JAMES EARL RAY Biography - Crimes, Laws and people


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Name: James Earl Ray                                                                   
Born: March 10, 1928                                                                   
Died: April 23, 1998                                                                   
James Earl Ray (March 10, 1928 - April 23, 1998) was convicted of the                   
assassination of American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which       
occurred on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. Ray has been twice placed on           
the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.                                                 
A little more than two months after King's death, on June 8, 1968, Ray, an             
escaped convict who had broken out of the Missouri State Penitentiary a year           
before the assassination, was captured at London's Heathrow Airport while trying       
to leave the United Kingdom on a false Canadian passport in the name of Ramon           
George Sneyd. Ray was quickly extradited to Tennessee and charged with King's           
murder, confessing to the assassination on March 10, 1969, (though he recanted         
this confession three days later) and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. On           
the advice of his attorney Percy Foreman, Ray took a guilty plea to avoid a             
trial conviction and therefore the possibility of receiving the death penalty.         
Ray later fired Foreman as his attorney (from then on derisively calling him "Percy     
Fourflusher") claiming that a man he met in Montreal, Canada, using the alias "Raoul"   
had been deeply involved, as was his brother Johnny, but not himself, further           
asserting that although he didn't "personally shoot Dr. King," he may have been         
"partially responsible without knowing it," hinting at a conspiracy. He spent           
the remainder of his life attempting (unsuccessfully) to withdraw his guilty           
plea and secure the trial he never had.                                                 
On June 11, 1977 Ray made his second appearance, this time as the 351st entry,         
on the FBI Most Wanted Fugitives list. He and six other convicts had just               
escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, Tennessee on June 10,       
1977. They were recaptured on June 13, of the same year, and returned to prison.       
One more year was added to his previous sentence to total 100 years. Shortly           
after, Ray testified that he did not shoot King to the House Select Committee on       
In 1997 Martin Luther King's son Dexter King met with Ray, and publicly                 
supported Ray's efforts to obtain a retrial. Loyd Jowers, a restaurant owner in         
Memphis, was brought to civil court and sued as being part of a conspiracy to           
murder Martin Luther King; Jowers was found liable, and the King family was             
awarded $100 in restitution to show that they were not pursuing the case for           
financial gain.                                                                         
Ray died in prison on April 23, 1998, at the age of 70 from complications               
related to kidney disease, caused by hepatitis C probably contracted as a result       
of a blood transfusion given after a stabbing while at Brushy Mountain State           
Penitentiary. It was also confirmed in the autopsy that he died of liver failure.