Mac Wallace Update

The following statement was received by Fair Play in late March. It was sent to us by Barr McClellan, the Houston attorney involved with a Texas research group investigating this aspect of the assassination. For background on the Mac Wallace identification, please see issue #23, "JFK Breakthrough?"

Briefly, that story outlined a match made by leading expert A. Nathan Darby, between a known fingerprint of convicted murderer Malcolm E. "Mac" Wallace, and a previously unidentified print found on a carton on the TSBD at the time of the JFK assassination.

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  1. FBI REPORTS NO PRINT MATCH: We were advised Monday that the National ID Center of the FBI in Washington's review of independent print expert A. Nathan Darby's fingerprint match between the left little finger of Mac Wallace and latent print #29 on box "A" from the "sniper's nest" on the sixth floor had concluded there was no match. We regret this decision. We know the FBI's review process was incomplete and should not be accepted.

  2. OBTAINING THE FBI REPORT: The "no match" report was verbal and not supported with any documentation to either the FBI's Dallas office or to the Dallas Police Department. We have no documentation yet. The FBI's review process is also unknown to us. The struggle to get the full report, if any, and the process of review leading to that report has started.

  3. SOME OBVIOUS FBI ERRORS: The initial problems with the FBI review was that they violated their key written standard of backing certified experts. The FBI also violated the important related standard of reviewing any match with the right granted to the certified expert to explain his conclusions to another certified expert. Although repeatedly made available to the FBI, they acted without talking to Mr. Darby.

    We will be seeking not just the report but all participants in the FBI's review process. Why this review took almost a year is also unacceptable. The FBI was provided the prints in May 13, 1998 and simply took its time. We know many people had to be involved. We believe it vital to see who participated and how. We do not expect an easy or a quick response to our freedom of information requests along these lines; however, we are pushing forward.

  4. CHALLENGE FOR INDEPENDENT REVIEW: What is also needed in the print review process is independent, unbiased review. We also need to make the standards clear for the review. We are proposing a further review where the government is not acting in judgment of itself, where the FBI is not defending its prior actions in the assassination, and where the known complications of solving the most terrible crime in our Nation's history can be judged properly, not by some unattainable standard no other criminal would be judged by.

  5. UNDERSTANDING PRINT EXPERTISE: In addition to proposing an independent review, we are also preparing a full and complete response to print identification. Mr. Darby has taken the initiative and his report will be made available as soon as it is finalized. Then the research community and the public can make their own decision based on the facts. There is judgment involved in print identification. With our report, the public will see why no two prints are alike, even from the same person, and we will see the vital role played by experts, particularly in a crime where there are key eyewitnesses. The FBI has forced us to put the entire expertise of fingerprint identification on trial. We are prepared to go forward as the FBI has forced us to do.

  6. WE HAVE A SOLID MATCH: We assure everyone following this vital issue that we stand by our expert and his careful, independent, and unbiased identification. We fully support his honest and his sound judgment.

We will keep you advised of further developments.

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