The Herald-News, Passaic-Clifton, N.J., Top of Page 1, Oct. 16, 1975
By CAL DEAL
PATERSON - A victim of the 1966 Lafayette Grill shootings positively identified Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and John Artis as the gunmen, according to the victim's brother.
"He actually saw them. He knew who they were and they (Carter and Artis) were the people that shot him," said Jules Marins, of 1-38 17th Ave., Fair Lawn. [Read text of interview.]
It was Marin's brother, William, who was wounded just above the left eye and partially blinded in the shootings. William Marins died in 1973.
William did not identify Carter and Artis publicly because his life had been threatened and he feared for his safety, Jules Marins said.
Two other victims of the June 17, 1966 shootings died instantly. A third died a month later.
Carter , once a top middleweight boxer, and Artis were convicted of the murders in 1967. They are now seeking a new trial after two prosecution witnesses recanted their testimony.
The recollections of Jules Marins would be of no value in any future court proceedings, however. Second-hand information is considered "hearsay" by the courts and is inadmissible as evidence.
A woman acquaintance of Jules Marins, who has asked that she not be identified, said Jules told her of William's statements in 1966. She has not seen or spoken with Jules since, she said.
That year, after talking with Jules, the woman saw William in the Lafayette Grill.
"I said to him, 'Bill, why don't you tell the police the truth?'," she recalled. Marins indicated that he was afraid to do so, she said.
A Paterson resident who lives near the Lafayette Grill recalls talking with Marins about the shootings. He also has asked that he not be identified "because I don't want Carter's people coming after me."
"He (Marins) recognized Carter" as one of the gunmen, said the man, who claims to have known Marins for 20 years.
Marins was not a drunkard, say several people who knew him. Although the shootings took place at 2:30 a.m., he would have been sober enough to identify the gunmen, they said.
"It's believable," said Mrs. Patricia Valentine, who lived in a second-floor apartment above the Lafayette Grill at the time of the shootings.
Those who knew Marins said he had little money and spent a lot of time drinking the few beers he could afford. Marins was, they said, a steady drinker, but not a heavy one.
"He (Marins) was not drunk during the night of June 17, 1966," argued Carter in a recent interview with The Herald-news.
Carter has not questioned the fact that Marins did see the gunmen, but he was arguing that Marin's descriptions of the men differed somewhat and did not fit him and Artis. The discrepancies pertained to the height of the gunmen, the thickness of one gunman's mustache and the pigmentation of their skin.
According to a police reconstruction of the murders, Marins could not have seen the gunmen for more than a few seconds.
Marins was also described as being "a little slow" mentally, but five of his acquaintances that were questions said that should not detract from the credibility of the identifications. Four of those acquaintances have asked that they not be identified because the case is controversial and they fear retribution from Carter's supporters.
In his book, "The Sixteenth Round," Carter describes William Marins as being hostile to the defense during the trial.
"He knew the killers were supposed to have been black, and he seemed willing to send us to the electric chair just because John and I happened to be black, not because he thought we were guilty of the crime," Carter wrote.
"Marins didn't say John Artis and I were guilty parties, but he wouldn't say in court that we weren't either," Carter notes. [Related story: "Shooting survivor said we didn't do it, Carter claims -- but his book proves that claim to be false"]
Jules Marins said that, because of the threats, his brother was "living in terror" after the shootings.
"He just didn't want to state anything publicly," Jules Marins said. "He didn't want to get involved in any way, as far as identification. He didn't want to say anything that would hurt him, or his father, or me. So therefore, he says he didn't remember anything. But he said (to me) that he knew it was them."
William Marins' fear for his safety was evident to Andy Napolipano, the owner of Andy's Tavern, 370 E. 18th St. After the shootings, Marins began to frequent the tavern, which is only a few blocks from the Lafayette Grill.
Napolipano said Marins was afraid to stay at the tavern later than 10:30 or 11 p.m. He would stay as late as midnight, but only if he had a ride home, Napolipano said. Marins lived at 225 Keen Street, about two blocks from the tavern.
Prior to the shootings, Marins frequently stayed at the Lafayette Grill until the 3 a.m. closing time.
William Marins was seated near the center of the Lafayette Grill's bar at the time of the shootings. He was then 42.
Two black gunmen entered the bar at 2:30 a.m. June 17, 1966. After they shot the bartender and a patron, the man with a 32 caliber revolver turned and fired directly into Marins' face from only a few feet away.
The bullet struck Marins just above the left eye, but hit at such an angle that it did not penetrate the brain. Instead, it skimmed along the surface of the skull, cracking the bone and rendering Marins partially blind in one eye.
When police arrived, they found Marins standing by the bar's pool table.
Mrs. Valentine recalls talking to Marins after the shootings.
"Why didn't they kill you?" she asked him.
"Because I played dead," she quoted him as saying. "When they shot me, I fell off the bar stool and I played dead. I didn't move."
That bit of play-acting made William Marins the only survivor of the Lafayette Grill shootings.
As Carter wrote, "If there was anyone in the world who should have known what the people who committed this crime looked like, it would have to be William Marins.