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Evidence Tampering with the Rifle Shells

Gil Jesus

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In his testimony before the Warren Commission, Dallas Deputy Sheriff Luke Mooney told the Commission that it was he who discovered the three spent shells in the "sniper's nest" on the sixth floor of the TSBD:

Mr. MOONEY. IF I remember correctly, I went in there from this angle right here right through here. There could be a space. There is a space there I squeezed in between here, and that is when I got into the opening, because the minute I squeezed through there there lay the shells. ( 3 H 285 )

As the one who discovered the shells, Mooney should have marked them at the scene. In his testimony, he said that Capt. Fritz picked them up and examined them:

"Captain Fritz picked up the cartridges, began to examine them....." ( 3 H 289 )

Captain Fritz should have also marked them at the scene.

Lt. Day testified that he took the three shells and put them in an envelope, then gave the envelope to Det. Richard Sims:

Mr. BELIN. All right. You have mentioned these three hulls. Did you put any initials on those at all, any means of identification?

Mr. DAY. At that time they were placed in an envelope and the envelope marked. The three hulls were not marked at that time. Mr. Sims took possession of them. ( 4 H 253 )

Both Day and Sims should have marked the shells at the scene.

The shells should have been marked by 4 officers before they had even left the building, establishing a chain of custody.

Day testified that when the envelope was returned to him at about 10:00 pm on the night of the assassination, there were only two shells in it and at that time he marked the two shells:

"About 10 o'clock in the evening this envelope came back to me with two hulls in it."

Mr. BELIN. Now, at what time did you put any initials, if you did put any such initials, on the hull itself?

Mr. DAY. At about 10 o'clock when I noticed it back in the identification bureau in this envelope.

( 4 H 254 )

Day was forced to admit that the envelope had not been sealed:

Mr. BELIN. Was the envelope sealed?

Mr. DAY. No, sir.

Mr. BELIN. Had it been sealed when you gave it to Mr. Sims?

Mr. DAY. No, sir; no. ( ibid. )

Sims couldn't remember if he handed the envelope to Capt. Fritz or just put it on his desk:

Mr. BELIN. Where were these hulls when you last saw them, or saw the envelope in which they were?

Mr. SIMS. In Captain Fritz' office, I believe.

Mr. BELIN. Were they just laying on his desk, or in his physical possession?

Mr. SIMS. In this envelope.

Mr. BELIN. Was the envelope on his desk?

Mr. SIMS. I don't remember if I actually gave them to him or put them there on the desk in front of him.

Mr. BELIN. But he was there when you left there?

Mr. SIMS. Yes.

Mr. BELIN. And that is the last time you saw them?

Mr. SIMS. Yes. ( 7 H 186 )

When asked whether or not he marked the shells, Sims couldn't remember:

Mr. BELIN. Do you remember whether or not you ever initialed the hulls?

Mr. SIMS. I don't know if I initialed the hulls or not. ( ibid. )

Sims was never shown the shells and asked to find his mark.

Likewise, Mooney was never shown the shells and asked to identify them during his testimony. He was instead, shown a picture of shells lying on the floor ( CE 510 ) and identified them as the shells he found:

Mr. BALL. We will get to that in a moment. Now, I show you 510.

(The document referred to was marked Commission Exhibit No. 510 for identification.)

Mr. BALL. Is that the empty shells you found?

Mr. MOONEY. Yes, sir.( 3 H 286 )

There's no way that Mooney could positively identify the shells in a photograph as the EXACT shells he found. In fact, there's no way Mooney could positively identify the shells he found without physically examining them for his mark.

Another anormaly is exactly when the shells were dusted for fingerprints. Det. Sims testified that Lt. Day dusted the shells at the scene:

Mr. SIMS. I was over there, I believe, when they finished up with the pictures, and I picked the three hulls up and laid them on what I believed to be a box of books there near the window, and Lieutenant Day dusted them for fingerprints. ( 7 H 183 )

But the affidait of C.N. Dhority ( 7 H 380 ) says the shells were dusted at the police station on the night of the 22nd:

"The night of November 22, 1963 Captain J. W. Fritz gave me three 6.5 rifle hulls and told me to give them to Lt. J. C. Day in the Crime Lab. Captain J. W. Fritz told me to have Lt. Day to dust them for prints and return one of the 6.5 hulls to him. I took these three 6.5 rifle hulls to Lt. Day and gave them to him in an envelope which had been previously marked by Det. R. M. Sims. Lt. Day dusted the shells for prints and gave me one back. I returned this 6.5 shell back to Captain J. W. Fritz."

Edited by Gil Jesus
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Has the scratches on the floor on the overhead photos of the boxes been explained?

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ANd I agree that the lack of originating marks is pretty odd. As is the location of the dusting for prints.

Jim, I believe what we have here is evidence that two different sets of rifle shells were dusted for prints. The first set was dusted after 1pm at the TSBD and the second set at 10pm at Dallas Police Headquarters as the evidence was being collected to be turned over to Vincent Drain.

BTW, Day testified that the shell that homicide retained was CE 543, the dented shell:

Mr. BELIN. Now, I am going to ask you to state if you know what Commission Exhibit 543 is?

Mr. DAY. That is a hull that does not have my marking on it.

Mr. BELIN. Do you know whether or not this was one of the hulls that was found at the School Book Depository Building?

Mr. DAY. I think it is.

Mr. BELIN. What makes you think it is?

Mr. DAY. It has the initials "G. D." on it, which is George Doughty, the captain that I worked under.

Mr. BELIN. Was he there at the scene?

Mr. DAY. No, sir; this hull came up, this hull that is not marked came up, later. I didn't send that.

Mr. BELIN. This was----

Mr. DAY. That was retained. That is the hull that was retained by homicide division when the other two were originally sent in with the gun.

Mr. BELIN. You are referring now to Commission Exhibit 543 as being the one that was retained in your possession for a while?

Mr. DAY. It is the one that I did not see again.

Mr. BELIN. It appears to be flattened out here. Do you know or have you any independent recollection as to whether or not it was flattened out at the small end when you saw it?

Mr. DAY. No, sir; I don't.

( 4 H 255 )

How does Doughty become the only mark on a shell found at a scene where he wasn't even present ?

We may never know. Although this crucial part of the evidence contained his initials, Doughty was never called to testify before the Commission.

Edited by Gil Jesus
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"Another correction in my testimony before the commission"


Priceless. Day appeared before the Commission and testified on this subject on April 22, 1964. The next day, he wrote the memo saying that Capt. Doughty didn't remember marking the shells. On June 8th, the shells arrive back in Dallas to be examined by the very men who may or may not have marked them and lo and behold THEIR MARKS ARE THERE !!!

Finally, Day revises his story again, this time reporting that he can't remember if he marked the shells at the scene or at 10pm that night, but two detectives who were present with him at the scene say that he marked them there.

Funny they never said it in testimony.

They flew the shells back to Dallas to have their marks "identified" ?

Of course, they would never have marked them on June 8th, would they ?

Just the fact that Mooney's mark is not on the shells not only denies an established chain of custody, it disqualifies them as evidence.

In addition, the absence of marks from Fritz, Sims and Studebaker and Day's confusion of when and where he marked them, indicates that the shells were not marked at the scene.

That the shells were placed in an envelope unsealed that remained unsealed until it was turned over to the FBI is especially disturbing and leaves open the possibility that the shells were substituted.

With all of these factors, it's difficult to imagine that these shells would have been admitted in court as evidence.

Edited by Gil Jesus
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