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June 18, 2012
Clay Laverne Shaw
Clay Shaw's acquittal on conspiracy charges to assassinate President John F. Kennedy owes a great deal to his willingness to perjure himself at that 1969 trial.
by Don Fulsom
Clay Shaw (a.k.a. Clay Bertrand) holds the distinction of being the only individual ever tried as part of an alleged conspiracy to murder President John F. Kennedy. In 1969, after a 39-day trial, a New Orleans jury took less than an hour to find the wealthy local businessman not guilty.
Then 55, the tall, white-haired, distinguished looking Shaw was indicted and tried by a rather flamboyant ex-FBI agent—the parish’s controversial district attorney, Jim Garrison. The D.A. and his staff produced enough evidence to convince the jury there was a conspiracy—but the jurors said Shaw did not participate in it. Could the jury have been mistaken on Shaw? Looking at the case through history’s rear-view mirror, yes indeed.