Monday, 10 March 2014

James Earl Ray pleas Guilty

10th March 1969

This day in history...James Earl Ray pleads guilty to murder of Martin Luther King Jr.

Don't be quick to judge James Earl Ray. The story of Ray's life and the unfolding of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. is a tragic one, surrounded by controversy. There is sufficient evidence suggesting Ray's guilt. However, like all assassinations and national outcries, there is always conspiracy theories and many sides to one story. 

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Early life of James Earl Ray: Ray was born,1928, into a poor family in Illinois and left school at 15 years old. He joined the U.S. army at the close of WWII and served in Germany. Ray committed his first crime in 1949 at a burglary in California. He served two years for armed robbery in Illinois in 1952, and in 1955 he was convicted of mail fraud after stealing money orders in Missouri. These convictions led him to spend 3 years in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Following his release, Ray then stole $120 in another armed robbery. Ray was then sentenced to 20 years in prison for repeated offences. He however escaped the Missouri State Penitentiary in 1967 by hiding in a truck transporting bread from the prison bakery. So far, not so good.

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
James Earl Ray's activities 1966-68: Following his escape, Ray travelled across the U.S. and managed to buy a ford mustang and obtain an Alabama driving licence in 1966. He then drove to Mexico and settled under the alias of Eric Starvo Galt. Whilst in Mexico, Ray - or Galt - attempted to try his hand as a pornography director. This however was short lived as his inexperience, use of local prostitutes and being jilted by a prostitute he had fallen for caused his business to fail and forced him to leave Mexico in 1967. Ray's next adventure found him situated in L.A where he attended bar tending courses, dance lessons, and became an avid supporter of George Wallace's presidential campaign. By supporting Wallace, Ray became a volunteer at the campaign's headquarters and shared Wallace's segregation attitudes from the African-Americans. In 1968 Ray underwent facial reconstruction and began to travel cross-country to Atlanta, Georgia. Here it was believed he gathered information of Martin Luther King Jr. and it is said that a map was found where he was staying with circles drawn around the areas of King's residence and meeting places. Ray then drove to Alabama and bought a gun under the new alias of Harvey Lowmeyer. After purchasing the rifle and learning that King was making a trip to Memphis, Ray packed a bag and went to - I'm sure you can guess - Memphis.

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George Wallace presidential campaign
The Assassination and the aftermath: King was shot on April 4th 1968 whilst standing on the second floor balcony of a hotel in Memphis. Ray fled to Toronto, obtained a Canadian passport under the alias of Ramon George Sneyd and was eventually captured at London Heathrow Airport. Ray confessed to his crime, at the advice of his lawyer, and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. If he had entered a guilty plea he would have most likely been sentenced to death. 3 days after his sentence to prison, Ray denied his confession and tried to explain that it was all a conspiracy through the government and that he was the scapegoat in the plan. Of course, nobody listened. In 1977, Ray managed to escape prison once again with a group of other inmates. He was however recaptured 3 days later and was given another year onto his sentence; now standing at 100 years. Following this, in 1977, King's son Dexter, met with Ray and publicly supported him in the attempt for a retrial. The King family have remained convinced that Ray was not responsible for King's assassination and that it was in fact the government and the mafia conspiring together with the use of Loyd Jowers who later became the focus of the 1999 civil trial for the King case. Of course, this went nowhere at the time and Ray remained in prison until he died in 1998 at the age of 70 from kidney and liver failure and hepatitis C. He was cremated and his ashes were sent to Ireland where his ancestry was traced back to. Ray did not want to be buried in America because of 'the way the government had treated him.'
Image retreived from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
The assassination of MLK at his hotel in Memphis.
This truly is a tragic story. Whether or not James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King remains a mystery as conspiracies are of course always cleverly covered up. From reading Ray's background however I am sure many believe he is guilty. The verdict of course is now down to the public. What do you think?

Image retrieved from Google. Will remove at owner's request.
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