James Earl Ray Research Paper

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James Earl Ray arguably became one of the most infamous murderers of the 20th century when he murdered Dr. Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN. On March 10, 1969, Ray pleads guilty to murder and receives a 99 year sentence, cementing his name in history. The murder of Dr. King sparked riots and protests across the nation, and some argue set back the civil rights movement with the loss of one of the movement’s most notable figures. Three days after the guilty plea, Ray wrote the judge for a new trial professing his innocence (PBS, 2010). The years following and several lawyers later, Ray never got another day in court, but maintained his innocence. Ray was a criminal; he had convictions for theft, armed robbery, and was discharged from the Army for ineptness and lack of adaptability for service (National Archives, 1979). After his release from the Army, Ray lived in several locations and began committing crimes after being laid off from a job and was in and out of jail and prison (became familiar with the justice system). Accounts suggest that he was a racist and hated black people - one unnamed friend quoted Ray as having …show more content…

on July 19, 1968 from London, England, the judicial process began. Ray initially provided an alibi of simply being the getaway driver for a co-conspirator named “Raoul”, and that Raoul was the shooter (Archives, 1998). He stuck to the story even when evidence was mounting against him and proving that Raoul did not exist. The rifle, scope, beer cans, and Mustang all had Ray’s fingerprints on them and no other prints were found. The investigation also found that Ray purchased the rifle believed to be used to kill King in Birmingham, AL. along with a pair of binoculars - witness testimony placed Ray acquiring these items. Ray was also identified as renting the room at the boarding house and his description matched those seeing a man fleeing the boarding house after the

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