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Wednesday, 05 May 2021 05:42

A final response to the rebuttal of my review of the book Last Second in Dallas

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Randy Robertson responds to the rebuttal of his review of Josiah Thompson’s book Last Second in Dallas (LSD) authored by Gary Aguilar MD, Doug Desalles MD, and Bill Simpich, in an attempt to correct their errors and egregious false claims.


Recently a rebuttal to my review of the book Last Second in Dallas (LSD), authored by Gary Aguilar M.D., Doug Desalles M.D., and Bill Simpich, was posted on the AARC website. The errors and false claims were so egregious that I felt I had to respond. The authors selectively chose five points in my review to respond to, where they claim my conclusions are in error. They studiously avoided any of the mathematically based arguments which were contained in the review.

Point #1. The location of the entry wound in the shirt sleeve which carried dark wool fibers into Connally’s wrist wound.

This is a critical determination. The sine qua non for their theory is that the entry hole in the jacket sleeve and the entry hole in the shirt are in alignment at frame 328 when they claim a fragment of a bullet passed through both simultaneously. The unchallengeable photos show an entry hole in the jacket sleeve adjacent to the seam which runs on the thumb side opposite the buttons which are not seen. Another photo depicts a hole in the mid portion of the French cuff which is also on the thumb side opposite the cufflink holes which are not seen in this photo. These two holes are both located on the thumb side and I thought it would been clearly so obvious that I did not include a photo of the other hole in the jacket sleeve, which is enlightening. In the rebuttal, the authors have referenced this third photo with the claim that it depicts the actual entry hole in the shirt sleeve. It can easily be seen that this hole is immediately adjacent to the cufflink holes which are located ~ 180 degrees opposite the other two holes. Further, Dr. Gregory’s surgical report is corroborative. From HSCA Vol. VII p. 152, emphasis added, “Throughout the wound and especially in the superficial layers and to some extent in the tendon and tendon sheaths on the radial side of the arm are small fine bits of cloth consistent with fine bits of mohair.” Dr. Gregory’s diagram of the wounds clearly shows that the entry wound was on the radial, thumb side of the wrist. The sketch of the wound, albeit of the left hand, found in the postoperative notes shows that this wound was on the thumb side. If any questions persist the Texas State Library and Archives Commission webpages had the measurements of these wounds under each of the photographs. For their conjectured entry hole: “Distance of bullet hole to the right of the seam defining the cuff opening = 1 inch.” For the defect in the midportion of the French cuff: “Distance of bullet hole to the right of the seam defining the cuff opening = 5 1/4 inches; also 3 3/4 inches from the left of the cuff opening.”  With two coauthors being physicians, I would have expected the determination of radial, thumb versus ulnar to be elementary. Why did they make this ludicrous claim? Frankly, they had no other option, because they know at frame 328 the two holes on the thumb side were no longer in alignment. This misalignment at 328 destroys the sine qua non of their theory of a fragment carrying wool fibers simultaneously through these two holes. They had no other option and reflexively made the ill-formed argument that it was a hole on the other side of the wrist which was the one of entry.  As I stated in my review, this observation, in and of itself, negates the theory that a shot was fired from the Grassy Knoll to strike the head at frame 313. Having mislocated an entry wound to the wrong side of the wrist, the authors brazenly, with little style and no substance, claim that I have made a major error and that this somehow actually validates their theory when, in fact, the photographic evidence and findings at surgery do exactly the opposite and destroy their theory. While I would hope readers will continue on in reading my remarks on points 2 through 5, they need not do so. While there are numerous other errors on their part, the misalignment of the entry holes on 328 means that events could never have occurred in the sequence they claim.

Point #2. The significance of the windshield flare at frame 314.

It is correctly pointed out that the chrome windshield frame was already reflecting light both prior to and for several frames after 314, as a critical angle occurred for reflective surfaces. As the frames progress after 314 and the angles are changing, this maximum reflection can be seen moving up the chrome windshield frame causing previously reflecting surfaces to diminish in intensity back to baseline. At frame 314, there is the initial abrupt appearance of an increase in reflection in the lower corner of the windshield. This could only be due to a physical factor. The sun did not increase in intensity as the degree of reflection before and after this flare is the same. Some brief physical factor must have been responsible, a bullet cracking the windshield. Had it been actually due to a critical angle then this same focus of intensity should have been seen moving to other locations as the angle continuously changed. The small focus of increased reflectivity over adjacent areas was the result of a small degree of deformation of the windshield and/or frame that briefly increased the intensity over the previous and subsequent baselines. While there are qualitative differences in the flares at 314 and 328, both occur on the initial frame after known impacts at 313 and 328.  Where the author’s see an incredibly propitious timing of the angle to the sun, I see cause and effect. The refutation of point #1 means that a bullet went forward through JFK’s head with fragments simultaneously striking Connally’s aligned wrist wounds and cracking the windshield with a resultant flare over baseline at frame 314. Similarly, a bullet struck the windshield frame at 328 to cause a flare on the very next frame at 329. I see cause and effect.

Point #3.  The significance of the forward movement of Connally’s right wrist after frame 313.

Again, from the refutation provided on point #1, it can be concluded that a fragment from the head shot went forward at 313 to cause the wrist wound. Whether this fragment caused this movement or if it was voluntary or a combination of the both is immaterial. When he was struck at 313, the earliest voluntary motion we should see would be 4 frames later or 317. I believe I can see more of the French cuff at 317 versus 312. Connally was turning to his right and his hand was in motion prior to his wounding, which would indicate that both factors may have been at work in this forward movement. What is more important is that due this movement, from frame 323 onward, his French cuff was completely exposed and the both holes on the thumb side of the jacket sleeve and French cuff are no longer in alignment. Also immaterial is whether Connally kept holding his hat after being struck at 313. The late Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii had his arm blown off while fighting in WWII. Immediately afterwards he saw his disembodied hand still clutching the grenade he had been holding prior to this traumatic amputation. This is an example of decades old inconclusive claim which is pulled out when debating at what point his wrist was struck. It was 313. The alignment of the entry holes is the ultimate determinate.

Point #4 The significance of the recovered bullet fragments.

Two major bullet fragments were recovered from the limousine, CE 567 and 569, which are purported to ballistically match Oswald’s rifle based upon evaluations, which until recently, have been human and subjective in nature. The bias of AFTE members is well known to the authors. Direct verification of Dr. Young and Mill’s claims will most likely never occur and the veracity of their claims can only be deduced from other evidence. If an independent, nonbiased ballistic comparison is performed which shows with a high degree of confidence that CE 567 and 569 came from Oswald’s rifle, then Young and Mill’s claims are in error. If so, then the bullet which struck the windshield frame fragmented and the fragments of the bullet which went forward through JFK’s head were not recovered. Frazier’s comments on the damage done by a whole bullet’s impact are simply assumptions as he readily stated in his testimony. From numerous other avenues it is known that the bullet which went forward through JFK’s head at frame 313 was fired from a distance further than the TSBD and therefore from another rifle. I trust these many avenues which indicate a different rifle more than I trust the subjective opinions of biased examiners. The NIST scans of the bullets and fragments from the assassination provides the opportunity to subject them to nonbiased computer algorithmic comparisons. If the computer analysis demonstrates that previous biased human opinions were in error, then we should not be surprised. Such was the case when numerous governmental diagnostic radiologists interpreted the postmortem skull radiographs without recognizing Puppe’s law.

Point #5. The significance of the acoustic data.

The sole basis for a shot being fired from the knoll to strike JFK in the head is the supposed 95%+ probability given for this shot by the analysis of Weiss and Ashkenasy. That is blindly taken for granted in LSD and by the present authors. How can we go about verifying their conclusion? Dr. Barger cautioned the HSCA that any proposed shots on the tape needed to be compared with events on the film. Since the HSCA disbanded, impacts have been identified on the film at frame 223 and 328, in addition to the previously known head wound at frame 313. This allows a mathematical synchronization of the film and tape by various measurements which the authors and I agree upon. The authors and LSD have assiduously avoided providing calculations which would validate the conclusions of Weiss and Ashkenasy. I have done the calculations and a shot purportedly fired from the Grassy Knoll to be recorded at 144.90 seconds does not synchronize with the preceding and subsequent shots recorded at 140.32 and 145.61 seconds respectively. Should we be surprised then, when other avenues of validation fail for this shot as well? The blur at 313 is a horizontal panning error not the downward deviation seen on all other blurs. The timing is too soon to be an involuntary reaction by Zapruder. The head moves initially forward. The misalignment of the entry holes at 328 proves their scenario impossible just as does the lack of synchronization. Does this mean that the acoustic evidence is invalidated? Not at all, it just means Weiss and Ashkenasy’s echolocation was in error and that things need to be thought out over again. When I first approached the acoustic evidence, I was immediately struck by the final change in the timing of Barger’s muzzle blast at 145.15, which he has a 50/50 probability to 144.90 seconds. While only ¼ of a second difference, this seemed to be a huge change in a sequence that ran 6 seconds. After calculations, I saw that Weiss and Ashkenasy’s shot didn’t synchronize and I thought outside the box. Knowing that there was a rapid forward and backward motion of the head, I conjectured that these represented two separate muzzle blasts and impacts, the first fired from behind and the second from the front, where Barger had initially found one. When I performed these calculations, I found out that, when this is taken into account, the film and tape synchronize. I have no control over the laws of math or the timing of the shots or any of the other variables. Math is reproducible and anyone with a map of Dealey Plaza, a ruler, and a calculator can arrive at the common and nondebatable conclusion that their conjectured shot does not synchronize and did not happen. This math will be the same today as it was in 1963, as well as 100 years from now.

Last modified on Monday, 10 May 2021 00:59
Randy Robertson

Dr. Robertson holds B.S., M.S., and M.D. degrees from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. He is a board certified diagnostic radiologist, the only one outside governmental review panels to be given permission to see the original autopsy materials at the National Archives. He has been involved in researching the JFK assassination since the early 90's and is a longstanding board member of the Assassination Archives and Research Center in Washington DC. He has presented at many conferences, as well as before the 1992 House hearings on the JFK Records Collection Act. He also presented at the 1993 national meeting of the National Association of Medical Examiners. He is currently semiretired and living in Tennessee.

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