Tuesday, February 19, 2008

DALLAS (AP) — Long-hidden items and documents related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy were revealed for the first time yesterday, after spending nearly two decades locked inside a courthouse safe.

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins presented the articles at a Presidents Day press conference while standing next to brown and white file boxes stacked in a pyramid.

The items included a purported transcript between Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and Oswald’s killer, nightclub owner Jack Ruby; a leather gun holster that held the weapon Ruby used to shoot Oswald; brass knuckles found on Ruby when he was arrested; and a movie contract signed by then-Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade.

Mr. Watkins said investigators told him about the contents of the blue, two-door safe shortly after he took office last year.

“And every DA up until the new administration decided that they wanted to keep it secret,” he said. But he decided “this information was too important to keep secret.”

One of the most intriguing items was the typed transcript of a conversation between Oswald and Ruby. The transcript, which hasn’t been examined by experts and has already been called farfetched by some, includes talk of killing the president at the behest of the mafia.

“Now we don’t know if this is an actual conversation or not,” Mr. Watkins said. “But what we do know is that as a result of this find, it will open up the debate as to whether there was a conspiracy to assassinate the president.”

Ruby killed Oswald on Nov. 24, 1963, two days after Oswald was arrested in the assassination of Kennedy. Ruby was convicted and sentenced to death the following year. He won an appeal of his conviction but died of cancer before he was retried.

The two-page transcript resembles one published by the Warren Commission, which investigated Kennedy’s assassination and determined that Oswald had been the lone gunman.

In the report, the FBI concluded that a transcript of a conversation between Oswald and Ruby was fake and that it had been “re-created” for authorities by a now-deceased Dallas attorney who claimed he recognized Oswald in a newspaper photo as the man he saw talking to Ruby.

The transcript made public yesterday is dated Oct. 4, 1963, and happened at the Carousel Club, a Dallas nightclub.

Gary Mack, curator of the Sixth Floor Museum near where the president was shot, thinks the document displayed yesterday could be one of many scripts written for films about the assassination. “My best guess is somebody found that transcript, reworked it for the movies and Henry Wade wound up with a copy,” he said.

A 1967 movie production deal signed by Mr. Wade, who prosecuted Ruby, was in the safe. It’s not clear why the film was never produced, Mr. Watkins said.

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