My favorite single law school class occurred during Evidence. The professor had us take out pen and paper. He asked us to write down his age and height and weight. He asked us to describe, without turning, what was on the wall above the door through which we exited daily. So we had him 40-to-60. We had him 5’6″ to 5’11”, from 140 to 180 pounds. Most of us knew there was a clock on the wall. No one knew there was a thermostat. Three of us remembered a non-existent painting, which, as the professor put it, “In case of a fire, you would be prepared to come into court and place a value on it.” And that was us a group of keen-eyed, aggressively competitive second-year law students paying direct attention. Imagine if someone had shot him from a nearby building before he spoke.
Memories are chemicals. They fade in or are augmented by the passage of time or other events or how we wish or expect things to be. They are shaped by wishes to conform and please and live up to expectations and out of fear. They are influenced by wishes to enhance one’s role in situations or desire for financial or other gain.
I mention all this before I discuss eyewitnesses.
It seems central to James Douglass’s theory that, following the shots that killed President Kennedy, a man closely resembling Lee Harvey Oswald coming from the rear of the Texas Book Depository Building entered a green Rambler station wagon and left the scene. It seems clear there was a Rambler. (John McAdams says photos confirm its presence.) It could be a man entered it, but it was not likely it was Oswald. (A former landlady identified him as entering a bus not far from the TBD, and a transfer in his pocket after his arrest established the time he was aboard.) For JD’s case, this man was an Oswald impersonator who, as I understand it, then killed Officer Tippit and led police to the Texas Theater where Oswald was caught.
JD leads with Dallas police sergeant Roger Craig. Craig says that 10 minutes (JM and VB have him saying 15 minutes) after the shooting, he saw a man coming toward Elm Street from the rear of the TBD, where he was picked up by the Rambler, driven by a husky Latin male, which was headed west. (VB says Craig said the driver could have been Negro.) RC later confronted this man (or, rather, someone who looked like him, the actual LHO), while he was being questioned in the office of Craig’s superior, Capt. Will Fritz, at which point O linked the Rambler to Ruth Paine, a friend of his and his wife, whom JD had previously semi-linked to the CIA.
There are problems with Craig’s credibility. For one, Fritz denied Craig was ever in his office with Oswald. (JD chooses not to believe Fritz because, for one thing, he did not follow up when presented Rose Cherabi’s tale.) For a second, as VB points out, it seems odd for LHO to have admitted any involvement in the killing, since otherwise he steadfastly denied any role in it. (And since LHO left in a bus, it would mean he knew an impostor was leaving by Rambler.) Third, JM says both the DPD and FBI confirmed that Paine owned a Chevvy wagon, not a Rambler. (JD chooses not to believe the FBI since the agent reporting that, he alleges, destroyed other evidence. He does not mention the DPD.) Fourth, Craig also placed himself on the sixth floor, where the shooter’s rifle and cartridge hulls were found, but his description of the rifle and placement of the shells conflicts with other accounts. Fifth, in 1971, Craig gave an account which had Tippit being shot at 1:06, which would have meant LHO could not have shot him, which is fine for JD, but most others say the shooting occurred at 1:15, when LHO could have; but in 1968 he had believed that the shooting had occurred at 1:40. (JD does not mention this.) Finally, Craig would later write an unpublished book which recounted five attempts on his life, including being shot at, run off the road, and having his car dynamited. He would later commit suicide – or, according to some theorists, be killed. VB has pointed out it is surprising that a conspiracy that killed a president would have such difficulty killing Craig – or why it would need to, since he had already given his evidence. (JD mentions none of this, but he does buttress Craig’s report of the Rambler man with the accounts of other witnesses.)