Inside the Clay Shaw Trial
The JFK assassination has spawned all kinds of conspiracy theories. Perhaps the highest profile case began in New Orleans.
The case involved New Orleans civic leader and businessman Clay Shaw. To this day, it is the only Kennedy conspiracy case that landed a man in court, accused in the president’s death.
“It was trial by ambush,” attorney Richard Dymond said from his office in Long Beach, Mississippi.
Dymond worked for his father, Irvin, who was Shaw’s lead defense attorney.
Then-district attorney Jim Garrison led the investigation which included a tangled web of conspirators which also included New Orleans born Lee Harvey Oswald. By the time the case went to trial in 1969, many of the people Garrison alleged to have been involved were dead.
As lead defense attorney, Irvin Dymond carved-up the prosecution’s remaining key witnesses during his cross examination.
“And the job that my father did as far as unraveling the facts just amazes me,” Richard Dymond said. “And in this case, they (prosecutors) knew it was false.”
“It was 100% nuts,” said ABC News’ Cokie Roberts of the trial. Roberts is a native New Orleanian and also has a close connection to the Shaw case.
Her father, Hale Boggs, was a member of the Warren Commission, the group assigned by President Lyndon B. Johnson t0 investigate Kennedy’s assassination. The group’s report was nearly 1,000 pages and concluded that Oswald acted alone.
But 50 years after the assassination, the Shaw conspiracy theory continues to cloud the facts of the president’s death.
In 1991, director Oliver Stone release his film JFK which may forever give the Shaw case a polished and persuasive push.
“That movie is fiction and should be treated as such,” Roberts said.
Shaw’s trial lasted about six weeks. And even though the conspiracy theory continues, 50 years after Kennedy’s death, just remember this — It took the jury just 50 minutes to find Shaw not guilty.
“Clay Shaw hugged my father. I went too and did the same thing. It was quite a moment, a very emotional moment,” Dymond said.
The trial was also the first time the photos of Kennedy’s autopsy were shown in public as well as the Zapruder film.
“Needless to say, you could hear a pin drop,” Dymond says of the moments when jurors were faced to see film of the deadly shot to Kennedy’s head as well as close-up photos of the damage post-mortem.
Despite the victory in court, by all accounts, the trial destroyed Shaw emotionally. He died a few years later.
The courtroom where the trial occurred has a plaque outside its doors, with Irvin Dymond’s image, naming it in his honor.
Richard Dymond went on to graduate from law school and become a defense attorney like his father.