MLK Assassination: Was James Earl Ray Innocent?
On the Hunt
James Earl Ray Didn't Do It: Exhibit B
The Rifle May Not Have Been The Murder Weapon
In the 1970s, Judge Joe Brown (yep, him) ordered that ballistics tests be run on the rifle that Ray allegedly used in the assassination. Two-thirds of the tests failed to make the shot from the boarding house to the balcony of King's room at the Lorraine Motel. Judge Brown ordered more tests to conclusively rule out Ray's alleged murder weapon but his request was denied and he was removed from the case on allegations of "bias."
In 1997, Ray's lawyers requested additional tests, arguing that advances in technology might help to conclusively rule out Ray's rifle as the murder weapon. The court granted this request and the subsequent tests backed up the 1970's findings -- there is no way to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the rifle found at the scene with Ray's prints on it was actually the weapon that murdered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
James Earl Ray Didn't Do It: Exhibit C
He Gave His Confession Under "Coercion"
When James Earl Ray was apprehended, he pled guilty to the assassination of MLK, Jr. Three days later, he recanted his confession knowing that a guilty plea was ineligible for appeal. Why would he ruin his chances for a fair trial?
He was told that if he pled guilty, he wouldn't face the death penalty, but he would face it if the case went to trial. By pleading guilty he essentially saved his life. But at what expense? Because of the guilty plea, there was no trial and therefore no chance to uncover anyone else's involvement in the murder. Was Ray threatened with death unless he pled guilty? Who didn't want their secrets to come out during the trial?
James Earl Ray Didn't Do It: Exhibit D
Witnesses Pointed Elsewhere
In the panicked moments following the assassination, a photographer took a picture of the motel balcony. King's body lies on the ground and those left standing are all pointing off in the distance in the direction of the shot. It was always assumed that the witnesses were pointing toward the James Earl Ray's boarding house window, but writer Ted Wilburn has another theory...