An American soldier of fortune once active in attempts to overthrow Cuban Premier Fidel Castro refused to testify yesterday before a House Assassinations subcommittee about the slaying of President Kennedy.
The witness, Loran Eugene Hall, 47, of Los Angeles invoked the Fifth Amendment on the first question and told the subcommittee he had no intention of answering any inquiries members had in mind.
Hall told reporters later he was not going to make any statements to the committee because panel, investigatos had voiced suspicions that "I was somehow involved in the assassination" of Kennedy and then tricked him into a meeting last month where they served him with a surprise subpoena.
"I was willing to talk to them in Los Angeles" he said. "But they lied to me and they lied to Art Kevin (the radio newsman who arranged the meeting.)"
Hall, who demanded that yesterday's session be held in public, was asked only one question - whether he had been in Dallas, Tex., Nov. 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated there - when his refusal to talk cut the hearing short.
Rep. Richardson Preyer (D-N.C.), chairman of the subcommittee investigating the Kennedy murder, ruled that any further questioning would be inappropriate "since the witness has invoked his rights under the Fifth Amendment."
The subcommittee then voted to keep Hall under subpoena and ordered him back to Washington for another hearing Sept. 14 - which committee aides said will be the first regular meeting for the panel after Congress returns from its summer recess.
Hall was orginally named in the Warren Commission's report on the Kennedy assassination as an anti-Castro activist who visited the Dallas apartment of Sylvai Odio in late September, 1963, with two men. Odio told the commission that the visitors spoke to her of killing the President and that one of them, whom she later identified as Lee Harvey Oswald." [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] introduced to her as "Leon Oswald."
The FBI said Hall admitted in September, 1964, that he had visited Odio, but he later denied making such statements, and his two alleged companions denied any such meeting.
A dapper, mustachioed ex-mercenary who now works as a real estate dealer in Los Angeles, Hall has since told acquaintances that he occasionally stopped in Dallas in 1963 on various anti-Castro undertakings, but that he never took part in a conversation or meeting such as Odio described.
Hall is only the second witness to be summoned before the House Assassinations Committee in public session since it was set up nine months ago to re-investigate the murders of President Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The first was Mafia leader Santo Trafficante Jr., once the kingpin of syndicate gambling in pre-Castro Cuba, who also invoked the Fifth Amendment. Trafficante and Hall were once confined together in Havana briefly in 1959 after Castro rose to power.
As to his professed whereabouts on the day President Kennedy was killed, Hall has made no secret of that over the years despite his refusal yesterday to tell the committee. He has said he was in his apartment in Monterey Park, Calif., "in my shorts, shaving," when the news blared forth on television.