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Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald on live TV, yet his trial was no slam dunk

18 10 23

Two days after the assassination of United States president John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, in November 1963, the accused killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, was himself fatally shot by nightclub owner Jack Ruby.

Ruby — born Jacob Rubenstein into a Jewish family in Chicago — would be tried for murder in 1964. His shooting of Oswald had actually been captured on live TV with millions watching. Still, the subsequent trial was far from a slam-dunk, as explained in a new book, “Kennedy’s Avenger,” by Dan Abrams and David Fisher.

Celebrity lawyer Melvin Belli helped make the Ruby case into a protracted affair that featured a defense based on claims of Ruby’s mental illness, a rare tactic at the time. Belli fought the prosecution with objection after objection — including claims of antisemitism — in a trial further punctuated by the testimony of Ruby’s rabbi and with a hostage-taking by escaped prisoners from a jail upstairs. Meanwhile, a larger investigation was underway with the Warren Commission examining the assassination, while JFK conspiracy theories circulated among the public.

In a phone interview with The Times of Israel, Fisher said that Ruby’s niece contacted the authors after reading the book and shared previously unheard stories about her late uncle. She told them that after the Kennedy assassination, Ruby called his mother in Chicago later that day.

“He was crying hysterically,” Fisher said. “He said he wanted to come home because he was so emotionally overcome with this. His mother said don’t come home, stay there. He did. Two days later, he killed Lee Harvey Oswald.”

The book is part of a series co-written by the authors about individual court cases illustrating key moments in American legal history. Each case is from a different century, and all involve US presidents to some degree — including future president Abraham Lincoln working as a defense attorney in a murder case back in 1859.

Fisher has co-authored many other books with many other authors — including separate titles with the late George Burns, former New York Mets pitcher Tug McGraw and then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. (Asked about his collaboration with America’s 45th president, Fisher laughed and mentioned some of his other collaborators, from Nobel laureates to........

© The Times of Israel

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