Ray Pleads Guilty to Killing of MLK

March 10, 1969 – career criminal and racist James Earl Ray pleads guilty to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Ray had been in and out of prison several times and had been sentenced to 20 years in 1959.  In 1967 he escaped prison and eluded capture moving around the United States, Canada and Mexico.  He arrived in Atlanta, hometown of MLK, on March 24, 1968 and traveled to Memphis on April 2nd.  While standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, King was shot by an assassin on April 4th.  On June 8, 1968, Ray was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport, allegedly en route to what was then called Rhodesia.  Returned to the United States, Ray confesses to the killing but recants 3 days later.  Eventually convicted, he is sentenced to 99 years in prison but would escape for 3 days in 1977.  Over the years he repeatedly attempts to win a new trial claiming that he was not the killer but was involved in a conspiracy with a mysterious man named Raul.  In 1997 King’s son meets with Ray and the King family publicly supports his efforts to obtain a retrial.  They eventually concluded that Ray was innocent.  Ray died in 1998, age 70, still claiming he was not the killer.  Questions about a conspiracy, possibly involving government agencies, are never resolved.  The only thing known for certain was Jay Edgar Hoover’s obsession with Martin Luther King.


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