James Earl Ray Essay

1145 words - 5 pages

Justice for James Earl RayThe assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the acclaimed civil rights leader, shook the world. It was hard for the American people to accept that a racist petty criminal by the name of James Earl Ray could bring an end to the life of a man so great. Perhaps the American public had a point in questioning Ray's guilt. The government and FBI investigators seemed quick to conclude that this man, Ray, was King's lone assassin (Gibbons). Though he was convicted, there is still great controversy today over whether he actually committed the heinous crime he was accused of. By the imprisonment of James Earl Ray, an innocent man, justice was not served nor can it be served until the right person or people are punished. As he did not commit the crime, and there is credible evidence that proves the murder to have actually been a government conspiracy, James Earl Ray was innocent.On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed on his balcony of the Loraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee (Overbeck). There was a search put out, and a rifle with James Earl Ray's fingerprints was soon found near the crime scene (Gibbons). Weeks later, in June of that year, Ray was arrested in a foreign country with fake passports. He pled guilty to the crime in exchange for a promise by the prosecutors not to seek the death penalty. Three days later, he recanted his plea of guilt and changed his legal council. The judge, though, died with the recantation papers on his desk making Ray's recant not valid (Who Killed). He was sentenced, without a trial, to 99 years in prison. He sought a trial for more than thirty years in an attempt to prove his innocence. He was never given that much deserved trial and died in jail of liver disease in 1998 (Who Killed).There are some who argue that James Earl Ray was guilty of King's murder, and that justice was therefore done by his imprisonment. This view, however notable, is based on distorted facts that must be put into perspective. The most prominent factor of this view, perhaps, is that Ray originally pled guilty to the crime. Also, Ray's fingerprints were found on the alleged murder weapon. His plea appears, despite its following recantation, quite incriminating. Under normal circumstances, this could be enough to condemn someone, but Ray was put through extreme torment preceding his plea. Not only was he given misleading legal advice, he experienced harsh police tactics.Now, it's true that Ray pleaded guilty to the crime in 1969. It's also true that he was kept in a brightly lit cell 24 hours a day, with two armed guards and television cameras watching him until he did so. It's also true that he did so only after his mob-connected attorney told him that he would get the death penalty unless he pleaded guilty, that his father and brother would be jailed unless he pleaded guilty, and most importantly (and falsely), that he could not change his attorney until after he had pleaded...

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