’t convict. Each one of you have the power to stop this thing, and so none of you can say, you know, I just went along with the majority. This isn’t a majority case.
You have the power, you have the right, you have the responsibility to do it if in good conscience you can’t go along with a conviction in this case. If one single doubt remains in your mind, you have the right and the responsibility and the duty to have the courage to say no.
And I turn to Lee Oswald, and I say, Lee Oswald, this jury—this jury is composed of people that have the courage to say no. And that’s what I would say to Lee Oswald in this case when he said to me, “Mr. Spence, I’m afraid.”
This is a case in which we have searched for the truth. I will tell you there is only one truth. There is only one truth in this case. And that is the truth that nobody knows the truth. Nobody understands the truth. There is one truth in this case, and that is that the closet involved here is locked, still locked. They won’t tell us what’s in the closet.
We have our individual suspicions. We may have our individual theories. But they are not the truth. We may have our prejudices. I have prejudices. I’m human. You have prejudices. Every one of us have had prejudices from the standpoint of history that have been brought to us. You have heard Mr. Bugliosi attempt to work on your prejudices. How does it feel to have people play with your prejudices? How does it feel to have someone come up to you with a nice man, like the FBI’s Shaneyfelt, and use him to prejudice you, reading a diary that was probably written in two or three days.
How does it feel to have your prejudices turned on and messed with so that suddenly you find yourself hating a human being, hating him because somebody from the stand read something from a letter and from a diary.
How does it feel when you hear him talk about a human being as a kook? You see, I’ve done some things here that maybe I shouldn’t have. It’s hard for me not to be friendly to people. That’s why I’m a lawyer. I like people. I care about human beings. Sometimes I’m nasty and mean and ugly, but I try not to be.
And if I have been too friendly during the course of this trial, if you have seen that as an attempt to influence you, then you must see me as some person who has no respect for you. You must see me as some person who believes that you would sell your vote, sell your conscience, sell your honesty, sell your true beliefs for a smile. And I hope it’s been all right that I have smiled at you from time to time. And have been friendly. And that you don’t hold that against my client, Lee Oswald."
VINCENT BUGLIOSI'S FINAL CLOSING ARGUMENTS TO THE JURY (WHICH FOLLOWED GERRY SPENCE'S CLOSING ARGUMENTS FOR THE DEFENSE):
"Based on the evidence in this case, Lee Harvey Oswald is as guilty as sin, and there's nothing that Mr. Spence can do about it.
I have yet to see the man who can convince twelve reasonable men and women as you folks are....that black is white....and white is black.
Mr. Spence, in his argument to you, no more desired to look at the evidence in this case than one would have a desire to look directly into the noonday sun. And I can't really blame him—because if I were he, I wouldn't want to either.
Because there's not one tiny grain of evidence—not one microscopic speck of evidence—that anyone, other than Lee Harvey Oswald, was responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Mr. Spence did say this....it was kind of a subtle, very clever argument....it took me a while to grasp exactly what he was doing....I think he said this, and if I misrepresent you, sir, I'm sorry, but I think he said that Lee Harvey Oswald was the exact type of person to set up as a patsy. Or words to that effect. I'm just paraphrasing. A Marxist, a defector to Soviet Russia.
Actually, he was the exact type of person to murder the President. And my colleague very cleverly turned it around and said he's the exact type of person to make as a patsy.
Let's take a look at Oswald....
Can anyone fail to see how utterly and completely crazy this man here was? Utterly and completely nuts. Bonkers. And you have to be bonkers to commit a Presidential murder. You gotta be crazy—nuts.
One example, among many: How many Americans—how many people anywhere in the world—defect to the Soviet Union? You'll find more mango trees at the North Pole....more one-hundred-dollar bills in the Florida poorhouse....than you'll find people defecting to Russia, or to anywhere behind the Iron Curtain. That alone shows how completely and utterly mentally unhinged this man was. Again, that's the exact type of person to kill the President.
In his own writing, after ridiculing both the Soviet and American systems of government, he wrote: 'To a person knowing both systems, he must be opposed to their basic foundations and representatives'.
Elsewhere, after vehemently condemning both systems, he wrote: 'I despise the representatives of both systems'. There's that word 'representative' again.
Though he may or may not have had any personal dislike for Kennedy—we don't know that. For all we know, maybe he didn't think Kennedy was that bad a person. Everything is relative in life. However, I think one thing is pretty obvious—Kennedy almost undoubtedly would have represented to Oswald the ultimate, quintessential representative—that's the key word, 'representative'—of a society for which he had a grinding contempt.
On the issue of conspiracy, Mr. Spence [Bugliosi chuckles], I'm paraphrasing him, he certainly didn't say who specifically murdered the President, but he certainly implied to you that it was....some powerful group. He never put the hat on anyone. He kept the hat on his table here. I thought he was going to put it on someone's head, but he didn't. Some mysterious group—powerful group—murdered the President and framed Lee Harvey Oswald. But he didn't say who these people were.
He did say the CIA covered-up here; he said the FBI covered-up there. In which case, if the FBI and CIA were covering-up, they'd be the ones who murdered the President, right? Why doesn't Mr. Spence come right out and say it? Why doesn't he accuse the CIA and the FBI of murdering the President? One thing you can say about Mr. Spence, he's not a shy man. He knows how to exercise his First Amendment freedom of speech. But he doesn't say it. Because he's very intelligent—very wise.
I'll tell you why he doesn't say it — because he knows that if he said that the FBI murdered the President, or the CIA murdered the President....it would sound downright SILLY! You'd LAUGH at him!
But even though neither the CIA nor organized crime would have any productive motive whatsoever to kill the President, let's make the unwarranted assumption that they did....that they had such a motive, and let's go on and discuss Mr. Spence's next point about Ruby killing Oswald.
Mafia contract killers are always selected with utmost care. I mean the one chosen to kill Oswald would be everything that Jack Ruby was not. He'd be someone who had a long track record of effectively carrying out murder contracts before for them. It would be a precise, unemotional, business-like, and above all, tight-lipped, killer for hire.
Another point has to be mentioned — it is a well-known fact that throughout the years organized crime has consistently and religiously avoided killing public officials....if for no other reason, that they have enough heat on them already, without significantly increasing that heat by going after a public figure. They don't do it.
Going after the President of the United States—of all people—would be a suicidal act on their part....an act guaranteed to bring a heat upon them not too much less than the surface of the sun. When the Mob came to this country, they didn't leave their brains behind in Palermo.
The whole notion of sophisticated groups—like organized crime, U.S. Intelligence—getting Jack Ruby, of all people, to accomplish a job which, if he talked, would prove fatal to their existence is just downright laughable.
Organized crime and U.S. Intelligence, if they were the ones behind this, could just as well have gone down to Disneyland and gotten Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck to do their bidding for them. Not only is the whole idea absurd, ladies and gentlemen, but there's just no evidence to support it.
When Mr. Spence argued that Oswald was just a patsy and was framed, he conveniently neglected to be specific. HOW was Lee Harvey Oswald framed? When we look at the mechanics of such a possible conspiracy in this case, how COULD he have been framed?
Let's get into the mechanics....
Who was this other gunman who, on the day of the assassination, made his way into the Book Depository Building, carrying a rifle....went up to the sixth floor....shot and killed the President....made his way back down to the first floor....and escaped without leaving a trace?
How, in fact, if Oswald were innocent, did they get Oswald, within forty-five minutes of the assassination, to murder Officer Tippit? Or was he framed for that murder too?!
Mr. Spence can't have it both ways. If the people who set Oswald up were so sophisticated to come up with this incredible, elaborate conspiracy—I mean to the point they had people, according to Mr. Spence, who can superimpose this man's [Oswald's] head on someone else's body, and imposters down in Mexico City—if they were that bright, why weren't they intelligent enough to know the most obvious thing of all? That you don't attempt to frame a man of questionable marksmanship ability who possesses a nineteen-dollar mail-order rifle!
As surely as I am standing here—as surely as night follows day—Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, was responsible for the murder of President John F. Kennedy.
You are twelve reasonable men and women, and that is why I have every confidence that you will confirm this fact for the pages of history by your verdict of guilty.
Thank you so very much, ladies and gentlemen."
POST-TRIAL COMMENTS BY VINCENT BUGLIOSI (INCLUDING SOME REMARKS MADE IN 1988, DURING A REPEAT TELEVISION BROADCAST OF
"The majority of the American people now believe, polls have shown, that there was a conspiracy in this case....and the reason for that is that the side of the Government has never been presented. It's been presented—it's in the Warren Report—but that's 27 volumes. Who's gone out and purchased 27 volumes? They haven't done that.
The only books that have come out on this case are by conspiracy buffs; and these are the people that have gone on talk shows throughout the country, and they finally convinced the American people.
So the importance of this case is that we finally now gave the American people, and the people around the world, the prosecution's viewpoint." -- Vincent Bugliosi; November 1986
"It's been said that if you push something at someone long enough, eventually they're going to start buying it, particularly if they're not exposed to any contrary view. And I think that's precisely what has happened here. For 25 years, the American people have been inundated with an unremitting torrent of books, and radio and TV talk shows, all alleging conspiracy.
And what's happened is that the shrill voice of the conspiracy buffs finally penetrated the consciousness of the American people and convinced the majority of Americans that there was a conspiracy. Even though the reality is that no one in 25 years has come up with one scrap of credible, substantive evidence pointing in the direction of a conspiracy.
In any event, throughout these same 25 years, apart from the early media in 1963 and 1964, the United States Government's position hasn't been told. True, it's been available. But how many Americans have gone out and purchased the 26 volumes of the Warren Commission? They haven't done that. And this is why the vote coming in will be very, very heavy in favor of a conspiracy.
I think it's very, very noteworthy that before this five-hour trial, 85 percent of the American people believed in a conspiracy. And being exposed to only five hours, it dropped dramatically to 71. If they had seen the eighteen hours [sic] of testimony and evidence, it would drop even further. And if they knew all the truth about the case, very few people would conclude that there was a conspiracy." -- Vincent Bugliosi; November 1988
AT THE END OF THE '86 MOCK TRIAL: