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Psychiatrist Testifies that Ruby was in “Fugue State” Nov. 24

Jan. 20, 1964 - A New York psychiatrist testified in a Dallas courtroom today that Jack Ruby (pictured Nov. 24) did not know right from wrong when he shot the accused assassin of President Kennedy. Dr. Walter Bromberg said Ruby had told him that he did not remember the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald on Nov. 24. Dr. Bromberg, who examined Ruby for 11 hours on behalf of the defense, said that a severe emotional shock caused by President Kennedy’s assassination had triggered Ruby into a “fugue state.” In such a condition, a person acts automatically with no memory later of what he has done, the doctor said. Ruby was susceptible to this condition, Dr. Bromberg said, because of the apparent organic damage to his brain.

When the prosecution objected to the introduction of psychiatric and psychological testimony at this time, the chief defense attorney, Melvin Belli of San Francisco, argued that the material was relevant to a bail hearing. Ruby is not eligible for bail unless the defense produces proof that he may not receive capital punishment. By introducing testimony today asserting that Ruby was not legally sane at the time of the shooting, Mr. Belli hoped to quality their client for bail.

Dr. Bromberg stated that Ruby had been severely on the head twice in his life; that he had suffered from severe depression at three periods, including the days immediately after President Kennedy’s assassination; and that he had contracted gonorrhea on four occasions. Ruby’s first head injury came when he was pistol-whipped in a fight in Chicago when he was in his late teens. In 1941, at the age of 30, he suffered a second head injury and was treated in hospital for a concussion. The tip of the index finger of his left hand was later amputated after someone had bitten through it to the bone.

Ruby’s first serious depression occurred in 1940, Dr. Bromberg said, when a friend in Chicago’s labor movement was killed during a strike. The psychiatrist said Ruby had fallen “into a more severe depression in 1952” after a nightclub in which he had a financial interest failed. Ruby said that he had “holed up in a hotel room for two months,” thinking of suicide. Ruby’s third depression began when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas last Nov. 22. Ruby called a sister in Dallas, Mrs. Eva Grant, and told her how “precious” the late President had been. She quoted Ruby as having said: “I will have to leave Dallas. Dallas is ruined.” Later, however, mixing with the police officers and reporters at the city jail after Oswald had been arrested, Ruby told the psychiatrist he had felt like “a big guy” being “in with the police.” His acceptance by the officers made him feel that was “a right guy.”

Dr. Bromberg described Ruby’s feelings toward President Kennedy as “a love that passed beyond a rational appreciation of a great man, coming out of the unconscious.” Dr. Bromberg said Ruby had told his family after the assassination: “This is the end of my life.” Dr. Bromberg concluded that Ruby’s killing of Oswald “was in response to an irresistible impulse. His knowledge of right and wrong were obliterated at the time of the crime.”


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