South Texas College of Law Houston Hosts Two-Day Presentation: State of Texas v. Lee Harvey Oswald with World-Renowned JFK Assassination Experts
World-renowned experts on the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy convened at South Texas College of Law Houston (STCL Houston) recently for the two-day mock trial: State of Texas v. Lee Harvey Oswald – the criminal trial that never occurred.
History buffs and fans of courtroom drama witnessed an insightful and entertaining presentation, in which a Harris County judge, prosecutors, and defense attorneys argued this landmark case using 21st century techniques in front of Harris County jurors.
Cosponsored by STCL Houston and Citizens Against Political Assassinations (CAPA), the event included the delivery of opening and rebuttal statements, the testimony of renowned medical, ballistic, and legal experts, the analysis of actual evidence from the assassination – including information presented publicly for the first time – and an evaluation of constitutional rights in 1963 and today.
“At South Texas College of Law Houston, we are pleased to host some of the nation’s preeminent medical and legal JFK assassination experts for this two-day presentation,” said Donald J. Guter, president and dean of the law school. “It is fascinating for our students and the legal community in Houston to hear the insights of these leaders – from an actual surgeon who fought to save former President John F. Kennedy’s life, to members of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. This presentation is a unique educational event that law students and practicing attorneys would otherwise never have the opportunity to witness.”
The Honorable Jay T. Karahan ’83, judge of the Harris County Criminal Court at Law, No. 8, and STCL Houston alumnus, presided over the presentation; and Gus E. Pappas ‘88, partner at Dabney & Pappas, and STCL Houston alumnus acted as prosecuting attorney.
Defense counsel included: Robert K. Tanenbaum, trial attorney, novelist, and former mayor of Beverly Hills, Calif., and former deputy chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations; Lawrence P. Schnapf, CAPA board member, and adjunct professor, New York Law School; and Bill Simpich, San Francisco-based civil rights attorney, and author of “State Secret: Wiretapping in Mexico City, Double Agents, and the Framing of Lee Oswald.”
Expert witnesses for the event included:
- Robert N. McClelland, M.D., member of the team of surgeons who worked to save former President John F. Kennedy’s life at Parkland Hospital in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963; professor emeritus, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
- Gary Aguilar, M.D., member, CAPA board of advisors; member, Forensic Pathology Panel of the House Select Committee on Assassinations
- David W. Mantik, M.D., Ph.D., leading expert on the medical evidence in the JFK assassination; Palm Desert, Calif.-based radiation oncologist
- Michael Chesser, M.D., was granted permission by Sen. Paul Kirk, the Kennedy family representative for the Deed of Gift, to view the JFK autopsy cranial X-rays and autopsy photographs; board certified in neurology and clinical neurophysiology, with over 25 years of experience in clinical practice; former associate professor of neurology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
- Clifford Spiegelman, Ph.D., distinguished professor of statistics at Texas A&M University and author of over 100 scientific publications; author of the award-winning paper recognized by the American Statistical Association, “Chemical and Forensic Analysis of JFK Assassination Bullet Lots: Is a Second Shooter Possible?”
- Lucian C. Haag, former criminalist and technical director of the Phoenix Crime Laboratory, with nearly 50 years of experience in the field of criminalistics and forensic firearm examinations; president, Forensic Science Services Inc.
- Donald B. Thomas, Ph.D., prolific author, including, “The Acoustical Evidence in the Kennedy Assassination Revisited,” and more than 100 scientific journal articles, book chapters, and books.
“I was honored to be a part of the program,” said Pappas. “For all in attendance, students and lawyers alike, the events highlighted the value of trial counsel, preparation, trial tactics, and the passion that still surrounds JFK’s assassination. A special thanks to our prosecution team, Amanda Webb, STCL Houston grad; Nicole Hilburn, STCL Houston grad; Lucian C. Haag, criminalist, wound ballistician, and true gentleman; and Robert A. Wagner, author of “The Assassination of JFK Perspectives Half a Century Later.”
When the jury was dismissed to deliberate, John Orr – former director of Criminal Enforcement in the United States Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division – provided compelling testimony as part of an ethics panel, in which he used animations to explain the trajectory of bullets fired at the presidential limousine in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
The in-depth, technical presentation eventually resulted in a hung jury Friday evening.
“The mock trial was a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience experts of this caliber,” said third-year STCL Houston student Cara Woolet who witnessed the presentation. “I thought the time elapsed from the events would diminish the emotion of the mock murder trial, but I was wrong! The evidence and experts were shocking and enlightening and deepened my curiosity of this American tragedy.”