Don's Blog: Why Did Perry Russo Recant His Trial Testimony

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Why Did Perry Russo Recant His Trial Testimony

 I recently answered an inquiry regarding Perry Russo's recantation of his trial testimony. This was in response to an explanation given by a leading conspiracy (and pro-Jim Garrison) theorist.

I cover this in quite some detail in my biography of Clay Shaw, Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw.

Of course, some would maintain that Russo's testimony at trial was weak at best, and I don't disagree. He contradicted stories he had initially given to investigators from Jim Garrison's office, as well as to several reporters who interviewed him before he emerged as a "key" witness (really, the witness) in Clay Shaw's prosecution.

Two years later, Russo refused to testify at a prominent Federal court hearing about Shaw's pending prosecution for perjury; Russo instead took the 5th Amendment. He then met secretly on four occasions from January-April 1971 with Clay Shaw's lawyers and investigators, essentially recanting the most damaging parts of his trial testimony, but not doing so while under oath in an open court hearing.

Russo had to be coaxed a bit into fully recanting, and at times he seems to give off the impression that he is simply weary of the whole thing, ready to put it behind him. I mentioned this in my book, although I believe the weight of the evidence, taking into account all the versions Russo told about Clay Shaw, indicates that he never saw Clay Shaw engaging in the makings of a conspiracy.


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