Clay Laverne Shaw (March 17, 1913 – August 15, 1974) was a businessman in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was the only person prosecuted in connection with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He was found not guilty.
|Born||March 17, 1913
Kentwood, Louisiana, United States
|Died||August 15, 1974 (aged 61)
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
|Cause of death||Lung, brain and liver cancer|
|Occupation||Businessman and director of the International Trade Mart in New Orleans|
|Known for||Head of the International Trade Mart; charged for being part of a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.|
Shaw was honorably discharged from the United States Army as a major in 1946. He served as a office secretary to the General Staff and was decorated by three nations: The United States with the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star, by France with the Croix de Guerre and named Chevalier de l'Ordre du Merite, and by Belgium named Chevalier of the Order of the Crown of Belgium.
After World War II Shaw helped start the International Trade Mart in New Orleans which facilitated the sales of both domestic and imported goods. He was known locally for his efforts to preserve buildings in New Orleans' historic French Quarter.
New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison prosecuted Clay Shaw on the charge that Shaw and a group of right-wing activists, including David Ferrie and Guy Banister, were involved in a conspiracy with elements of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to kill President Kennedy. Garrison arrested Shaw on March 1, 1967. Garrison believed that Clay Shaw was the man named as "Clay Bertrand" in the Warren Commission Report. Garrison claimed that Shaw used the alias "Clay Bertrand" among New Orleans' gay society.
is part of the
Jim Garrison Investigation
JFK Assassination series.
|John F. Kennedy|
|George de Mohrenschildt|
|Dean Andrews Jr.|
|Fair Play for Cuba Committee|
|Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front|
|Trial of Clay Shaw|
|People involved in the trial of Clay Shaw|
During the trial, which took place in January-February 1969, Garrison called insurance salesman Perry Russo as his main witness. Russo testified that he had attended a party at the apartment of anti-Castro activist David Ferrie. At the party, Russo said that Ferrie, Oswald, and "Clay Bertrand" (who Russo identified in the courtroom as Clay Shaw) had discussed killing Kennedy.
Critics of Garrison argue that his own records indicate that Russo's story had evolved over time. A key source was the "Sciambra Memo", which records Assistant D.A. Andrew Sciambra's  first interview with Russo. Not only does the memo fail to mention an "assassination party", it says that Russo met Shaw on two occasions, neither of which occurred at the "party". Sciambra blamed himself for leaving out the Shaw/Ferrie/Oswald party episode, an omission that Shaw's attorneys were able to exploit by raising questions about the validity of Perry Russo's testimony.
Another Garrison witness, Charles Spiesel, further weakened the prosecution's case with his testimony. Spiesel said, under cross examination, that he had filed a lawsuit in 1964 against a psychiatrist and the City of New York. He testified that, over a period of several years, the police and others had hypnotized him and harassed him out of business. He also said that he regularly fingerprinted his children. Spiesel had been called as a witness for his claim that he had attended a gathering where Clay Shaw was present and identified himself as "Clay Bertrand". Land titles records showed the building where Spiesel claimed to have met Shaw was indeed owned by Shaw at the time of the alleged meeting. Shaw was acquitted less than one hour after the case went to the jury.
Garrison later wrote a book about his investigation of Clay Shaw and the subsequent trial called On the Trail of the Assassins. In the book, Garrison states that Shaw had an "extensive international role as an employee of the CIA". Shaw denied any such connections.
In 1979, Richard Helms, former director of the CIA, testified under oath that Clay Shaw had been a part-time contact of the Domestic Contact Service of the CIA, where Shaw volunteered information from his travels abroad, mostly to Latin America. By the mid-1970s, 150,000 Americans (businessmen, journalists, etc.) had provided such information to the DCS.
In 1979, the House Select Committee on Assassinations stated in its Final Report that the Committee was "... [i]nclined to believe that Oswald was in Clinton [Louisiana] in late August, early September 1963, and that he was in the company of David Ferrie, if not Clay Shaw". and that witnesses in Clinton, Louisiana "... established an association of an undetermined nature between Ferrie, Shaw and Oswald less than 3 months before the assassination".
Shaw died on August 15, 1974 (aged 61) about 12:40 AM at his residence, 1022 St. Peter Street. The death certificate was signed by Dr. Hugh M. Batson, with the cause of death listed as metastatic lung cancer. No autopsy was performed.