Ray, James Earl


Ray, James Earl

biographical name

(born March 10, 1928, Alton, Ill., U.S.—died April 23, 1998, Nashville, Tenn.) Assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ray was a petty criminal who had been sentenced several times to prison; he escaped from the Missouri state prison in 1967. In Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968, he shot King from the window of a rooming house as King emerged from his motel room across the street. Ray fled to Toronto, London, Lisbon, and back to London, where he was arrested on June 8. In Memphis he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. Months later, he recanted his confession, without effect. Later in life, his unsuccessful pleas to have his case reopened were supported by some civil rights leaders, notably the King family.

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