March 28, 1998 in Nation/World

Probe Finds No Evidence That Ray Deserves Trial Claims Of A Conspiracy Can’t Be Supported, Official Says

Woody Baird Associated Press
 

The district attorney Friday said a reinvestigation of the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. found no evidence anyone other than James Earl Ray committed the crime.

“There is simply no credible evidence to support a new trial for Mr. Ray,” Bill Gibbons said. “The evidence against him is overwhelming.”

Gibbons’ probe began last year after King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, and son Dexter said Ray should receive a trial to clear up lingering suspicions of a conspiracy in the April 4, 1968, assassination in Memphis.

Gibbons said his investigation was limited to whether Ray had an accomplice, and did not go into wide-ranging conspiracy theories alleging involvement by the government and organized crime.

“Any such investigation is for someone else with a different mission or purpose,” he said.

“Nor did the investigation cover allegations that are so farfetched as to be beyond the bounds of credibility. We will leave those theories to the tabloids.”

Ray, now 70 and in poor health, avoided a possible death sentence by pleading guilty in 1969 and was sentenced to 99 years in prison after a rifle belonging to Ray with his fingerprints on it was found at the murder scene.

Ray later recanted his confession and contended he was framed by an underworld figure named Raoul.

Gibbons’ investigation found no evidence such a man was involved in a plot.

He also dismissed a claim by a Memphis cafe owner who said he had received $100,000 to arrange King’s murder. The man apparently made up the story to try to make money, Gibbons said.

Gibbons said his investigators were unable to take a new statement from Ray, in part because his lawyer was more interested in discussing his own theories of the crime.

Ray suffers from liver disease and has been in and out of a coma in recent months.


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