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"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on JFK's Autopsy

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, alleges that autopsy pathologists were told to fit the wounds to a presupposed conclusion. Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (56:27 in episode 3, in a segment on General Curtis LeMay)


Dr. Gary Aguilar: “But these three autopsy pathologists, who were not really credentialed to do that kind of an autopsy, were given the body, told ‘here’s the body, he was shot from behind, he fell forward’ which they wrote in their autopsy report, ‘figure out how the wounds fit the known circumstances of the shooting'”


Indeed, here are the first two paragraphs from the Clinical Summary of the autopsy report:


Where might the information that the "President fell forward" come from?


Well, it was all over the wire services:


Birmingham News, November 23, 1963


Here is a teletype regarding the assassination:


Is it really so unusual to include some of this information in an autopsy report?


Here is what Dr. Aguilar said in his article, How Five Investigations Into JFK's Medical/Autopsy Evidence Got it Wrong:

“Three shots were heard and the President fell forward bleeding from the head,” the autopsy report stated. It continued with, “According to newspaper reports (‘Washington Post’ 11/23/63) (sic) Bob Jackson, a Dallas Times Herald Photographer (sic), said he looked around as he heard the shots and saw a rifle barrel disappearing into a window on an upper floor of the nearby Texas School Book Depository Building.”[33] Kennedy’s reaction to the fatal shot and the observations of a witness became part of the autopsy evidence that the shots had come from behind. Using credible background information concerning the scene of a murder in autopsy reports is neither improper nor is it unusual. However, in this case the information turned out to be as inaccurate as it likely was influential. (emphasis added)

Here Dr. Aguilar says the information was only "influential."


Dr. Pierre Finck was asked about this at his deposition by the ARRB: (emphasis added)


Q [Jeremy Gunn]: Those are the words that are in the autopsy protocol. Can you tell me why in an autopsy protocol it would be written that a victim fell forward? What relevance does that have to an autopsy protocol?

A: "Fell forward, bleeding from the head." Well, this is part of the clinical summary, the information given, and it's part of the information provided, "fell forward." See, this is not the words of the pathologist. It is information provided to them.

Q: And so the pathologists at the time that they wrote the autopsy protocol were under the impression that President Kennedy had fallen forward after being shot, is that correct?

A: Yes


It appears that Dr. Aguilar is a 'back-and-to-the-leftist,' and that he believes the movement of JFK's head outweighs other evidence. But where is the evidence to sustain the allegations made by Dr. Aguilar?


Dr. Aguilar implies that if the autopsy pathologists knew that JFK's head went 'back and to the left' that they would have written a different autopsy report. But would they? They identified the entry and the exit wounds in JFK's head and they saw the beveling that told them which wound was entry and which wound was exit. The evidence was pretty clear.


Here is a quote from Dr. Humes from an article by Dennis Breo in the Journal of the American Medical Association:


There is no evidence to support Dr. Aguilar's claim that the doctors "were given the body, told 'here's the body, he was shot from behind, he fell forward' .... 'figure out how the wounds fit the known circumstances of the shooting.'" Perhaps James DiEugenio will provide some evidence in his upcoming book on the film.


And every single forensic pathologist who has examined JFK's autopsy x-rays and photographs has come to the same conclusion: that JFK was hit from behind by two

shots, one to the head and one to the upper back/neck.


And we also now know that JFK's head does move forward between Zapruder frames 312 and 313. Nick Nalli's important review of Josiah Thompson's book, Last Second in Dallas, clearly demonstrates that the forward motion was not a "blur illusion."


Here is Nick Nalli's paper which examines the subsequent rearward motion of JFK's head:

It is therefore found that the observed motions [after frame 313] of President Kennedy in the film are physically consistent with a high-speed projectile impact from the rear of the motorcade, these resulting from an instantaneous forward impulse force, followed by delayed rearward recoil and neuromuscular forces.

I want to thank Paul Hoch who noticed the ridiculous allegation made by Dr. Aguilar.



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