Jack Ruby, Dallas nightclub owner, walks through Dallas City Jail, Nov. 24, 1963 to be arraigned on murder charges. He was accused of firing a fatal bullet into the abdomen of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man charged with assassinating President Kennedy. (AP Photo)
Nearly four months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, local businessman Jack Ruby was sentenced to death in a Dallas courtroom for killing the man accused of killing the president.
On Nov. 24, 1963, two days after he was charged with Kennedy's murder and that of Dallas patrolman J.D. Tippit, Lee Harvey Oswald was to be moved from Dallas police headquarters to the more secure Dallas County Jail.
In the presence of more than 75 police officers and 50 members of the media, Oswald was ushered through the basement and toward a waiting armored car. As flash bulbs popped and the crowd surged toward Oswald, one man, Jack Ruby, slipped between them all and quickly fired a single round, point blank, into Oswald's abdomen.†
Oswald collapsed and was hospitalized, later being declared dead only a few feet from where President Kennedy was read his Last Rites.
After the gunshot, officers pounced on Ruby, taking him into custody immediately. He was eventually charged with Oswald's murder and, in March of 1964, was found guilty and sentenced to death.
In the fall of 1966, Ruby's lawyers were able to secure him a new trial that was scheduled to be held in the spring of 1967. The trial would never take place. Ruby became ill in Dec., 1966 and was taken to Parkland Hospital where he was found to be suffering from cancer. Three weeks later, on Jan. 3, 1967, Ruby died.
Ruby's shooting of Oswald fueled speculation of a conspiracy to murder the president and then silence his assassin, or the person framed as the assassin. The Warren Commission would later determine that Ruby slipped into the basement unaided, most likely via the ramp along Main Street, just three minutes before he shot Oswald.
In Dec., 1963, in a discussion with the Warren Commission, Ruby insisted on taking a polygraph test to affirm his reason for shooting Oswald. During the administration of that test, one of the questions asked if he knew Oswald, to which he replied, "No," and another asked if he shot Oswald to spare Mrs. Kennedy the ordeal of a trial, to which he replied, "Yes."†
The investigation into JFK's murder by the Warren Commission determined that both men, Oswald and Ruby, acted alone.
†Source: The Warren Commission Report