Andrew Mason on the SBT
Andrew Mason is a lawyer at Dufour and Company in East Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada (firstname.lastname@example.org). The remarks below are from an E-mail message to me on 23 August 2001. They offer his reasons for not believing in the single-bullet theory. He expressed his important objections so clearly that I wanted to post them for all to see. Here they are, with his permission. At some point in the future I will offer comments on them.
Let me preface my remarks by saying that I am only interested in figuring
out what really did happen. I can be persuaded only by evidence, not by
The main problem I have with the single bullet theory is that it requires rejection of some very good evidence—that of the Connallys and the Governor's doctors. There are other good reasons to believe that the SBT is unreliable as well, which I shall outline. As a piece in the jigsaw puzzle it doesn't seem to fit without forcing all the other pieces.
The single bullet theory was created by the experts, not the witnesses. No witness came forward an suggested that the Governor was hit by the first bullet. Nellie Connally to this day is adamant that the Governor's chest wound was not caused by the same bullet that hit JFK in the neck. She is adamant that she saw JFK was hit on the first shot and saw her husband hit by the second.
The Governor said he felt the shot that went through his chest. He described it as being similar to someone hitting him hard on the back with a doubled up fist from 12 inches away. His doctor (Shaw) says that he must have felt the hit. Shaw acknowledged that sometimes a person can get hit and not feel it right away, but not if the shot hits significant bone material such as was the case here:
Mr. McCLOY—Let me ask you this, Doctor, in your experience with gunshot wounds, is it possible for a man to be hit sometime before he realizes it?
Dr. SHAW—Yes. There can be a delay in the sensory reaction.
Mr. McCLOY—Yes; so that a man can think as of a given instant he was not hit, and when actually he could have been hit.
Dr. SHAW—There can be an extending. sensation and then just a gradual building up of a feeling of severe injury.
Mr. McCLOY—But there could be a delay in any appreciable reaction between the time of the impact of the bullet and the occurrence?
Dr. SHAW—Yes; but in the case of a wound which strikes a bony substance such as a rib, usually the reaction is quite prompt.
Mr. McCLOY—Now, you have indicated, I think, that this bullet traveled along, hit and traveled along the path of the rib, is that right?
Mr. McCLOY—Is it possible that it could have not, the actual bullet could not have hit the rib at all but it might have been the expanding flesh that would cause the wound or the proper contusion, I guess you would call it on the rib itself?
Dr. SHAW—I think we would have to postulate that the bullet hit the rib itself by the neat way in which it stripped the rib out without doing much damage to the muscles that lay on either side of it.
The biggest mistake of the SBT experts may have been their belief that it
was necessary if, as all the other evidence indicates, there were only three
shots and all were fired with Oswald's rifle from the 6th floor window. This
belief was based on the opinion that the Governor had been hit by Z238. There
simply was not enough time to fire two shots by Z238, let alone the fact that
everyone said the second and third shots were closer together than the first and
second. Since we can be almost certain that the first shot did not occur before
Z210 and the last was at Z313, the second shot would have to have been much
later than Z238.
In my assessment of the evidence, the view that the Governor had been hit by Z238 is unreliable. Personally, I don't see the Governor's position or movement from Z225 to Z270 or so to be consistent having been hit. He suddenly turns to his right and opens his mouth about Z235 or so but this is quite consistent with Nellie Connally's recollection that the Governor turned after the first shot but before he was hit and said "Oh, no, no, no." Jackie Kennedy recalled this as well. The Governor knew immediately that it was a rifle shot and was worried about the President. He said he thought he had said "Oh, no, no, no" after he was hit but was not really sure:
When I was hit, or shortly before I was hit—no, I guess it was after I was hit—I said first, just almost in despair, I said, "no, no, no, just thinking how tragic it was that we had gone through this 24 hours, it had all been so wonderful and so beautifully executed. The President had been so marvelously received and then here, at the last moment this great tragedy. I just said, "no, no, no, no". Then I said right after I was hit, I said, "My God, they are going to kill us all." .... (from his HSCA testimony).
The Governor also recalls turning to his right and then starting to turn
to his left before he was hit. Once he was hit, he was pushed forward and to his
right by the shot and Nellie pulled him down. None of this turning is seen by
Z238. If you follow the Connallys' evidence, he could not be hit until Z270 or
so as he is still straining to his right to see JFK up to that point.
If the Governor was hit by a second bullet at Z270 or so, this fits with his evidence and the recollection of all the Dealey Plaza witnesses who described the second shot closer to the third.
And then, of course, there is the physical evidence relating to the bullets.
One has to admit that there is a problem with the trajectory through JBC to fit the SBT. The trajectory through JBC was right to left. The bullet entered the back of his armpit, not his back. The hole in his jacket and shirt was in the sleeve portion, not the back. It exited close to the middle of his chest and removed 10 cm of rib bone. This is consistent with a shot from the right rear only if JBC's chest and shoulder were turned to his right. You do not see this kind of turn until after Z238. It is perfectly consistent with being hit at around Z270 or shortly after.
One big problem is: if the first bullet went through JFK, where did it go afterward?
This is a difficult problem only because we do not have sufficient evidence. We do not know exactly what it hit. If it came out underneath JFK's tie knot, which seems to be the case, the knot could have deflected it—most likely in a downward direction. But I don't see how it could have made a right turn and then zig-zagged back to the left to exit the middle of his chest.
JFK's neck and JBC's armpit never line up properly. As I see it, the bullet should have gone over JBC's left shoulder. If JBC had turned slightly to his right, it might have gone just over the top of the jump seat to the left of his left shoulder. In that case, it could have entered his left thigh. That is an interesting possibility because it would explain the differences between the thigh and wrist wounds. Dr. Gregory, who had seen many gunshot wounds in his military service, said that the wrist wound had to have been made by an already deformed bullet because of the irregular entry marks and the fact that cloth had been drawn into the wrist wound. He said the thigh wound was very different and was round and regular:
Dr. GREGORY—This morning I was shown two additional missiles or portions of missiles which are rather grossly distorted.
Mr. SPECTER—Let me make those a part of the record here, and ask if those are the missiles which have heretofore been identified as Commission Exhibit 568 and Commission Exhibit 570.
Dr. GREGORY—These items represent distorted bits of a missile, a jacket in one case, and part of a jacket and a lead core in the other. These are missiles having the characteristics which I mentioned earlier, which tend to carry organic debris into wounds and tend to create irregular wounds of entry. One of these, it seems to me, could conceivably have produced the injury which the Governor incurred in his wrist.
Mr. DULLES—In his wrist?
Mr. DULLES—And in his thigh?
Dr. GREGORY—I don't know about that, sir. It is possible. But the rather remarkably round nature of the wound in the thigh leads me to believe that it was produced by something like the butt end of an intact missile.
Just on the basis of the witness evidence and the physical evidence as
well as the Zapruder film, I conclude that there is no evidentiary basis for the
SBT and every reason to believe that JBC was hit by the second shot between
Looking at the Zapruder film, one can see rapid forward motion of the Governor between Z274 and Z279, indicating a hit at Z273.
This was the motion that Nellie saw and the Governor felt.
And all of this fits with the lone assassin evidence.
And that is why I disagree with the SBT but not with the overall conclusions of the Warren Commission.
Back to SBT