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Question about Malcolm Couch


Guest Mark Valenti
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Guest Mark Valenti

Seemed to be a respected professional - and yet he claims to witness the weapon that killed JFK in a sixth floor window and didn't shoot any film of the TSBD.

Mr. BELIN - Is there any particular reason, Mr. Couch, why you didn't take your first pictures of the School Book Depository Building itself when you say you saw a rifle being withdrawn?

Mr. COUCH - Well, uh - as best I can recall, the excitement on the ground of the people running and policemen "revving" up their motorcycles - and I have a real nice shot of a policeman running toward me with his pistol drawn - the activity on the ground kept my attention. The reason I did not stay and take pictures of the Depository Building - which I had originally intended to do when I got out of the motorcade - was that - uh - another cameraman from our station, A.J. L'Hoste - [spelling] L-'-H-o-s-t-e - he came running up and - uh - when he ran up, why I said, "you stay here and get some shots of the building and go inside - and I'm going to go back - I'm going to follow the President."

This stumbling reply can be summed up something like this:

I saw the supposed assassin of the President of the United States but as a professional photographer, I didn't take any photos of the sniper's perch because I was distracted by people and motorcycle noise. I told another guy to take photos of the building.

So did the "other guy" take any photos of the TSBD?

Mr. BELIN - Now this A. J. -?

Mr. COUCH - L'Hote. That's "L" apostrophe.

Mr. BELIN - Yes; I have that. I have made a note of the spelling, along with the phonetic sound.

Do you know if he got any pictures of the south side of the School Book Depository?

Mr. COUCH - No; I don't recall what he got - as I recall - now, I may be wrong, this is a guess - he did not take any pictures.

Mr. BELIN - He did not take any?

Mr. COUCH - No.

Hmmm...

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Seemed to be a respected professional - and yet he claims to witness the weapon that killed JFK in a sixth floor window and didn't shoot any film of the TSBD.

Mr. BELIN - Is there any particular reason, Mr. Couch, why you didn't take your first pictures of the School Book Depository Building itself when you say you saw a rifle being withdrawn?

Mr. COUCH - Well, uh - as best I can recall, the excitement on the ground of the people running and policemen "revving" up their motorcycles - and I have a real nice shot of a policeman running toward me with his pistol drawn - the activity on the ground kept my attention. The reason I did not stay and take pictures of the Depository Building - which I had originally intended to do when I got out of the motorcade - was that - uh - another cameraman from our station, A.J. L'Hoste - [spelling] L-'-H-o-s-t-e - he came running up and - uh - when he ran up, why I said, "you stay here and get some shots of the building and go inside - and I'm going to go back - I'm going to follow the President."

This stumbling reply can be summed up something like this:

I saw the supposed assassin of the President of the United States but as a professional photographer, I didn't take any photos of the sniper's perch because I was distracted by people and motorcycle noise. I told another guy to take photos of the building.

So did the "other guy" take any photos of the TSBD?

Mr. BELIN - Now this A. J. -?

Mr. COUCH - L'Hote. That's "L" apostrophe.

Mr. BELIN - Yes; I have that. I have made a note of the spelling, along with the phonetic sound.

Do you know if he got any pictures of the south side of the School Book Depository?

Mr. COUCH - No; I don't recall what he got - as I recall - now, I may be wrong, this is a guess - he did not take any pictures.

Mr. BELIN - He did not take any?

Mr. COUCH - No.

Hmmm...

Yup - a lot of the report reads this way Mark. As I remarked once, it's a shame we don't have video to make note of any 'cues,' possible handwritten notes, hand gestures, and to catch the body language. And of course, it would have been great to have recorded some of those off record discussions.

Here's the way I read it - coach and rehearse, then go for the 'record.' Do damage control where possible.

Craig spills it.

From that day forward Bill Decker began to watch my every move. People in the office who, before this, very seldom spoke to me, began to hang around watching my every move and listening to everything I said. Among these were Rosemary Allen, E. R. (Buddy) Walthers, Allen Sweatt and Bob Morgan--Decker's four top stoolies.

Combine the foregoing with the run-in I had with Dave Belin, junior counsel for the Warren Commission, who questioned me in April of 1964, and who changed my testimony fourteen times when he sent it to Washington, and you will have some idea of the pressures brought to bear.

David Belin told me who he was as I entered the interrogation room (April 1964). He had me sit at the head of a long table. To my left was a female with a pencil and pen. Belin sat to my right. Between the girl and Belin was a tape recorder, which was turned off. Belin instructed the girl not to take notes until he (Belin) said to do so. He then told me that the investigation was being conducted to determine the truth as the evidence indicates. Well, I could take that several ways but I said nothing. Then Belin said, "For instance, I will ask you where you were at a certain time. This will establish your physical location." It was at this point that I began to feel that I was being led into something but still I said nothing. Then Belin said, "I will ask you about what you thought you heard or saw in regard." Well, this was too much. I interrupted him and said, "Counselor, just ask me the questions and if I can answer them, I will." This seemed to irritate Belin and he told the girl to start taking notes with the next question.

At this point Belin turned the recorder on. The first questions were typical. Where were you born? Where did you go to school? When Belin would get to certain questions he would turn off the recorder and stop the girl from writing. Then he would ask me, for example, "Did you see anything unusual when you were behind the picket fence?" I said, "Yes" and he said, "Fine, just a minute." He would then tell the girl to start writing with the next question and would again start the recorder. What was the next question? "Mr. Craig, did you go into the Texas School Book Depository?" It was clear to me that he wanted only to record part of the interrogation, as this happened many times.

I finally managed to get in at least most of what I had seen and heard by ignoring his advanced questions and giving a step-by-step picture, which further seemed to irritate him.

At the end of our session Belin dismissed me but when I started to leave the room, he called me back. At this time I identified the clothing wore by the suspect (the 26 volumes refer to a box of clothing--not boxes. There were two boxes.)

After I identified the clothing Belin went over the complete testimony again. He then asked, "Do you want to follow or waive your signature or sign now?" Since there was nothing but a tape recording and a stenographer's note book, there was obviously nothing to sign. All other testimony which I have read (a considerable amount) included an explanation that the person could waive his signature then or his statement would be typed and he would be notified when it was ready for signature. Belin did not say this to me.

He said an odd thing when I left. It is the only time that he said it, and I have never read anything similar in any testimony. "Be SURE, when you get back to the office, to thank Sheriff Decker for his cooperation." I know of no one else he questioned who he asked to thank a supervisor, chief, etc.

- lee

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Mark, I hope I don't detract from the intent of your topic.

Couch took some unique footage which unfortunately appears in poor condition. He took a sweeping view of the southern side of the Plaza including the Post Office. The cop with the gun almost seems to discourage him from keeping his camera pointed in that directon.

He also took a short sequence of a cop keeping people away from the corner of the fence.

Interestingly it shows a guy 'sneaking past' to point at or examine a part of the fence.

This part of the fence is interesting for other reasons.

It looks like on this photo that there might have been a part of a picket missing.

Are any photos of the day available showing the fence from the other side?

Edited by John Dolva
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Mark, I hope I don't detract from the intent of your topic.

Couch took some unique footage which unfortunately appears in poor condition. He took a sweeping view of the southern side of the Plaza including the Post Office. The cop with the gun almost seems to discourage him from keeping his camera pointed in that directon.

He also took a short sequence of a cop keeping people away from the corner of the fence.

Interestingly it shows a guy 'sneaking past' to point at or examine a part of the fence.

This part of the fence is interesting for other reasons.

It looks like on this photo that there might have been a part of a picket missing.

Are any photos of the day available showing the fence from the other side?

Couch was in the car with Dillard and Jackson. Jackson saw the shooter in the window but was out of film. He yelled to the others. Dillard looked up and got the classic photo of Williams and Norman. Couch, who was operating a movie camera, said he saw the rifle but that he didn't take pictures. Since the rifle was pulled back before Dillard, operating a normal camera, could get ready to shoot, it seems likely that the rifle was long gone before Couch could get his movie camera ready to begin filming. Or am I wrong to assume it would take more than a few seconds to get a 1963 movie camera up and running and in position to shoot?

Intriguingly, Dillard and Couch are two of but a handful of witnesses to say the shots sounded evenly spaced (suggestive of a single shooter). Jackson, on the other hand, was adamant from the beginning that the last two shots rang out closely together.

Edited by Pat Speer
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  • 8 years later...

If anyone wants to make Mal Couch out to be a xxxx about seeing the rifle in the sixth-floor window, they're going to have to somehow manage to get around Couch's FIRST-DAY live radio interviews on 11/22/63, wherein he tells the audience that he saw the rifle in the TSBD window. Here is one of those interviews (and this was only about two hours after the assassination)....



DVP-Potpourri.blogspot.com/2011/05/mal-couch.html Edited by David Von Pein
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In the clip DVP posts, Couch appears to be collected and lucid. He describes events presumably in the order they occurred. The limo speeds away. A woman faints and falls to the ground. Couch looks at the TSBD and sees a rifle being withdrawn from a window on the 5th or 6th floor. He also sees TSBD employees leaning out and looking upward.

I believe one or more shots were fired from the TSBD. I find it hard to believe a shot was fired from the sniper's nest. The S.N. was a terrible position from which to fire shots at JFK. The low window opening, the Live Oak, the box allegedly used for support -- a poor combination for pulling off an assassination by rifle.

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I find it hard to believe a shot was fired from the sniper's nest. The S.N. was a terrible position from which to fire shots at JFK.

Yeah, Jon. This is just a TERRIBLE spot for a sniper to be located, isn't it?.... Eyeroll-Icon-Blogspot.gif

WH_Vol17_0456a.jpg

Edited by David Von Pein
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I don't give a hoot what Jackson said. Under oath, Bonnie Ray Williams denied that they were hanging out the window, looking up at the 6th floor.

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I don't give a hoot what Jackson said.

Of course you don't. And you probably don't give a hoot about the fact that Bob Jackson, just like Couch and Brennan and Euins, saw the rifle in the SN window too.

Edited by David Von Pein
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DVP regardless of what you say, you still cannot pinpoint Oswald on the 6th floor nor can you pinpoint any shots actually being fired and witnessed.

Besides a barrel being withdrawn you don't have much else.

Yeah, Bart, I see what you mean. Just because 4 witnesses (not to mention Mrs. Cabell and James Worrell) saw a gun in the SN window, why would THAT little fact mean any shots were actually fired from the ONLY place in Dealey Plaza where any witnesses saw a rifle? (That rifle was probably just a prop, right? Consult David Lifton about that one.)

jfk-archives.blogspot.com/2013/07/david-von-pein-vs-david-lifton.html

And just because there were three SPENT rifle shells found right under that same window, should that fact mean I should think ANY shots were fired from that window? (After all, the shells could have been planted there by the patsy-framers, correct? Check Oliver Stone's movie for the plotters in their "Acme" uniforms for verification on this one. And Oliver wouldn't say anything that wasn't accurate, would he?)

And just because Harold Norman heard shots from over his head and heard shells falling to the floor during the shooting, should that give us a hint as to the source of the gunman either? (Norman was probably just lying, right?)

But just how much evidence and how many witnesses am I expected to totally ignore anyway?* Or is there any limit if you're a CTer married to the unrealistic notion that Lee Oswald never fired a shot?

* And I'll pre-empt the defense here by saying that I have not "totally ignored" the many "BOH" Parkland & Bethesda witnesses. I've dealt with those witnesses and tried to explain what they saw in a reasonable manner, just as Vince Bugliosi did in his book and just as the HSCA did as well. There's better evidence that proves the "BOH" witnesses were incorrect. But what "better evidence" does any CTer have when it comes to trying to prove the preposterous theory that NO SHOTS at all were fired from the southeast corner of the 6th floor of the Depository?

I'll answer that myself --- There is no such evidence. And there never has been.

Edited by David Von Pein
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DVP,

The two well-known photos you present are misleading. True, they provide a clear line of sight to the kill zone. But how would Oswald, in the cramped sniper's nest, have obtained this view? Especially given what is not shown, namely the box on which he supposedly rested his rifle. What would have been Oswald's exact body alignment?

The photos represent a big problem with the official version. Like other pieces of so-called evidence, they're deceptive; and one cannot but believe they're meant to deceive.

I imagine, David, you trust U.S. Government officials to tell the truth in important matters. I lost that innocence when Jack Ruby shot Marina's husband. The only times I've found my skepticism unwarranted is when I've witnessed incompetence on the part of Government officials. The photos, however, don't represent incompetence; they represent cunning.

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The two well-known photos you present are misleading. True, they provide a clear line of sight to the kill zone. But how would Oswald, in the cramped sniper's nest, have obtained this view? Especially given what is not shown, namely the box on which he supposedly rested his rifle. What would have been Oswald's exact body alignment?

The photos represent a big problem with the official version. Like other pieces of so-called evidence, they're deceptive; and one cannot but believe they're meant to deceive.

Well, Jon, here's another picture taken from that same sixth-floor Sniper's Nest, and this time there IS a box on the window ledge. And the line of sight to the automobile on Elm Street below is not obscured at all:

Still+Image+From+1963+Secret+Service+Fil

And here are two still frames from the 1963 Secret Service re-enactment film, in which a Secret Service agent demonstrates the probable position and posture of the sixth-floor assassin as he fired shots at the President's car:

Secret-Service-Reenactment-1.png

Secret-Service-Reenactment-2.png

And here's another still image from that same SS re-enactment film, with this picture illustrating the high likelihood that the sixth-floor sniper (Oswald, of course) must have changed his firing stance between shot #1 and shot #2, because the boxes on the ledge do, indeed, appear to be obstructing a clear shot down to the street around the time of Zapruder frame 160 (which is when I think Oswald squeezed off his first shot):

Secret-Service-Reenactment-3.png

But I don't see why anyone would claim that the above observation about Oswald having to alter his shooting posture between the shots positively means that Oswald could not have accomplished the assassination on his own from that sixth-floor sniper's perch.

Even if Oswald had to stand up (instead of sitting or squatting) to fire his first shot at Kennedy's car around Z160, so what? We still have solid indications that THREE shots from Oswald's Mannlicher-Carcano rifle WERE fired from that very same sixth-floor location in the southeast corner. The THREE spent bullet shells on the floor [CE510] pretty much seal the deal on that point. Plus the huge percentage of witnesses who heard exactly THREE SHOTS fired during the assassination.

And, as the picture directly above clearly shows, Oswald had a clear and unobstructed view of JFK's car on the street below for the last two shots as the rifle was placed over the top of the boxes situated on the window ledge.

Granted, if Oswald had been sitting on the box in the corner as the Secret Service agent was doing during his reconstruction of the shooting, it appears that due to the configuration of the boxes in the window, JFK would have come into Oswald's sights just barely in time for him to squeeze off the "SBT" shot at Z224 (which is when I think that shot occurred).

But we can never know what Oswald's EXACT posture and body position was when he fired each of his three shots at the President back in '63. Perhaps he was sitting on the box in the corner for some of the shots (as the SS agent demonstrated), but perhaps he wasn't. That is one of the "unknowables" in this case.

But one thing we DO know for a fact is that these three spent cartridge cases from the rifle proven to be owned by Lee Harvey Oswald were found underneath the southeast corner window on the sixth floor of the Book Depository on November 22, 1963:

CE510--Three-Bullet-Shells-On-The-Floor.

Edited by David Von Pein
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DVP,

The three cartridges never would have been admitted into evidence in a criminal prosecution of Oswald. The prosecutor would stumble at several points. One would be chain of custody, for reasons I'm sure you know well. Another would be failure to establish the cartridges were fired from the M-C rifle in question on 11-22-63. As of Saturday the 23rd, the rifle was so badly rusted, Robert Frazier didn't bother to swab the rifle barrel to determine whether the rifle had been fired recently. Markings on the cartridges also raise questions as to when they were fired through the rifle.

You routinely win arguments like this, David, but only because you don't have to deal with the Rules of Evidence.

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