Saturday, 16 October 2021 20:58

A Presumption of Innocence: Lee Harvey Oswald, Part 3

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Johnny Cairns continues his multi-part reexamination of the key evidence against Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of JFK by reviewing the discovery, photography, and chain of custody of the Mannlicher-Carcano shells and the dubious identification of fingerprints belonging to Oswald.

Part 1

Part 2

I. The Disposition and Discovery of the Shells

The discovery of the rifle shells on the sixth floor that go by the labels Commission Exhibits 543, 544, and 545 add more controversy into the investigation of the murder of President John F. Kennedy.

The shells, which the Commission concluded had been used in the assassination, were discovered, according to the Warren Report, by Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney. According to the report:

Around 1pm, Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney noticed a pile of cartons in front of the window in the south-east corner of the sixth floor. Searching that area, he found at approximately 1:12 p.m. three empty cartridge cases on the floor near the window. (WR, p. 79)

A few obvious questions arise with regard to the subsequent discovery of the alleged “Snipers Nest” and the shells allegedly contained therein.

  1. With various witnesses reporting to the police in the immediate aftermath of the Presidents murder that they had indeed witnessed a rifle in the possession of a man or men on the upper floors, then why did the Dallas police not immediately converge upon the book depository’s sixth floor? Instead, the police decided to commence a floor by floor canvass of the building in search of a gunman or evidence linked to the crime. This was in spite of the various witness testimonies to a man (men) with a rifle on the upper floors.
  2. Why did it take Mooney 12 minutes between his discovery of the alleged “sniper’s nest” to his apparent discovery of the three spent cartridges? According to Mooney's testimony once he had ventured down from the seventh floor:

LM – So I went back down. I went straight across to the south-east corner of the building, and I saw all these high boxes. Of course, they were stacked all the way around over there. And I squeezed between two. And the minute I squeezed between these two stacks of boxes, I had to turn myself sideways to get in there—that is when I saw the expended shells and the boxes that were stacked up looked to be a rest for a weapon. (WCH, Vol. III, pp. 283284)

Mooney’s testimony refutes the information contained in the Warren Report regarding the 12-minute discovery between the “Shield of Cartons” and the expended shells. And in reference to the earlier quoted testimony, “the minute I squeezed between these two stacks of boxes…that is when I saw the expended shells.” (ibid) It would seem that the authors of the report were too busy to re-acquaint themselves with the testimony which was deposed before them, choosing instead to print in error that 12 minutes had elapsed between the discovery of the shield of cartons and the discovery of the shells.

In reference to Fritz and his conduct in handling the evidence, we find the following printed within the Report:

When he was notified of Mooney’s discovery, Capt. J W. Fritz, chief of the homicide bureau of the Dallas Police Department, issued instructions that nothing be moved or touched until technicians from the police crime laboratory could take photographs and check for fingerprints. (WR, p. 79)

This account is disputed by cameraman for WFFA TV Tom Alyea, who was present on the sixth floor after the assassination. Alyea stated that:

After filming the casings with my wide-angle lens, from a height of 4 and half ft., I asked Captain Fritz, who was standing at my side, if I could go behind the barricade and get a close-up shot of the casings.

He told me that it would be better if I got my shots from outside the barricade. He then rounded the pile of boxes and entered the enclosure. This was the first time anybody walked between the barricade and the windows.

Fritz then walked to the casings, picked them up and held them in his hand over the top of the barricade for me to get a close-up shot of the evidence. I filmed between 3–4 seconds of a close-up shot of the shell casings in Captain Fritz's hand.

Fritz did not return them to the floor and he did not have them in his hand when he was examining the shooting support boxes. I stopped filming and thanked him. I have been asked many times if I thought it was peculiar that the Captain of Homicide picked up evidence with his hands.

Actually, that was the first thought that came to me when he did it, but I rationalized that he was the homicide expert and no prints could be taken from spent shell casings. Over thirty minutes later, after the rifle was discovered and the crime lab arrived, Capt. Fritz reached into his pocket and handed the casings to Det. Studebaker to include in the photographs he would take of the sniper's nest crime scene.

We stayed at the rifle site to watch Lt. Day dust the rifle. You have seen my footage of this. Studebaker never saw the original placement of the casings so he tossed them on the floor and photographed them. Therefore, any photograph of shell casings taken after this is staged and not correct. (

It should be noted that Alyea also said that the shells were in close proximity to each other at first appearance. There are two other witnesses who back him on this: Roger Craig and Mooney. (Cover-Up, J. Gary Shaw with Larry Harris, p. 70) That is not the way they appear in the Commission volumes. (Commission Exhibit 512) Once the “official crime scene” photographs were taken, Lt. Day and Detective Sims proceeded to collect the shells from the sixth floor.

II. Chain of Custody of the Shells

During his testimony before the Commission, Day stated what course of action he took in relation to preserving the shells as evidence.

Mr. Belin – All right. Let me first hand you what has been marked as “Commission Exhibit,” part of “Commission Exhibit 543, 544,” and ask you to state if you know what that is.

Mr. Day – This is the envelope the shells were placed in.

Mr. Belin – How many shells were placed in that envelope?

Mr. Day – Three.

Mr. Belin – It says here that, it is written on here, "Two of the three spent hulls under window on sixth floor.

Mr. Day – Yes, sir.

Mr. Belin – Did you put all three there?

Mr. Day – Three were in there when they were turned over to Detective Sims at that time. The only writing on it was “Lieut. J. C. Day.” Down here at the bottom.

Mr. Belin – I see.

Mr. Day – Dallas Police Department and the date.

Mr. Belin – In other words, you didn’t put the writing in that says two of the three spent hulls.

Mr. Day – Not then. About 10 o’clock in the evening this envelope came back to me with two hulls in it. I say it came to me, it was in a group of stuff, a group of evidence, we were getting ready to release to the FBI. I don't know who brought them back. Vince Drain, FBI, was present with the stuff, the first I noticed it. At that time there were two hulls inside. I was advised the homicide division was retaining the third for their use. At that time, I marked the two hulls inside of this, still inside this envelope.

Mr. Belin – That envelope, which is a part of Commission Exhibits 543 and 544?

Mr. Day – Yes, sir; I put the additional marking on at that time.

Mr. Belin – I see.

Mr. Day – You will notice there is a little difference in the ink writing.

Mr. Belin – But all of the writing there is yours?

Mr. Day – Yes, sir.

Mr. Belin – Now, at what time did you put any initials, if you did put any such initials, on the hull itself?

Mr. Day – At about 10 o’clock when I noticed it back in the identification bureau in this envelope.

Mr. Belin – Had the envelope been opened yet or not?

Mr. Day – Yes, sir; it had been opened.

Mr. Belin – Had the shells been out of your possession then?

Mr. Day – Mr. Sims had the shells from the time they were moved from the building or he took them from me at that time, and the shells I did not see again until around 10 o’clock.

Mr. Belin – Who gave them to you at 10 o’clock?

Mr. Day – They were in this group of evidence being collected to turn over to the FBI. I don't know who brought them back.

Mr. Belin – Was the envelope sealed?

Mr. Day – No, sir.

Mr. Belin – Had it been sealed when you gave it to Mr. Sims?

Mr. Day – No, sir; no. (WCH, Vol. IV, pp. 25354)

Belin also elicits the following:

Mr. Belin – Your testimony now is that you did not mark any of the hulls at the scene?

Mr. Day – Those three; no, sir. (WCH, Vol. IV, p. 255)

Further, in his testimony, Day states he recognizes CE 543, because it has the initials GD on it. Surprisingly, Day failed to acknowledge the other defining characteristic on 543. Contained on the lip of the shell is a dent, which has led many experts to conclude that this shell could not have held a bullet which was fired during the assassination. But he did admit that this very peculiarly dented shell was not sent to the FBI the night of the assassination. It is surprising that after Day admits this, Belin does not ask the obvious question: Why was it not sent up?

Mr. Belin – Now, I am going to ask you to state if you know what Commission Exhibit 543 is?

Mr. Day – That is a hull that does not have my marking on it.

Mr. Belin – Do you know whether or not this was one of the hulls that was found at the School Book Depository Building?

Mr. Day – I think it is.

Mr. Belin – What makes you think it is?

Mr. Day – It has the initials “G.D.” on it, which is George Doughty, the captain that I worked under.

Mr. Belin – Was he there at the scene?

Mr. Day – No, sir; this hull came up, this hull that is not marked came up, later. I didn't send that. (WCH, Vol. IV, p. 255)

Note what Day seems to be saying. He says it was marked by someone who was not at the crime scene. Again, Belin asks for no clarification as to when Doughty marked the shell. What makes this questioning even more off key is that Belin admits that he pre-interviewed Day in Dallas. And now Day has changed his story. At that prior interview, he admits that he told Belin that he did initial the shells. He now tells Belin that after he thought it over, no he did not mark any of them at the scene. (Ibid, p. 255). At this point, Belin actually said he should strike everything and start all over again.

It later got even worse. In a letter to the Commission dated April 23, 1964, Day then throws his identification of CE 543 and their subsequent chain of custody into serious doubt:


In regard to the third hull which I stated has GD for George Doughty scratched on it, Captain Doughty does not remember handling this.

Please check again to see if possibly it can be VD or VED for Vince Drain.

Very truly yours,

J. C. Day

Through Day’s testimony, we elicit that he did not mark the shells at the scene of the crime even though they were in his possession. Furthermore, he placed these unmarked shells into an unsealed envelope.

This is a weird situation. And Belin does not seem to bat an eyelash while he is discovering it or the fact that the witness changed his story. Under these circumstances, how could Day swear under oath that the shells being presented in evidence against Oswald were the same ones allegedly found in the aftermath of the president’s murder? When he neglected to mark them at the scene and then proceeded to place them in an unsealed, unmarked envelope?

III. Tom Alyea writes to the ARRB

Lt. Day’s testimony is also disputed by press photographer Tom Alyea. He was the first such cameraman allowed entry into the crime scene. In a letter to the ARRB’s Tom Samoluk dated 8-15-97, Alyea states that:

Regarding the perjured testimony given to the Warren Commission Investigators by members of the Dallas Police Department. I understand there were several cases, but the one I checked for myself by reading the printed testimony in the Warren Report, involves Lt. Day and Det. Studebaker. These are the two crime lab men who dusted the evidence on the 6th floor. Their testimony is false from beginning to end.

This is what should have happened. According to Tom Alyea, Fritz was the first detective on the scene to come into contact with the shells. Fritz should have marked these shells at the scene in accordance with the chain of custody. Fritz then gave the shells to Det. Studebaker.

Studebaker should have then proceeded to mark these shells at the scene. But what the evidence seems to indicate is that Studebaker then threw the shells down on the floor of the south east corner window and captured the “crime scene” photos.

Lt. Day then retrieved the shells from the floor with help from Det. Sims. Day should have marked these shells at the scene and then put them into a sealed envelope, clearly stating what lay therein. Instead, Day gave up possession of the shells without adding his markings, which in turn lay in an unmarked, unsealed envelope.

The envelope remained unsealed when Day took back possession of these hulls at 10 p.m. on 11/22/63. Sims should have marked the shells at the crime scene while in his possession. But yet, Sims did not even recall picking up the shells. In a remarkable exchange with David Belin, he admitted that in his first Commission interview with Joe Ball, he did not mention doing this. In fact, at that time, he attributed the carrying of the envelope with the shells to Lt. Day. When Ball asked him if he took possession, he denied it. (WCH, Vol. VII, p. 163)

There had to have been a conference between Belin and Ball about this and Sims must have been made aware of their worries. Because two days after the April 6th Ball interview, Sims was recalled. This is what worried them: Belin knew that Day was going to testify that he turned over the unsealed envelope with shells to Sims. Therefore, they needed Sims on the record for this transfer. (WCH, Vol. IV, p. 256) Therefore, when he was returned to the stand, this time his questioner was Belin. And in almost no time flat, Belin is asking Sims about this specific point: the chain of custody of the shells. Sims now says that two days ago, he did not recall who brought the shells to the police station. But now, mirabile dictu, he says it was him! (WCH, Vol. VII, p. 183) So he has done a virtual 180 degree turn on this. After this pirouette, Belin asks Sims: Well, how did you remember that it was you who brought the cartridges to the station? Sims replies that, in the interval, he talked to Captain Will Fritz and his partner E. L. Boyd; they helped refresh his memory as to what happened.

So, in handling the most important pieces of evidence in the biggest case he ever worked on, Sims forgot he brought the cartridge cases to the station. But then, thanks to Will Fritz, he now recalled he did. But even then, this was included in his testimony:

Mr. Belin – Do you remember whether or not you ever initialled the hulls?

Mr. Sims – I don't know if I initialled the hulls or not. (WCH, Vol. VII, p. 186)

There are established rules in the judicial system that every police department must follow with regards to the preservation of evidence. By no stretch of the imagination did the Dallas Police comply with any of them. It is a fact that had Oswald been permitted to stand trial Commission Exhibits 543/544/545 would have been a focus of serious questioning by defense counsel.

For example, in addition to all the above, there is the dent problem that CE 543 presents. Ballistics expert Howard Donahue has said this cartridge could not have been used to fire a bullet that day since the weapon would not have discharged properly. (Bonar Menninger, Mortal Error, p. 114) People like Gerald Posner, Vince Bugliosi, and Robert Blakey have said, well it could have been dented in the firing. Donahue replied to this by saying, “There were no shells dented in that manner by the HSCA…I have never seen a case dented like this.” (Letter dated September 11, 1996, emphasis in original.) Both Josiah Thompson and British researcher Chris Mills tried in every way to dent a 6.5 mm Western Cartridge case like this one was. They failed. Mills concluded that the only way it could be done was through loading empty shells, and only on rare occasion. (James DiEugenio, The JFK Assassination: The Evidence Today, p. 95)

If only that were the end of it. Thompson wrote in Six Seconds in Dallas that CE 543 contained three identifying marks revealing it had been loaded and extracted at least thrice before. (Thompson, p. 144) These were not found on the other cartridge cases. But it’s even more puzzling than that. As Thompson wrote:

Of all the various marks discovered on this case, only one set links it to the follower. Yet the magazine follower marks only the last cartridge in the clip… (Thompson, p. 145)

The last cartridge in the clip was not this one. It was the live round.

IV. Lt. Day versus Sebastian Latona

With the alleged discovery of the Mannlicher Carcano on the sixth floor in the aftermath of the president’s murder, the rifle was bound to be subjected to fingerprint analysis by the Dallas police. Lt. Day, who had applied fingerprint powder to the rifle on the sixth floor, had apparently discovered partial prints near the trigger guard of the weapon. Day testified to that effect.

John McCloy – When was the rifle as such dusted with fingerprint powder?

Lt. Day – After ejecting the live round, then I gave my attention to the rifle. I put fingerprint powder on the side of the rifle over the magazine housing. I noticed it was rather rough. I also noticed there were traces of two prints visible. I told Captain Fritz it was too rough to do there, it should go to the office where I would have better facilities for trying to work with the fingerprints.

JM – But you could note with your naked eye or with a magnifying glass the remnants of fingerprints on the stock?

JCD – Yes, sir; I could see traces of ridges, fingerprint ridges, on the side of the housing. (WCH, Vol. IV, p. 259)

Upon the discovery of such incriminating evidence it would be logical to assume that Day would leave the depository, post haste, to process the latent prints found upon the suspected murder weapon. These prints could have been paramount for the Dallas police in their case in unmasking the President’s murderer. But while Day indeed had left the depository with the rifle, he opted to return to the Depository without processing the prints in order to conduct a press tour of the sixth floor. Thus, meaning that valuable evidence lay unprocessed whilst Day played tour guide to the media!

Later that night Day eventually proceeded to take photographs of the latent prints found on the rifle. These were taken around 8pm on 11/22/63. (Sylvia Meagher, Accessories after the Fact, p. 122) Day was alleged to have been ordered by Chief of Police Jesse Curry to “go no further in the processing of the rifle,” because the evidence pertaining to the murder was to be sent to the FBI crime lab in Washington DC. (Meagher, p. 122) The assassination of President Kennedy would not fall under federal jurisdiction until after the public killing of Lee Oswald. So why was the bulk of the core evidence being transferred to the FBI on 11/23/63? Amongst the evidence sent to the FBI were negatives of the partial prints, along with the Mannlicher itself. Here is what FBI fingerprint expert Sebastian Latona said with regards to the partial prints found on the trigger guard:

SL – There had, in addition to this rifle and that paper bag, which I received on the 23rd—there had also been submitted to me some photographs which had been taken by the Dallas Police Department, at least alleged to have been taken by them, of these prints on this trigger guard which they developed. I examined the photographs very closely and I still could not determine any latent value in the photograph. (WCH, Vol. IV, p. 21)

He then goes on to describe that:

SL – I made arrangements to immediately have a photographer come in and see if he could improve on the photographs that were taken by the Dallas Police Department. Well, we spent, between the two of us, setting up the camera, looking at prints, highlighting, sidelighting, every type of lighting that we could conceivably think of, checking back and forth in the darkroom—we could not improve the condition of these latent prints. So, accordingly, the final conclusion was simply that the latent print on this gun was of no value. (WCH, Vol. IV, p. 21)

Latona then concluded the following about his overall attempt to garner any such print evidence from the rifle.

SL – I was not successful in developing any prints at all on the weapon. (WCH, Vol. IV, p. 23, we shall return to this testimony later)

The latent prints were, therefore, deemed to be valueless by the FBI. And valueless they remained until 1993 when author Gary Savage co-published a book with former Dallas police officer Rusty Livingston titled First Day Evidence. Savage was the nephew of Livingston. This publication would claim that not only did the Dallas Police have evidence of Oswald’s “palm-print” on C2766, but they also had a partial print, identified as Oswald’s, near the trigger guard of the weapon. According to researcher Pat Speer, Savage came to this conclusion by

…working with a fingerprint examiner named Jerry Powdrill, [of the West Monroe, Louisiana, Police Department, who] claimed that the most prominent print apparent on the DPD’s photos of the trigger guard matched Oswald’s right middle finger on three points, and shared “very similar characteristics” on three more. Powdrill said, moreover, that this gave him a “gut feeling” the prints were a match. (Pat Speer, Chapter 4e: Un-smoking the Gun)

“Gut feelings” do not always produce forensically sound and reliable evidence.

In 1993 PBS aired the Frontline series program, “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?” Up for evaluation was the partial print found near the trigger guard which First Day Evidence claimed belonged to Oswald. PBS decided to run Rusty’s pictures through various fingerprint experts. Their first two experts, Powdrill and George Bonebrake, would not go on the record as saying such prints were Oswald’s. There simply were not enough points of identification. For example, in the British system, fifteen points are necessary. In the USA, depending on which state you are in, it’s between eight and twelve. Powdrill, for example, could only find three. (Gary Savage, First Day Evidence, p. 109)

What makes this notable is the following, Bonebrake was a longtime veteran in the fingerprint field. In fact, according to the book Forensic Evidence, Science and Criminal Law by Terrence Kiely, Bonebrake worked for the FBI as a fingerprint examiner from 1941–78. In his last three years with the Bureau, he was in charge of its latent print section. He supervised 100 examiners and 65 support people. He then went into private practice. (Click here for another source)

Come hell or high water, Frontline was determined to use this alleged Oswald fingerprint. We shall see how determined they were. But first let us pose some queries that the late producer of the show, Mike Sullivan, should have asked Rusty. Recall, the Dallas Police were getting all kinds of challenges about any prints of value from the media back in 1963–64. Since the illustrious Latona had declared there were none he could find, very few people accepted the Lt. Day palm print on the stock of the rifle. For one, the palm print on the barrel “was under the wooden stock of the rifle and could not be disturbed unless the weapon was disassembled.” (Meagher, p. 121) So would this not protect it from any kind of disturbance? How could the FBI have missed it?

Secondly, unlike the rest of the rifle, there was no trace of powder on the area the palmprint was supposed to be. Although Latona did get pictures from the Dallas Police of their examination of the rifle, there were none for where this palm print was alleged to be located. Further, there was “no verbal or written notification by Lt. Day calling attention to it.” (Meagher, p. 122) Day tried to excuse this by saying he took no pictures of the palm print since he had been directed to give the evidence over to the FBI. As Meagher notes there is a serious problem with this statement. Day was working on the rifle at 8 PM. He did not get the order about the FBI from Curry until “shortly before midnight.” (Meagher, p. 122) Four hours is a long time to remove the wooden stock and take a photo. Also, why did the police not photograph the palm print before lifting it? Latona testified this was common practice.

As Henry Hurt later wrote, even J. Lee Rankin, the Commission’s chief counsel doubted the authenticity of the palm print. He even suggested that it may have come from “some other source.” (Hurt, p. 108) Vincent Drain, the courier to the FBI from Dallas, told Hurt in 1984, that Day never indicated to him anything about such a print. He said “I just don’t believe there was ever a print.” Drain said there was lot of pressure on the DPD. This pressure got to the police which is why DA Henry Wade took until Sunday night, after Oswald was killed, to say someone had found a palm print on the rifle. So, it took nearly two days and the murder of Oswald for Wade to be informed of the palm print? And then it took another two days for it to be sent to the FBI. Finally—and this is telling—when the Warren Commission asked Day to sign an affidavit that he had identified the print before the rifle was turned over to the FBI, Day refused to do so. (Jim Marrs, Crossfire, p. 445)

Because of all the above, and more, no credible researcher took the palm print as being legitimate.

V. The Sullivan/Scalice Dog and Pony Show

As written above, in the midst of all the dubious points about the palmprint, in 1993 PBS and Frontline were determined to use Rusty’s other print, the one on the trigger guard. How did producer Mike Sullivan get around the morass presented above? Right off the bat, Sullivan should have called Rusty into his office and asked the following questions:

Sullivan – You knew all the problems that the Commission was having with the FBI about the palm print. If you had this other alleged fingerprint laying around, why did you not send that one to the Commission?

Rusty – Well…

Sullivan – Alright, but then why not send it to either Jim Garrison or Clay Shaw’s lawyers for use at the Shaw trial in 1969? I mean that went on for two years and was all over the media.

Rusty – Well…

Sullivan – Alright, but then why not send it to the Church Committee? They had a sub-committee that was inquiring into the JFK case. My God that was the lead story on the nightly news for months on end, it was in all the papers and news magazines. Jack Anderson wrote about it. You couldn’t have missed that.

Rusty – Well…

Sullivan – Alright, but then why not send it to the House Select Committee on Assassinations? They were around for three years!

Rusty – Well Mike…

Does anyone think that an experienced TV producer like the late Mike Sullivan was not aware of the value of asking such questions? Especially after Powdrill and Bonebrake refused to go on camera. The latter told Frontline that the prints were not clear enough to make an identification of anyone. “They lack enough characteristic ridge detail to be of value for identification purposes,” (Speer, Chapter 4e: Un-smoking the Gun)

As we shall see, it is utterly bizarre that it was Vince Scalice who finally did decide to go on camera. And this shows just how desperate Mike Sullivan and Frontline were. Why? Because Scalice posed serious liabilities as an authority, because he had previously studied these prints in 1978 for the HSCA. At that time, he came to the same opinion that the other two Frontline experts had. It was this earlier opinion which he and Sullivan tried to obfuscate out of the record. (See HSCA, Vol. 8, p. 248)

As Speer has noted, Scalice, after viewing Livingston’s copies of the prints, now proclaimed to PBS FRONTLINE:

I took the photographs. There were a total of four photographs in all. I began to examine them. I saw two faint prints, and as I examined them, I realized that the prints had been taken at different exposures, and it was necessary for me to utilize all of the photographs to compare against the inked prints. As I examined them, I found that by maneuvring the photographs in different positions, I was able to pick up some details on one photograph and some details on another photograph. Using all the photographs at different contrasts…I was able to find in the neighbourhood of about eighteen points of identity in the two prints.

Further from the PBS transcript:

When Vincent Scalice examined photographs of the trigger guard prints in 1978 for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, he apparently only had the one or two Dallas police photographs that were part of the Warren Commission files. “I have to assume,” says Scalice, “that my original examination and comparison was carried out in all probability on one photograph. And that photograph was apparently a poor quality photograph, and the latent prints did not contain a sufficient amount of detail in order to effect an identification. I know for a fact that I did not see all these four photographs in 1978, because if I had, I would have been able to make an identification at that point in time.” (Speer, Chapter 4e: Un-smoking the Gun)

Note the use of words like “apparently,” phrases like “I have to assume” and “in all probability.” Amid all this Scalice is claiming that, back in the day, the HSCA only furnished him with one photograph and this exhibit was substantially lacking in pictorial quality in order for him to make a positive identification as to the origin of the print.

There is a serious problem with Scalice’s statement. The records of the HSCA don’t support it. Consider the following:

Captioned: Red’d FBI 11/22/63

6-5 mm Mannlicher-Carcano Rifle

Photos of Latents on rifle

Contents 8 small negs w/10 small prints.

(HSCA Admin Folder M-3, p. 6)

So how could Scalice claim to work from only one “poor quality photograph” when the HSCA, who had employed him to ID the partial prints, had 8 small negatives with 10 small prints of the partials on the trigger guard? That number and date suggests that the HSCA had both the FBI and DPD prints of this area.

The other problem is this new technique Scalice was trying to sell. As Gil Jesus, a former investigator with experience in fingerprinting, has said: that is not the way it’s done. One does not piece partials together. One analyzes each individual partial and you compare it to the whole print. As Gil concluded, what Scalice claimed he did was like using a door of a Dodge, the hood of a Chevy and fender of a Ford, and then you claim it’s a Cadillac. (Gil Jesus posting on the Education Forum, July 15, 2021)

But further, in some quarters, the Livingston pictures were hailed as being a new “set.” Note that Scalice said he had four different pictures. When one separates the blow ups from the originals, this is not the case. It is very likely that the actual photos Livingston produced were just two. (Click here for details) PBS also tried to say the trigger guard prints had been ignored prior to 1993. This was also false. They had been examined by both the FBI and the HSCA. And it is with that statement that Mike Sullivan and Frontline probably committed their most grievous journalistic sin. For at the 40th anniversary of Kennedy’s murder in 2003, they wrote the following piece of narration: “The FBI says it never looked at the Dallas police photographs of the fingerprints…”

In his Warren Commission testimony, Latona said the opposite. He stated that he did examine photos of the trigger guard area sent by the DPD. (WCH, Vol. IV, p. 21) In fact, the FBI’s Gemberling Report states that at least three of these were sent to FBI headquarters. But Latona went beyond that. He said he examined the area with a magnifying glass. (WCH, Vol. IV, p. 20) He then called in a photographer and took his own pictures. He tried everything, “highlighting, side-lighting, every type of lighting that we could conceivably think of…” He then broke down the weapon into its assembly parts. It was at this point that he concluded there were no prints of value on the rifle. (WCH, Vol. IV, p. 23)

It is one thing to be in error. Everyone makes mistakes. But when a program states as fact the contrary of what happened, then the public has the right to suspect that Mr. Sullivan and Frontline had an agenda. Does anyone really think that everyone involved in the program failed to read Latona’s sworn testimony?

In a court of law, Vincent Scalice would have been required to produce evidence which would support his new and revised conclusions and explain why he had reversed himself. He would have to show a chart with photos of the (new) 18 points of identification between the prints on the rife, C2766, and those of the accused Lee Harvey Oswald. He would have had to explain why he could do it now, but not before. And also, why Powdrill, Bonebrake, and Latona could not do what he did.

Yet Scalice never offered up any evidence to support his conclusions. No charts were produced by Scalice, or by PBS. These are necessary in order to show, irrefutably, the points of comparison between a print of Lee Oswald and that of the latent print on C2766. Supplementary material such as an evidence chart is a basic fundamental requirement in order to evaluate an “expert” opinion. And like many of the other pronouncements of “evidence” against the accused, these proclamations almost never hold up under any sort of scrutiny. At a trial, with a knowledgeable attorney and an opposing authority, Scalice would have been in a very sorry position.

But, at the foot of Mike Sullivan, Scalice had learned how to sell himself in the world of partisan politics. Two years down the line he joined the board of Newsmax. Now, as a document examiner, he said that the note Vince Foster had written and placed in his briefcase before shooting himself was really a forgery.

This is what the JFK case does to the fields of legal identification and examination. The late Mike Sullivan has a lot to answer for in this regard, because PBS was duplicating the same evidentiary hijinks on the 50th anniversary. And these were also exposed as empty subterfuges of the actual facts. (Click here for details)

By his work in 1993, Mike Sullivan helped transform PBS into the equivalent of a forensic circus on the JFK case.

Last modified on Sunday, 17 October 2021 23:19
Johnny Cairns

Johnny Cairns is an electrician living in Edinburgh. He first got interested in President Kennedy through his father, Robert Cairns. Since then, he has held an undying admiration for Jack Kennedy and what he stood for. Through familiarizing himself with the facts of this crime, he has also became an advocate for the innocence of his alleged assassin, Lee Oswald. Through the various friendship’s developed with other researchers and making the trip to Dallas in 2018, he has spoken at JFK Lancer presenting the case for Oswald’s innocence and co-authored a book which is due for release at the end of 2021, titled “Case Not Closed.”

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