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"ON TRIAL: LEE HARVEY OSWALD" -- A Personal Review

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#1 of 421 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted October 28 2008 - 05:54 PM




Another standout section of "On Trial" comes during the latter portion of the program, when noted conspiracy theorist and House Select Committee on Assassinations [HSCA] member Dr. Cyril H. Wecht takes the witness stand to face off against Vince Bugliosi.

The sparks begin to fly when Bugliosi wants Dr. Wecht to explain what happened to the intact bullet that exited President Kennedy's throat, heading downward and forward, directly toward Governor John Connally in the limousine (see the YouTube video below).

Although Wecht agrees with Bugliosi that the bullet did, indeed, go completely through JFK's body without deviating from its original flight path, Cyril also contends that the bullet did not strike Governor Connally at all. Instead, evidently it vanished into thin air without a trace. (Talk about a "magic bullet".)



Other witnesses who put in an appearance during the trial include (among a few others): Charles Brehm, Buell Wesley Frazier, Dallas police officer Marrion Baker (who actually stopped Oswald and spoke to him inside the Texas School Book Depository within minutes of JFK's assassination), Harold Norman, Johnny Brewer, Nelson Delgado, Edwin Lopez, Seth Kantor, Ted Callaway, Eugene Boone (the deputy sheriff who first discovered Oswald's rifle on the sixth floor of the Depository), William Newman, Dr. Vincent Guinn, Dr. Charles Petty, and FBI agent James Hosty (who was aware of Oswald's presence in Dallas weeks prior to 11/22/63).

(A full DVD chapter / witness list is provided later in this review.)

Vince Bugliosi puts on a strong prosecutor's case against Oswald in "On Trial", relying heavily, of course, on the wide array of physical and circumstantial evidence that easily shows Oswald to be guilty of not only killing President Kennedy, but also of murdering a second man on November 22, 1963 -- Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit, who was shot four times by Oswald on 10th Street in the Dallas suburb of Oak Cliff approximately 45 minutes after Kennedy was slain right in front of Oswald's workplace on Elm Street.

Gerry Spence, on the other hand, relies mainly on guesswork, unsupportable theories, and "what if" scenarios in his attempted (and anemic) defense of his "client", Lee H. Oswald.

Mr. Spence is a good showman, though, I must say that. He's fun to watch in the courtroom. And so is Bugliosi, I might add. But Spence's choice of witnesses to try and buttress his case for conspiracy was rather weak, to say the least, with only 7 witnesses called to the stand (per the final 5-hour version of the trial seen on Showtime anyway), with one of those seven being the laughable Tom Tilson. You can hear Tilson tell his crazy conspiracy-slanted tale here.

Mr. Tilson, a Dallas police officer in 1963, tells the jury about how Jack Ruby killed President Kennedy, with Tilson witnessing Ruby's getaway just after the assassination.

Not all of Tilson's testimony was shown on TV, however. Here's the text of a portion of Mr. Tilson's testimony that didn't make the final television cut (and it's a howl too). The following paragraph comes directly from Vincent Bugliosi's outstanding and comprehensive book on the assassination, "Reclaiming History":

"I asked Tilson why, if he believed the man he pursued was Ruby, didn't he give Dallas homicide Ruby's name when he called them with his information? Unbelievably, Tilson answered, "Well, I couldn't. Somebody might go get Jack Ruby and he might not have been guilty." (Translation: Never pursue any suspect to a crime because there's always a chance the suspect might not be guilty.)" -- Vincent T. Bugliosi; Page 879 of "Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy" (W.W. Norton)(c.2007)


In the end, thankfully, the real evidence against the defendant was able to conquer the fanciful "what ifs" in the minds of the jurors, and after six hours of deliberations, Lee Harvey Oswald was declared "Guilty" at the conclusion of the mock trial.

Three of those jurors, however, weren't convinced that there was no "conspiracy" to murder the President; but all twelve of them were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Lee Oswald did, in fact, kill John Kennedy.


Here are a few random text excerpts that can be found in "On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald":
  • "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." -- VINCENT BUGLIOSI (Opening Statement)
  • VINCENT BUGLIOSI -- "Mr. Frazier, is it true that you paid hardly any attention to this bag?"

    BUELL WESLEY FRAZIER -- "That is true."

    BUGLIOSI -- "So the bag could have been protruding out in front of his [Oswald's] body, and you wouldn't have been able to see it, is that correct?"

    FRAZIER -- "That is true."
  • BUGLIOSI -- "Did it sound to you like a rifle was being fired directly above you?"

    HAROLD NORMAN -- "Yes sir."

    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?"

    NORMAN -- "Yes sir."

    BUGLIOSI -- "And what is that?"

    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."

    BUGLIOSI -- "You're familiar with a bolt-action rifle?"

    NORMAN -- "Yes sir."
  • 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."
  • 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 the Marines] -- "Yes, he was." ....

    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?"

    DELGADO -- "Yes."

    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?"

    DELGADO -- "No."

    BUGLIOSI -- "He could have done better, you felt, if he tried?"

    DELGADO -- "Certainly."
  • BUGLIOSI -- "While he [Lee Oswald] was at your home did he ask you for any curtain rods?"

    RUTH PAINE -- "No, he didn't." ....

    BUGLIOSI -- "Now you, in fact, DID have some curtain rods in the garage, is that correct?"

    PAINE -- "In the garage...yes."

    BUGLIOSI -- "After the assassination, they were still there."

    PAINE -- "Yes, that's right."
  • BUGLIOSI -- "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. CYRIL H. WECHT -- "There is a third alternative, which would be a hybrid to some extent of the deliberate suppression, sir..."

    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!?"

    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."

    BUGLIOSI -- "No further questions."
  • "So we KNOW, not just beyond a reasonable doubt, we know beyond ALL doubt THAT OSWALD'S RIFLE WAS THE MURDER WEAPON. .... 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. ....

    "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?! ....

    "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."
    -- VINCENT BUGLIOSI (Closing Arguments)


The video and audio quality on these DVDs is just about as perfect as anybody could hope for. The picture looks excellent, probably as good as it did when the program first aired in 1986. (See the two DVD screen captures shown below, courtesy of DVD Talk.)

There are no audio commentaries or additional bonus features on either of the two discs in this DVD package. It would have been great if a commentary track by Vince Bugliosi could have been included, but it wasn't. But I was surprised to find that English subtitles have been included on these DVDs, which could be considered kind of a "mini bonus" of sorts.

Some more disc data:

2-Disc set.
Single-sided discs.
Video: Full-Frame (1.33:1). In color.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.
Total Run Time: 307 minutes (5 hrs., 7 min.).
Menus: Non-animated; looped music on the Main Menu.
Paper Enclosures: None.

[img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/b/b4/htf_imgcache_35767.jpeg[/img] [img]http://static.hometheaterforum.com/imgrepo/b/b8/htf_imgcache_35768.jpeg[/img]



1. Introduction (With Edwin Newman)
2. Opening Statement: The Prosecution
3. Opening Statement: The Defense
4. Prosecution, 1st Witness: Buell Frazier
5. Prosecution, 2nd Witness: Charles Brehm
6. Prosecution, 3rd Witness: Harold Norman
7. Prosecution, 4th Witness: Eugene Boone
8. Prosecution, 5th Witness: Marrion Baker
9. Prosecution, 6th Witness: Ted Callaway
10. Witness Recall: Buell Frazier
11. Prosecution, 7th Witness: Jack Brewer
12. Prosecution, 8th Witness: Cecil Kirk
13. Prosecution, 9th Witness: Dr. Charles Petty
14. Prosecution, 10th Witness: Monty Lutz
15. Prosecution, 11th Witness: Dr. Vincent Guinn
16. Prosecution, 12th Witness: Lyndal Shaneyfelt
17. Prosecution, 13th Witness: Nelson Delgado
18. Prosecution, 14th Witness: Ruth Paine

1. Defense, 1st Witness: Bill Newman
2. Defense, 2nd Witness: Tom Tilson
3. Defense, 3rd Witness: Dr. Cyril Wecht
4. Defense, 4th Witness: Paul O'Connor
5. Defense, 5th Witness: James Hosty
6. Defense, 6th Witness: Edwin Lopez
7. Defense, 7th Witness: Seth Kantor
8. Final Summation: The Prosecution
9. Final Summation: The Defense
10. Final Rebuttal: The Prosecution
11. The Verdict



Although it wasn't a "real" trial (quite obviously), "On Trial: Lee Harvey Oswald" did a nice job (at least partially) of filling a gap that had long been in need of filling -- and that is: to present the evidence against Lee Oswald in a courtroom setting, complete with the adversarial process of United States law on full display (i.e., the prosecution vs. the defense).

Lee Harvey Oswald, posthumously, had his day in court. Some conspiracy theorists maintain that the 1986 mock trial was nothing but a "sham", a "farce", a "fictional TV drama" with no real facts or truths being brought out in the courtroom.

I, however, would strongly disagree with such assertions regarding "On Trial". While not binding as an actual "Guilty" verdict in the case against Oswald, the fact remains that a lot of REAL evidence, presented by REAL witnesses, came to light in that London courtroom.

And whether Oswald was alive or not to defend himself against this evidence, it is evidence that still exists all the same (and LHO, had he lived, would have been a complete fool if he had chosen to testify at his trial, because if he had done so, his lengthy string of provable lies would have then gushed forth from the witness stand like water over Niagara Falls; and even without him testifying, those same lies would undoubtedly have still been revealed, via other witnesses).

And the evidence presented at this television docu-trial is evidence that convicted Lee Harvey Oswald of a Presidential assassination in the eyes of twelve Dallas citizens in 1986. And, in my opinion, that's a nice gap in the world of "JFK Assassination Lore" to have filled in.

David Von Pein
October 2008










Edited by David Von Pein - 7/4/2009 at 09:53 am GMT

#2 of 421 OFFLINE   Steve...O



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Posted October 29 2008 - 02:51 PM

No Edwin Newman = No Sale Seriously, another fine contribution to the excellent "A Personal Review" series, Mr V-P! This is interesting reading. Thank you. The above mentions Gerry Spence as participating. He was a TV mainstain during the original OJ trial but has largely vanished from public view since then. He was quite the character. A quick check on wiki indicates that he did practice law until this year, when he retired. I checked Mr. Newman's wiki page also and about fell out of my chair when I saw that he turns 90 in a few months. I remember him on TV like it was yesterday on all of those "news breaks" that used to be on TV.
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#3 of 421 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted October 29 2008 - 03:40 PM

Well, actually there is a good-sized chunk with Mr. Newman in the "Introduction" chapter on Disc 1 of this "On Trial" set.

In fact, there's a brief clip of Newman near Zapruder's pedestal (the place from where Abraham Zapruder filmed his famous home movie of the assassination) that wasn't even shown during the '86 Showtime broadcast. (It's not on my VHS tape of the '86 Trial at any rate.)

But, as I mentioned above, all of the other wraparound segments and concluding segments with Newman have been cut out for this DVD presentation.

BTW, for those who might be interested:

During the original 1986 Showtime telecast of "ON TRIAL", a live telephone poll was conducted just before the verdict in the trial was revealed, with the viewer poll showing that 85% of those who called in (in the Eastern and Central time zones only) thought that Oswald was NOT GUILTY of killing JFK. With only 15% believing that Oswald was guilty.

That poll stunned host Edwin Newman that night (which was 11/22/86). I never did see the final totals of that telephone poll (including the western states too), but I'm doubting that the 15% overtook the 85% after the program left the air.

(It must have been something in the water that night in the eastern states. Because people in my neck of the woods -- the midwest -- usually aren't so totally blind to the facts. Posted Image)

RE: Gerry Spence.....

He's got an Internet Blog.....

Gerry Spence’s Blog

Some of his posts there are quite interesting. He's a darn good writer (as well as a great lawyer).

Now, if I could just convince Vince Bugliosi to get a computer and an e-mail address. That'd be nice. Posted Image

#4 of 421 OFFLINE   Ed Moroughan

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Posted October 30 2008 - 10:13 AM

After reading "Reclaiming History" and the anecdotes about the trial sprinkled throughout this is a welcome treat. Good review David. Posted Image

#5 of 421 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted November 12 2008 - 12:28 PM


New Kennedy Films Unveiled......

Three New JFK Films - alt.assassination.jfk | Google Groups

#6 of 421 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted December 08 2008 - 05:17 PM


#7 of 421 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted March 11 2009 - 10:11 AM


#8 of 421 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted April 29 2009 - 06:44 PM

FYI -- An updated list of JFK-related books, DVDs, and videos:



A few sample videos:


YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.


YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.


YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.

YouTube - DavidVonPein's Channel

#9 of 421 OFFLINE   MattPeriolat


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Posted April 30 2009 - 01:50 AM

Excellent post, David. Always been fascinated by the Kennedy assassination ever since I saw an 80s Twilight Zone episode and it's only gotten worse as I studied history and formed my own opinions. Very pleased to see that at least four broadcasts survive from the date of the assassination. Wish we could see similar DVDs from network coverage of the in-state at the Capitol and the funeral the next day. Just makes me renew my argument that corporations like NBC, ABC, and CBS could make a killing if they release more DVDs of their coverage of historic events from the landing on the moon to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
So much TV... So little money! Please visit my blog at: http://tvhistoryondvd.blogspot.com/

#10 of 421 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted April 30 2009 - 02:00 AM


#11 of 421 OFFLINE   Ockeghem



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Posted April 30 2009 - 02:11 AM


I'm coming a bit late to this party, but thanks a bunch for your review of the DVD set above. I may purchase this, as I've been studying this assassination for about thirty years myself (as a hobby). I have several books on the subject, and many VHS tapes and DVDs on/about the Zapruder film.

I particularly liked the link you provided for the J. D. Tippit murder -- that aspect of what exactly occurred on Nov. 22, 1963 has intrigued me for many years.

Thanks for a job well done! Posted Image

#12 of 421 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted April 30 2009 - 02:23 AM

Thank you, Scott.

Yes, the Tippit murder is, indeed, an interesting sub-element of the JFK assassination. But, incredibly, I deal with conspiracists daily who actually believe that there's no firm evidence whatsoever to prove Lee Oswald's guilt in that murder either!

I can only scratch my head and scream when I hear such nuttiness from the "Anybody But Oswald" conspiracy theorists.

The fact that Oswald had the Tippit murder weapon on him when he was arrested just 35 minutes after the officer was killed doesn't seem to faze the "ABO" conspiracy advocates either.

Even famous conspiracist Jim Garrison was constantly mangling the real evidence of Oswald's guilt in the Tippit murder, with Garrison actually denying that Oswald ever even dumped the spent bullet cartridges out of his gun right after the crime. Garrison told Playboy Magazine in 1967 that the four shells littering the area of the murder scene were planted there by unknown/unseen forces in order to frame this schnook named Lee Harvey.

And Garrison had the 'nads to say that in a national magazine three years after four different witnesses at the scene of the murder testified that the killer (Oswald) did, indeed, shake bullet shells out of his gun as he fled the scene.

Sorry, I didn't mean to go off on a Garrison rant, but when I get started on that guy, I can't stop pointing out his unending series of absurdities connected with the JFK case. Posted Image

More JFK stuff (galore) on my Twitter page:

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#13 of 421 OFFLINE   Ockeghem



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Posted April 30 2009 - 02:29 AM


So when does your book on the Assassination of JFK come out? Posted Image

#14 of 421 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted April 30 2009 - 02:39 AM

I'm ready. Have you got a publisher for me? Posted Image

#15 of 421 OFFLINE   Ockeghem



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Posted April 30 2009 - 02:45 AM

Ha! No, I don't. I'm working on two books myself. I have a contract for one, and I have a literary agent working on promoting the other. Best wishes with your work, though. Do you have an agent?

#16 of 421 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted April 30 2009 - 03:04 AM

No, I don't have a literary agent.

Anyway, I kind of doubt that the book-publishing world is ready for another mammoth (or even semi-mammoth) JFK book from a lone-assassin perspective so soon after Vince Bugliosi had his excellent tome released (although it has been two years since his book came out).

And I seriously doubt that very many people would be rushing to the book store to purchase anything written by David Von Pein. (David who?) Posted Image

But, stranger things have happened, I guess. After all, the guy who said the quoted words below (without even blushing, if you can imagine that) actually had multiple books published about his crazy views on the JFK assassination:

"Lee Oswald was totally, unequivocally, completely innocent of the assassination .... and the fact that history, or in the re-writing of history, disinformation has made a villain out of this young man who wanted nothing more than to be a fine Marine .... is in some ways the greatest injustice of all." -- Jim Garrison; Spoken during an on-camera interview for the A&E Cable-TV mini-series "The Men Who Killed Kennedy" (Part 4; "The Patsy").

#17 of 421 OFFLINE   Ockeghem



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Posted April 30 2009 - 03:06 AM


Well, you could always write the premiere biography of one William Cooper (and his lectures in Sedona, Arizona). Posted Image

Just kidding, BTW. Posted Image

#18 of 421 OFFLINE   David Von Pein

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Posted June 06 2009 - 07:12 PM



#19 of 421 OFFLINE   Neil Brock

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Posted June 07 2009 - 02:04 PM

Or maybe the people in the midwest are more likely to believe whatever claptrap the government is feeding them.

Regarding Oswald's guilt, in either murder, then how come he didn't test positive on the parafin test? The Warren Report had holes big enough to drive a truck through. Another question. Since when is someone's guilt decided and then the investigation only undertaken to prove it rather than investigating the facts and seeing where they lead? Why would the crime scene, i.e., the limo, be cleaned and wiped clear of all evidence if there was nothing being hidden? Whether or not you believe the windshield was replaced or not, they still destroyed any possible evidence by cleaning the car. Why? Why couldn't any FBI marksman recreate the shots even after adjusting the misaligned scope? Why were there more grams in Connally's wrist than in the magic bullet? Why did Gov. Connally, when inteviewed in his hospital bed, say that he was struck by a separate bullet?

YouTube - John Connally's first interview after 11/22/63

#20 of 421 OFFLINE   Jack P

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Posted June 07 2009 - 04:15 PM

#1-THe parrafin test matter is irrelevant. #2-A NUMBER of marksmen successfully duplicated what Oswald did and what the evidence shows he did, based on the ballistic and medical evidence. Plus, there's the inconvenient matter of Oswald having no alibi, being seen by Howard Brennan, his lying about a number of other key details, and the fact that 11 witnesses place him as the killer of Officer Tippit or just fleeing the scene etc. It isn't the Warren Commission that's full of holes on the matter of who did it, it's the cottage industry of conspiracy buffdom. As for what Connally said, his impressions are not the be-all evidence, the physical and medical evidence is. Doctors noted that if Connally had been struck by a separate bullet and not a bullet slowed up by passing through Kennedy first, his wounds would have been fatal, plus the scar on Connally's back was a two inch elongated scar that came as the result of a bullet tumbling in mid-air, which could only have happened if that bullet had struck something else first, *and* there's the matter of how critics can't account for what happened to the bullet that hit JFK from behind if it didn't go on to wound Connally.

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