Jack Ruby: Voices from History

All Exhibits

Aftermath

Jury
Bill Winfrey Collection

On March 14, 1964, the jury took 140 minutes to find Jack Ruby guilty of murder with malice and to sentence him to death in the electric chair. Brown allowed cameras in the courtroom for the reading of the verdict. Immediately afterward, pandemonium broke loose.

City of Shame

Well, when the verdict came, we opened the door for the cameras to come in and so forth. Here was that horde again that jumped up on top of the witness tables for camera positions, just jumped up on the furniture. ... Judge Brown got a telephone call ... saying, 'They're making your courtroom look like a clown's room.'

Murphy Martin, ABC News correspondent
Oral History Collection

 

Immediately Mr. Belli was screaming like a wild man. … The cameramen climbed the walls to get shots and microphones up to Mr. Belli and others to Mr. Wade.

Max Causey, jury foreman
Memoir, Max Causey Collection

 

This is a kangaroo railroad. … I hope the people of Dallas are proud of this jury that was shoved down our throats. … And every Texas jurist knows this thing was the greatest railroading kangaroo court disgrace in the history of American law. … Why, in a civilized country in the heart of darkest Africa, you wouldn't argue a man's life starting at 12:00 in the morning. When I think we're coming into Holy Week and Good Friday, to have a sacrifice like this, I think we're back 2,000 years. And the blight that's on Dallas with those 12 people who announced the death penalty in this case, they'll make this a city of shame forevermore.

Melvin Belli, defense attorney
March 14, 1964
WFAA-TV Collection

In Retrospect

Many people, including Jack Ruby, believed he could have received a lesser sentence if Belli would have chosen a defense other than psychomotor epilepsy, if the trial would have been held outside of Dallas, and if Ruby had testified on his own behalf.

Appeal

In October 1966, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Ruby's death penalty on two grounds—that Dean gave false and inadmissible testimony and that the court should have moved the trial outside Dallas County. Phil Burleson was appointed Ruby's chief defense attorney. The new trial was to be held in Wichita Falls in February 1967.

Decline and Death

After Ruby received the original death sentence, his mental and physical health began to deteriorate rapidly. On December 9, 1966, Ruby was admitted to Parkland Memorial Hospital apparently suffering from pneumonia. Tests quickly revealed terminal cancer. He died of a blood clot in his lung on January 3, 1967.