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King’s Son Seeks Ray’s Release Lawyer For Convicted Assassin Seeks A Medical Furlough On Humanitarian Grounds

Sat., March 21, 1998, midnight

A son of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. says the state would be cruel to deny a medical furlough to James Earl Ray for his final days.

“Here’s a man who’s close to death,” Dexter King said of his father’s imprisoned assassin. “The humanitarian aspect is not being considered.”

Ray, 70, who suffers from a serious liver disease and was briefly in a coma last week, was in fair condition Friday at a hospital.

His lead lawyer, William Pepper, has been talking to prosecutors about a possible furlough after 30 years in prison.

State law allows furloughs for inmates “in imminent peril of death” so they may spend their final months with loved ones and receive special care. Ray asked for a furlough last year but was rejected by the Department of Correction.

“We have not received an application as of this moment,” Correction spokeswoman Pam Hobbins said Friday.

Ray pleaded guilty in 1969 to killing King in 1968. He drew a 99-year prison sentence and has been trying to take back the guilty plea ever since.


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