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Jack Ruby Trial: 1964

Eeg Tracings

Late on the afternoon of Thursday, March 12, the prosecution presented its rebuttal of findings on Ruby's electroencephalograph (EEG) testified to by a leading expert, Dr. Frederic A. Gibbs of Chicago. His written conclusion had been that the EEG recordings "show seizure disorders of the psychomotor variant type." Gibbs had refused earlier invitations to appear in person as a witness. Now, hearing disagreement on his opinion, he flew to Dallas that Thursday evening and testified the next morning without a fee. Standing before the jury with the EEG tracings, he said, "Jack Ruby has a particular, very rare, form of epilepsy. The pattern occurs only in one-half of one percent of epileptics. It was a distinctive and unusual epileptic pattern."

Prosecutor William Alexander tried to get Dr. Gibbs to say that psychomotor variant epilepsy was not a disease. "I say it is a disease," said the doctor, "that is diagnosable from a brain-wave reading."

Judge Joe Brown's charge to the jury and defense and prosecution closing arguments went to well past 1:00 A.M. on Saturday, March 14. That afternoon, the jury deliberated for only two hours and 19 minutes before finding Jack Ruby "guilty of murder with malice, as charged in the indictment, and [we] assess his punishment at death."

More than two and a half years of appeals followed. On October 5, 1966, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals found that Ruby's statements to police immediately after shooting Oswald should not have been admitted as evidence and that he should have been granted a change of venue.

A new trial was scheduled for Wichita Falls, Kansas. However, when that city's sheriff traveled to Dallas to get Ruby in December 1966, he found him too sick to move. Jail doctors had not taken Ruby's stomach complaints seriously, but Parkland Hospital physicians now found cancer in his liver, brain, and lungs. He died on January 3, 1967, before being able to receive a new trial.

Bernard Ryan, Jr.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Belli, Melvin M. with Maurice C. Carroll. Dallas Justice: The Real Story of Jack Rulb and His Trial. New York: McKay, 1964.

Hartogs, Dr. Renatus and Lucy Freeman. The Two Assassins. New York: Crowell, 1965.

Hosty, James P., Jr. with Thomas Hosty. Assignment. Oswald. New York: Arcade, 1996.

Kantor, Seth. Who Was Jack Ruby? New York: Everest House, 1978.

Kaplan, John and Jon R. Waltz. The Trial of Jack Ruby. New York: Macmillan, 1965.

Posner, Gerald. Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK. New York: Random House, 1993.

Scott, Peter Dale. Deep Politics and the Death of JFK. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972Jack Ruby Trial: 1964 - A Police Buff, Most Jurors Saw The Shooting, Psychomotor Epilepsy, Eeg Tracings, Suggestions For Further Reading