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Sniper's Perch Window is in the news

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Death scrambles trial over 'snipers perch.'<H5 class=vitstorydate>07:49 PM CDT on Wednesday, March 25, 2009</H5>By ROY APPLETON / The Dallas Morning News


The dispute over the "sniper's perch" from the Texas School Book Depository has taken another uncertain turn.

For years, Caruth Byrd and Aubrey Mayhew claimed to possess the window through which Lee Harvey Oswald is accused of firing on President John F. Kennedy. Byrd sued Mayhew two years ago to establish ownership of the relic.

Mayhew, 81, died Sunday in his hometown of Nashville, Tenn. Now the conflict and the truth are more clouded than ever.

A jury trial in the case is scheduled to begin April 15 in a Dallas state district court. But attorneys for both sides said Wednesday that they don't know if, when or how the lawsuit will proceed.

"There's not much we can do but get ready for trial," said Paul Fourt, who was hired last month to represent Mayhew, who had been defending himself in the 2-year-old lawsuit.

"It's up in the air right now," said Joel Elliott, Byrd's attorney. "My client is wore out over the whole thing."

Byrd, 67, of Van, Texas, sued Mayhew after both had tried to sell their windows on eBay, asserting that Mayhew's offering had diminished the value of his own.

Byrd says he inherited the sixth-floor shooter's window in 1986 from his father, Col. D. Harold Byrd, former owner of the depository building in downtown Dallas.

Mayhew bought the building from Harold Byrd in 1970, intending to establish a museum honoring the slain president. He said he had the window removed in 1971.

Byrd has asked state District Judge Gena Slaughter to declare him owner of the window and to order Mayhew to return any window he removed from the depository building.

Last April, a visiting judge ruled that Mayhew "is not the owner of the window ... from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot and killed President Kennedy." But the order doesn't say Byrd owns it.

Byrd has said he wants to sell the window to raise money for a wildlife refuge he supports in Van Zandt County.

After Byrd twice listed his window for an online eBay auction, Mayhew offered his as well. Neither drew a legitimate bid.

Mayhew didn't intend to sell his window, his son, Parris Mayhew has said. He wanted to confound bidders and discourage any sale by publicizing conflicting ownership claims.

Mayhew died after a long illness, leaving behind four children but no will.

-- A tip of the hat to Tom Blackwell for keeping us posted on this story. - BK

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