Understanding the Forensic Evidence and Witness Testimony

JFK in living color

At Medium, Jimmy Falls (also of WhoWhatWhy) breaks down the forensic and eyewitness testimony to JFK’s assassination with a focus on the testimony of three people-John and Nellie Connally and James Tague–who experienced the hail of gunfire that killed the president.

The presentation is careful, the conclusions inescapable.

JFK motorcade

Those testimonies are pieces of a large puzzle that have to be put together. Each piece is a reference point that has to be consulted, weighed, and tested against other pieces, as well as the narratives formed to explain what happened on November 22, 1963.

And what we consistently find is that again and again, to maintain the narrative formed by the Warren Commission — that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone — we must paper over crucial testimony of the closest witnesses.

Source: JFK Assassination: Bloody Witness Testimony – Jimmy Falls – Medium

21 comments

  1. Russell Tarby says:

    excellent overview of the evidence.

    as is often the case, initial observations not influenced by news reports or the testimony of others, may be the most reliable.

    for example, TSBD employee Bonnie Ray Williams signed an affidavit with the DBD’s Patsy Collins on Nov, 22, 1963, and clearly stated that he heard two shots fired from the floor above his location at the TSBD’s easternmost fifth floor window.

    in subsequent statements Bonnie Ray began parroting the “official” story that three shots originated from the Depository’s sixth floor…

  2. ed connor says:

    John and Nellie Connally were interviewed by Life Magazine (11/25/66).
    John said he heard the first shot and began to turn, first to the right and then to the left. He felt the impact of the second bullet “like someone doubled his fist and came up behind you…”
    Nellie was looking back at JFK and saw him gripping at his throat. “Then I heard the second shot that hit John. I must have been looking right at him when it hit, because I saw him recoil to the right.. so, you see, I had time to look at the president AFTER he was already hit, then turn to see John hit by a second shot.”
    John Connally said “after the impact I glanced down and saw that my whole chest was covered with blood.”
    In frame 230 Connally is seen holding his Stetson hat with the right wrist that was supposedly fractured 1/3 of a second earlier.
    The Zapruder film clearly shows that all these injuries to Gov. Connally did not occur at frame 224. He was plainly struck by a separate bullet. And the “magic bullet” (Ex. 399) could not have caused the extensive bony injuries to Connally and still maintained its pristine shape. No hunter, and no test, supports such an absurd conclusion. Two shots. Two shooters. As Posner might say, “case closed.”

  3. robert e williamson jr says:

    Recently I have been reviewing Dave Talbot’s “Devils Chess Board.”

    It likely comes as no surprise to you I have a somewhat different take

    the Bay of Pigs and the back story saga of JFK and the Alan Dulles’

    relationship.

    It seems to me that Dulles was no doubt trying to draw JFK into making

    a mistake no matter which decision the President made.

    I have always thought JFK navigated the troubled waters of the “Bay of

    Pigs” very well. I also come away from the “Chess Board” thinking he

    was working to draw Dulles into a similar trap. And I think he did by

    calling Dulles’ bluff.

    His one fatal mistake was not realizing the if he got the best of

    Dulles, Dulles would green light a hit on him. From where I sit it

    appears Kennedy did force Dulles’ hand and didn’t realize the danger he

    now faced.

    Was it that he was young a romantic and naive and it got him killed.

    Time and again he seems to trust the wrong person. Judging from the

    way Ike was treated by the same group of Dulles insiders JFK must have

    never known just how ruthless Allen Dulles and the members of his

    “inner circle” were.

    Could it be that close revelation of all things “Bay of Pigs” might

    provided leverage for the public to deserve a second look at JFK’s

    death.

    Mr. Talbot does seem to paint a picture of a “Bay of Pigs” plan that

    reveals very serious problems from the beginning to the end of it.

    The Bay of Pigs fiasco seems to scream to closely examined, an

    examination that will show Dulles as the mad man he was and what

    happens when someone like him is running a secret arm of our

    government.

    Jeff if I’m way behind the curve here just post this in the circular file.

    Thanks.

  4. John F. Davies says:

    A very detailed study of the Zapruder film and the sequence of shots in Dealy Plaza. Quite thorough and definitely makes a good case.
    However, one factor was not very well covered in this piece, and it is the alleged murder weapon itself.

    While the article mentions the type of weapon ( 6,.5 mm Mannlicher Carcano Carbine.), and the amount of time it takes to recycle the action ( 2.3 seconds.), it does not go into much detail about the weapon’s shortcomings.

    My take on the rifle is from my experience as a Marine Corps Infantryman and as someone with 25 years practical experience with firearms. While I am in no way an authority on ballistics, I have had the opportunity to actually handle and work 6.5 mm Mannlicher Carcano carbines on a number of occasions.

    Based on my experience, I found the rifle’s action to be one of the roughest I have ever worked with. The Mauser action, which is found on most bolt action rifles, cocks on opening the bolt. The Carcano on the other hand, cocks on closing, which requires more force to lock the action. The trigger was loose and spongy, the sight relief poor,
    and it took a lot more force than usual to feed rounds into the chamber. It also did not fit very well into my shoulder, and as the alleged murder weapon had an L shaped mount for the scope, it would take more time to get back into proper eye relief for the next shot than it would have been with a conventional scope mount.

    For comparison, during my tour in the Fleet Marine Force, I had the opportunity to try out an actual USMC M-40 sniper rifle, which is a modified version of the Remington 700. The M-40 was solid, accurate, and had an action that was smooth and firm, as well as being a solid and well made piece of equipment. Comparing the M-40 to the Carcano would be like that of comparing a scientific instrument to a pipe wrench.

    With all that said, and basing this on personal experience and the findings of the Warren Report, my own conclusion- Not with THAT rifle.

    Many thanks again for your time, work, and website.

  5. Your article was very well written and I fully respect the thoughtfulness of your effort. However there are many errors that stretch credulity in the assumption made. I’ll list them below:

    John Connolly: So let’s forget the 2 different stories on which way he turns. Mistakes happen and, with a micro-managed accounting of his story he made some errors in trying to relate what he thought vs what was occurring. The best example of this is his own lack of “ My God they’re going to kill us all” comment.

    The person sitting in the car nearest JFK, Jackie, clearly states that the yelling of Gov. Connolly, caused her to become distracted in her actions to tend to her husband’s initial injury. Connolly makes no mention of this yet Jackie does. It is vitally important to understand Jackie’s CLEAR AND DIRECT movements as well. She can be seen looking at the howling Connolly BEFORE she even looked at her husband for goodness sakes. As yourselves this: Why take the time to look at Connolly when your trying to assist a clearly struck president. Of course the answer is BECAUSE whatever fog/shock/confusion he was fighting through Governor Connolly WAS yelling something and that “something” literally distracted Jackie to the point of delaying her movement to ascertain the issue ( unknown to her at the moment ) of why JFK was grabbing his throat AND why Connolly was yelling.

    Time of Shooting: Apparently the author wants it both ways on the issue of Oswald’s shot timing. To make it appear that Oswald fired 3 shot in 6 seconds ( and to use frame 210 as the starting time is just plain deceptive ) as not possible is not an issue of substance here. Oswald DID NOT HAVE TO BOLT AND CHAMBER HIS FIRST SHOT. Whether he hit the darn light pole hanger, a tree branch, fired off a dud or mangled casing round, etc is not pertinent. The author gives Oswald only the slightest margin by tweaking the time and the film. How about some reality and forensic truth here. How about stating the simple fact that Oswald missed a shot at approximately 160. This gives Oswald 64 frames to reacquire JFk and shoot again. 64 frames divided by 18.3 frames/ second is 3.49 seconds folks. During this time Connolly does do exactly what he said. He turned to his right. Now the crazy issue about Connolly being shot so late in the sequence is not worth dissecting here. There is not reason to go down that road and I won’t. Connolly is struck at frame 224. This is clear and the bullet hole through the lapel in his jacket is obviously from a bullet and not a wind gust. So, where are we now? 224 to frame 313 right. This give Oswald 89 frames frames people. 89 frames is another 4.86 SECONDS to take a last deep breath and get his target. So what does this mean?

    It means that despite what everyone who has a theory to sell tries to make this “alignment” work it’s just major league gaslighting. Work backwards people. Oswald had almost 5 second to hit JFK after his second shot. 5 seconds for just the last shot alone! Oswald had almost 3.6 seconds from, in Connolly’s own words, his reaction to the first shot ( at approx ) 160. So, simple math tells me 3.49 plus 4.86 = 8.35 second to fire the LAST 2 shots regardless of whatever happened to the first bullet ( traffic light, or pole, or tree). 8.35 seconds is a lot of time.

    Think about this: 153 frames elapsed from Z160 to Z313. This may come as a surprise to you ( 160 to 313 = 153 z frames divided by 18.3 = 8.36 seconds ).

    • Val Zampedro says:

      The bullet did not go through Governor Connolly’s lapel. It went well below and to the right of the lapel. Here is an article about that with photographs: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2462106/John-Connallys-bloody-shirt-Kennedy-assassination-display.html

    • ed connor says:

      Seth:
      Except James Teague was firm in his belief that he heard at least one shot BEFORE he was struck on his cheek by a ricochet.
      So your frame #160 argument does not square with the victim’s account, any more than your frame #224 argument squares with the Connally’s accounts. Or, just watch the Zapruder film. It is obvious Gov. Connally has not suffered a major rib and wrist fracture until long after #224.
      If you have ever fractured a rib or a wrist, you know and feel it immediately. Compared to JFK’s soft tissue wound, PRIOR to #224, which he was already reacting to when he emerged from behind the Stemmons Freeway sign at #224.

      • Seth Thomas says:

        Ed, I actually am not overly excited about Mr. T’s statement. He was depositioned about 9 months after the assassination and, when asked about which bullet may have caused his injury his reply was “ I guess…”. So as a fact witness he doesn’t really have any weight at all in my view. He could have been hit by the first missed shot, or even a fragment of the 3rd. I actually have fractured my rib just recently. The pain, for me, was dull for a moment or two… but then became wicked. Similar to Connolly in a way. As for JFK AND Gov. Connolly, you have no proof that they were not hit by the same bullet. I will give you one point to consider ( possibly?): Study the Zapruder Film. It actually proves that they were struck by the same bullet.

        Sorry folks… my mistake about the lapel. The bullet did not go through the lapel. It just missed it but the inertia did close it up.

        • Gerry Simone says:

          Kennedy is already reacting to a non-fatal wound when he emerges from behind the Stemmons sign, which was not the same as what Connally sustained (10 cm of rib bone smashed longitudinally being worse in my humble opinion). I don’t see how this proves they were hit by the same bullet.

          https://miketgriffith.com/files/10reasons.htm

      • Seth Thomas says:

        Ed. He was anything but firm at all in his deposition. In fact he actually used “ I guess “ when trying to determine what the shot/injury to his face sequence was. I have had the dis-pleasure to have a broken rib. I do not agree that you feel immeaditely. It actually felt warm and numb first… then hurt like crazy. Lastly, I actually think Connolly was correct in his version. He heard a shot ( only he assumed jfk was hit), then both were hit, then the third shot. I do feel Zapruder’s film show them being struck by the same 2nd shot. Soon, I’ll prove it too!

        • Gary Marks says:

          And further support is that, apparently, the shape of the entrance wound in Connally’s back was not circular, but somewhat oblong in shape suggesting that the bullet was tumbling. Goes through Kennedy, tumbles a bit, and then enters Connally. If Connally was hit by a separate shot, the entrance wound would be circular.

          • Gerry Simone says:

            I doubt that it was tumbling (not that I believe that it went through Kennedy), but rather what Dr. Shaw said (a tangential wound).

            Furthermore, the Warren Commission Report says in Chapter 3, page 91, the following, which goes against a tumbling bullet:

            “A photograph of the path of the bullet traveling through the simulated neck showed that it proceeded in a straight line and was stable.” 192

          • Gerry Simone says:

            Dr. Shaw said it could have otherwise been a tangential wound.

            The Warren Commission Report on page 91 conducted a test and had this to say of the path of the bullet through the neck:

            “A photograph of the path of the bullet traveling through the simulated neck showed that it proceeded in a straight line and was stable.”192

            No tumbling.

    • Jimmy Falls says:

      Thanks for your comments Seth. I’ll try and respond to some of them.

      My beginning discussion about the timing/seconds/frames was in relation to the total time *from when Kennedy was first hit* — which everyone agrees happened sometime between frames 210 and 224. I quoted the WC which said, “the time span between the shot entering the back of the President’s neck and the bullet which shattered his skull was 4.8 to 5.6 seconds.”

      The main issue re timing and seconds that I was getting at is not the total amount of time from the first shot (because it depends on when you think the first shot occurred & whether it missed or not — the WC itself was not clear on this, not saying for sure which shot missed). It’s that there must be 2.3 seconds (42 frames) *between each shot*. That’s why the magic bullet exists: not enough time/frames to account for the separate wounding of Connally by the same shooter.

      You say that the first shot (which *missed*) is at 160. But as my article tried to point out, there are numerous problems with this, such as: 1) There is nowhere between 160 and 224 where Connally is turning to look over his right shoulder because “once I heard the shot in my own mind I identified it as a rifle shot, and I immediately — the only thought that crossed my mind was that this is an assassination attempt.” It’s just not there. However, plenty of visual evidence of him doing just that — starting *after* 224. 2) This presumably must have been the Tague shot, but you must then explain how the bullet went all the way to his position when the limousine was *closer* to the TSBD, rifle aimed at a more exaggerated angle. 3) While not completely sure, Tague testified it was either second or third that injured his cheek. Not first. 4) It discounts the testimony of Nellie that the first shot hit JFK (as well as her testimony that the second shot hit John Connally, making the SBT impossible).

      Re Jackie: you point out that she was distracted by Connally’s yelling, but why does this mean he had to have been already wounded (with a sucking chest wound)? She is very much focused on Connally from roughly 250 to 290. Could this be when he was saying “Oh, no, no, no”, as she testified? I would have liked to have delved further into her testimony (perhaps I will in the future), but generally I found it somewhat difficult to parse in terms of the sequence of events. For example she seems to compress the shots together in her recollection here: “And just as I turned and looked at him, I could see a piece of his skull and I remember it was flesh colored.” But that’s probably not entirely her fault — I think the lawyers did a lousy job asking her appropriate follow up/clarifying questions — perhaps out of a sense of modesty.

      Re SBT: given the nature of John Connally’s wounds, how do you explain his non-reaction at 224 when JFK’s hands are already reaching for his neck?

      • Gary Marks says:

        Connally said that he heard a shot (#1) just after the car turned onto Elm St and he said he looked around to try to see Kennedy. As discussed by Max Holland, this whole sequence was NOT on the Z film because there is a gap in the film that is quite obvious. What we are seeing in the Z film are the second and third shots. To my eyes, the second shot hit both Kennedy and Connally. The reactions are almost simultaneous.

    • Gerry Simone says:

      Hello Seth,

      I happened to have re-read Michael T. Griffith’s article (updated 2012), Faulty Evidence: Problems with the Case Against Lee Harvey Oswald (Fifth Edition) last night.

      3 shots in 6 seconds still means the next two shots or hits were at or close to the minimum firing time.

      However, the problem with a shot at Z160 is that how could the shooter have missed not only JFK but the entire limousine when the target was at it’s closest to the 6th floor window? (If it hit a mast, people would have heard that. If it hit a tree branch, you might hear that too but definitely see a branch or bark fall to the ground. But if Oswald was as good a marksman as some claim, he would have waited, or have taken a shot when he had a clear view when the limo was on Houston).

      Also, there were several witnesses that said that the last two shots were almost on top of each other (as if a burst of fire from an automatic weapon), not equally spaced apart or not close together.

      https://miketgriffith.com/files/faulty.htm

  6. robert e williamson jr says:

    Seth did you ever come up with any more info on the precision of the speed of the spring drive in the camera?

  7. Any analysis based on the Zapruder film must take into account the fact that the film has been substantially altered, that the film we now have is markedly different from the original. Even so, the extant film shows reactions to six shots.

    https://miketgriffith.com/files/zfilmaltered.pdf

    https://miketgriffith.com/files/6shots.htm

  8. Seeing as this has to do with the Zapruder film I have to ask if anyone was ever able to positively identify who many call the Dark Complected Man? Lots and lots of attention paid to the Umbrella Man and they feel that it was Louis Stevenson?? But what about his dark friend who seems as though he was very involved in the Killing of the President. He seems so obvious in acting like a marker for the shooters but we never really found out more about him did we? Please share if anyone knows. I find it hard to believe that the Warren Commission never investigated him. Seems fairly obvious based on the Z film and so many other pictures of the aftermath in Dealey Plaza that he had some involvement. I have seen and read who many think he was or who he looked like but was that ever confirmed?

    On my visits to Dealey Plaza I am always struck by how small of an area it is and especially the killing zone that they had the President in. And how instrumental the Dark Man was to the timing and location of the shots. Umbrella Man too as that’s a good marker for any shooter. I would think that this should also call into question how Oswald would be able to get off that many shots in such a limited amount of time and space. Once the car comes into view from behind the sign the President has already been shot in the throat(probably from the front, IE: hole in the windshield of the limo) and that leaves very little time and space to get off 2 more shots. Just not possible to do based on lots and lots of evidence. Thanks again and stay safe and healthy. Ed

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