James Earl Ray

Date Of Birth:
10 May 1929
Date Of Death:
23 April 1998
liver failure
Place Of Birth:
Alton, Illinois
Best Known As:
The man who killed Martin Luther King, Jr.
James Earl Ray is the man who shot and killed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King was killed while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel, and police determined that James Earl Ray had shot him with a rifle from the window of a rented room across the street. Ray, who had a record as a petty criminal and was an escapee from a Missouri prison, disappeared but was captured in England two months later and charged with killing King. James Earl Ray pled guilty to the charge of murder in 1969 and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. However, he soon tried to take back his guilty plea, claiming to be innocent. By the 1990s his continued requests for a new trial had gained fresh life; a Memphis bar owner named Loyd Jowers even claimed that he participated in a plot to kill King. Dr. King's son Dexter met with Ray in 1997 and publicly supported him, and the next year Attorney General Janet Reno ordered a full review of the case. That review ended in 2000 with a finding that "no credible evidence" existed to support the claims of Jowers or the various other conspiracy theories. James Earl Ray died in prison in 1998.
Extra Credit

James Earl Ray used the alias Eric S. Galt in the months before he killed Martin Luther King.

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