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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

"JFK: Destiny Betrayed" Misleads on JFK's Head Wound, Part Two

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, tries to make the case that because Parkland Hospital doctors saw cerebellum extruding from Kennedy's head wound, that it indicated an exit wound. Here is an excerpt from a transcript: (6:52 in episode three)

Whoopi Goldberg: In addition to this large avulsion of wound [sic; should be avulsive wound] in the rear of the skull, seven personnel at Parkland Hospital saw cerebellum at the bottom of the skull.

Dr. Cyril Wecht: The brain consists of two large cerebral hemispheres, and then lower down, posteriorly, are two hemispheres, the cerebellum. They differ in coloration, they differ in the topographical markings.

Oliver Stone: So seven doctors at Parkland Hospital claimed to have seen cerebellum?

Dr. Michael Chesser: In 1963, it was one of the top trauma centers in the country, and it is still one the top trauma centers. Dr. Robert McClelland saw a clump of the cerebellum, a large clump, fall out of the skull on to the emergency room bed.

Dr. McClelland: In my mind, as sure as you can ever be about any observation, there was cerebellum extruded out to the gurney while I was standing there looking at it.

Dr. Michael Chesser: Then we have Dr. Kemp Clark. He went into detail with the Warren Commission about the result of all this loss of cerebellar tissue, if President Kennedy had survived the wound. So there was no doubt that there was loss of cerebellar tissue.

Whoopi Goldberg: This reliable eyewitness testimony indicates that the wound in Kennedy's rear skull extended quite low. And also, there was severe damage to that sector of the brain. Yet in the autopsy report, written at Bethesda by James Humes, there is no mention of the cerebellum, and he did not testify about it to the Warren Commission.

Screen shot from JFK: Destiny Betrayed showing the cerebellum.

Dr. Cyril Wecht: So these guys, good old Texan, respected doctors, and they've seen hundreds and thousands of brains, especially the neurosurgeon, saw cerebellum having been damaged, significantly displaced, in the occipital area. The doctors who did the autopsy -- read the autopsy report from Humes and Boswell. The cerebellum is intact. Who do you believe? Do you believe these Texas doctors? Or do you believe the two career naval pathologists working under military control? Who do you believe as to whether or not the cerebellum was damaged?

There are two major reasons why JFK: Destiny Betrayed makes this claim. First, it is important to show that there was a massive blowout in the back of Kennedy's head which would be suggestive of a large exit wound. Secondly, the autopsy photographs of brain show the cerebellum to be intact. So this claim is further proof that either the brain was substituted or the photographs have been altered. See my blog posts on the weight of JFK's brain, Dr. Robert Kirschner's ARRB interview, and John Stringer's testimony.

JFK Exhibit F-302. This is a drawing of JFK's brain from a photograph which shows the cerebellum to be nearly intact.

Vincent Bugliosi asked Dr. Carrico in October 2000 if the Parkland doctors were "confused about the cerebellum being damaged." He replied: (page 405 of Reclaiming History)

Oh, absolutely. Looking at the shredded pieces of brain on the gurney, it looked like some of it had the characteristics of cerebellum, which kind of has a wavy surface. But because these brain pieces were shredded, this could easily have led to confusion as to whether it was all cerebrum -- which has broader bands across the surface -- or some cerebellum.
I did say cerebellum in my first official report. And the cerebellum ordinarily is in a posterior part. And here I know very well that the wound was more anterior than that, but there was a portion of the brain that looked like it had a stalk, and is convoluted to look like what I thought was cerebellum.

Gerald Posner talked to Dr. Jenkins in 1992 who told him: (page 311 of Cased Closed)

The description of the cerebellum was my fault. When I read my report over, I realized there could not be any cerebellum. The autopsy photo, with the rear of the head intact and a protrusion in the parietal region, is the way I remember it. I never did say occipital.

Gerald Posner also talked to Dr. Perry in 1992: (page 312 in Cased Closed)

I did not really look at it that closely. But like everyone else, I saw it back there. It was in the occipital/parietal area. The occipital and parietal bone join each other, so we are only talking about a centimeter or so in difference. And you must remember the President had a lot of hair, and it was bloody and matted, and it was difficult to tell where the wound started or finished. I did not see any cerebellum.

The doctors at Parkland Hospital were frantically trying to save the life of President Kennedy. They were extremely busy and no one had the time to examine his wounds in detail. Dr. Michael Baden explained this to Gerald Posner: (page 309 in Cased Closed)

Parkland was not concerned with whether the bullet was going from front to back or vice versa, they were only treating the symptoms, not the wounds. Some of them could be good surgeons but lousy pathologists. A third of the time, an autopsy shows something was missed by the treating doctors at the hospital. In unnatural deaths, it is common for the treating physicians to mix up stab wounds and gun shots, and they are wrong about half the time about exit or entrance. The Parkland doctors did not clean Kennedy off -- there is just no way they could have hazarded a real guess about that wound, since it was covered with blood and tissue. If they say they saw cerebellum, they are just wrong because the cerebellum was perfect.
I said that I thought perhaps part of the cerebellum was missing, and that shows how even a trained observer can make an error in moment of urgency.

There are two doctors who still maintain that they saw cerebellar tissue at Parkland -- Dr. Robert McClelland and Dr. Charles Crenshaw. Conspiracy theorist Pat Speer has significant issues with Dr. McClelland who claimed to have seen a gaping hole in the back of Kennedy's head.

The other Parkland doctors disagreed with Dr. McClelland. Here is what Dr. Marion Jenkins told Gerald Posner: (page 313 in Cased Closed)

Bob is an excellent surgeon. He knows anatomy. I hate to say Bob is mistaken, but that is clearly not right. In 1988, when I went to the National Archives, the photos showed the President's brain was crenelated from the trauma, and it resembled cerebellum, but it was not cerebellar tissue. I think it has thrown off a lot of people that saw it. I guess a last point is that Bob and Groden [co-author of High Treason] are such good friends. I believed it has changed his attitude.

A future blog post will be dedicated to Dr. Charles Crenshaw who is featured in episode two of JFK: Destiny Betrayed.

The fatal shot hit Kennedy just above the occipital protuberance. It just missed the cerebellum and slightly pushed it on its way through Kennedy's head. There was deflection of the bullet by the skull. Here is an excerpt from Pat Speer's website:

But there’s another factor to be considered. And that factor is the curvature of the skull. According to Spitz and Fisher’s Medicolegal Investigation of Death, “if the bullet strikes the head at a shallow angle or in an area of significant curvature, at least some deflection of the bullet’s trajectory may be expected.” According to Aarabi and Levy’s Missile Wounds to the Head and Neck, “if a bullet is fired at an angle or hits a curved portion of the skull, deflection will usually result.” According to Brogdon's Forensic Radiology: "The natural curvature of the ribs and the skull can cause bullets to change trajectory significantly."

Speer then quotes from Larry Sturdivan's The JFK Myths (page 209):

Though all the Biophysics Lab test shots were aimed so that the WC’s specified entry and exit locations would lie on a straight trajectory, none of the bullets penetrated the front of the skull at the “intended” exit location. One even punched out through the right orbit (eye socket) near the nose. Nor were the researchers surprised by the fact that all those fragmented bullets exited from an obviously curved path. All were quite familiar with the trajectories of bullets and bullet fragments through tissue simulant.
Like the Acoustic Panel and the Forensic Pathology Panel, Canning became a bit overzealous in his support of the case being made by the HSCA staff in his “reconstruction” of a backward trajectory from the head wound. Because of the indeterminate direction and extent of curvature of the trajectory of the deformed bullet, the entry and exit locations of the head wound are of no value in reconstructing a backward trajectory. What can be concluded is that the bullet approached from the rear. The true connection between that shot and the Oswald rifle is provided, to a high degree of statistical certainty, by the engraving on the recovered jacket fragments and the Neutron Activation Analysis, which connects the lead core in one of those recovered pieces to the lead fragments recovered from the President’s head.
Likewise, the wound locations have no value in reconstructing the exit trajectory of a yawed or deformed bullet or bullet fragments. Though it probably is not noticed by most, if the exit trajectory of the HSCA path shown in Figure 42 were correct, the bullet fragments would have gone into Governor Connally’s back or the back of the car seat in front of him, not up to the windshield, as they actually did. The President was no longer sitting nearly erect by frame 312 of Zapruder’s film.96 At the time of the final shot, he was leaning forward and to his left. Figure 54 shows a drawing of the President at frame 312 with an entry trajectory from the sixth-floor window of the Depository and an exit trajectory that leads to the known impact points on and just above the windshield.97 This curvature shown in this drawing is about the amount of curvature to be expected in the trajectory of a badly deformed or broken bullet. Because the amount and direction of the curvature is unpredictable, the only way to reconstruct the path of the bullet in a drawing such as this is to use independent facts to establish the approach and exit trajectories. Without this independent information, the only thing we know for sure is that the approach and exit trajectories cannot lie on a single straight line.

Here is how Larry Sturdivan sees the trajectory: (The JFK Myths: (page 210)

Previous Relevant Blog Posts on JFK: Destiny Betrayed

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series JFK: Destiny Betrayed uses a variety of supposed witnesses to allege that the wound in the back of Kennedy's head was one of exit. Audrey Bell is one such witness and she doesn't have much credibility.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers on the motivations of Jack Ruby.

An essay on the intellectual monstrosity of JFK: Destiny Betrayed.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers into believing that Otto Otepka uncovered evidence that Oswald was a fake defector.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, alleges that Jack Ruby was signaled by car horns in the basement of the Dallas Police Department. The evidence clearly shows that there were many horns being sounded in the basement.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, misleads viewers by intimating that that there was a through-and-through hole in the windshield. This is simply not true.

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JFK: Destiny Betrayed needlessly, and unfairly, criticizes the Sixth Floor Museum.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary series, JFK: Destiny Betrayed, alleges that an extra bullet was found in JFK's limousine the evening of the assassination. This is just not true.

JFK: Destiny Betrayed alleges the CIA was involved in an assassination plot against French President Charles de Gaulle. Scenes from a fictional film are used to buttress the allegation. The truth - the CIA had nothing to do with the supposed plot.

The evidence is clear - Robert Kennedy wanted Allen Dulles on the Warren Commission.

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Previous Relevant Blog Posts on JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass

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Yes, Oliver Stone is an alterationist.

James Kirchick's terrific article on Oliver Stone and homosexuality.

Just when I thought conspiracy theorists couldn't get any crazier.

Tracy Parnell debunks a series about JFK Revisited on the WhoWhatWhy website, and Andrew Jackson debunks the film on Quora. Both articles are well worth your time.

Did Saundra Spencer really develop a completely different set of autopsy photographs?

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary tries to make the case that a White House photographer took photos at the autopsy. The only problem is that there is no evidence he was actually there.

Stone misspeaks on the Joe Rogan show about JFK's brain.

Stone misspeaks on the Joe Rogan show and I present a challenge to conspiracy theorists.

Tracy Parnell dissects Morley's article on JFK assassination documents and "JFK Revisited"

Did President Kennedy actually say that he was going to shatter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the wind?

David Talbot claims that JFK told the French Ambassador that he was not in full control of his entire government. There is no evidence he ever said that.

"JFK Revisited" Misleads on Supposed CIA Support of the 1961 Coup Attempt in France Oliver Stone's so-called documentary claims the CIA supported the 1961 coup attempt against French President Charles de Gaulle in 1961. The only thing missing is evidence.

Max Boot: Oliver Stone just can't stop spreading lies about JFK's assassination.

Did Gerald Ford really disclose to French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing that the JFK assassination was a conspiracy? Perhaps not.

Robert Kennedy, Jr. believes in a massive conspiracy regarding Covid and the intelligence agencies.

While Gerald Ford edited some language in the Warren Report, he did not change the location of the back wound. Autopsy photographs show exactly the location of the back wound.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary alleges that Oswald was "moved" to Dallas and "placed" in the Texas School Book Depository. This is totally ridiculous.

The preponderance of the evidence indicates JFK's throat wound was one of exit.

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Oliver Stone's so-called documentary claims that Guy Banister gave Oswald a room at 544 Camp Street. The evidence does not support the allegation.

Dr. Robert Kirschner's consultation with the ARRB explains a mystery in the documentary.

JFK Revisited makes a big deal about the weight of JFK's brain and ignores a non-conspiratorial explanation.

Oliver Stone's so-called documentary makes it sound like the autopsy photographer said that he did not take the photos of JFK's brain that are in the current inventory,

Oliver Stone took to Twitter last weekend to bemoan the fact that the mainstream press is ignoring his so-called documentary, JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass.

There is something really obscene about Oliver Stone once again going after Clay Shaw.

You won't learn everything you need to know about Connally's position on the shots from Oliver Stone's so-called documentary.

Oliver Stone tries to make it seem like Marina Porter has denied taking the backyard photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Oliver Stone once again raises the issue of the legitimacy of the backyard photographs of Lee Harvey Oswald.

This post debunks every witness that has ever claimed Shaw was Bertrand.

He cannot imagine any sort of non-conspiratorial explanations for any of the suspicious pieces of evidence in his film.

No, Clay Shaw was not a "contract agent."

Steve Roe Blog Posts on JFK Revisited & JFK: Destiny Betrayed

JFK: Destiny Betrayed doesn't tell the whole truth about Dr. Malcolm Perry.

Steve Roe finds additional evidence that debunks the allegation in JFK: Destiny Betrayed

that Oswald not paid by the Marines for the 3rd quarter of 1959.

Stone and DiEugenio falsely accuse the Sixth Floor Museum as openly promoting Oswald as the Assassin.

An exchange of letters between James DiEugenio and Jeremy Gunn of the ARRB.

Is This How Real Documentaries Are Made? There is some 'interesting' editing in Oliver Stone's so-called documentary.

JFK Revisited Screen Writer Crawfishes on Dallas to Chicago Airmail Overnight Delivery James DiEugenio changes his story on the Klein's money order.

Conspiracy theorist James DiEugenio doesn't understand the history of the mail deliver in the United States.

The truth about Jack Ruby and the FBI.

JFK Revisited: Again, Caught Creating False Mysteries "Stone/DiEugenio hatch another Bogus Mystery with Sinister Strap/Sling Mounts on Oswald's Rifle"

Oliver Stone claims that Oswald could not have been in the sniper's nest on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository. Steve Roe exposes Stone's mistakes.

In an interview on RT [Russia Today], Oliver Stone says that the throat wound might have been made by a flechette.

Steve Roe presents some examples of Oliver Stone's 'creative' abilities.

Oliver Stone distorts the testimony about Oswald's palmprint on the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle.


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