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This Day in Georgia History

April 23, 1998

James Earl Ray Died

In Nashville, Tenn., James Earl Ray died of kidney failure and liver disease at age 70. Thirty years earlier, Ray had avoided the possibility of a death sentence by pleading guilty to killing Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, for which he sentenced to 99 years in prison. Later, Ray recanted his confession, saying he was framed. Prior to Ray’s death, members of the King family became convinced that a conspiracy involving high official in the U.S. government - not Ray - was responsible for King’s assassination. In response to Ray’s death, Coretta Scott King called for a new and complete investigation of her husband’s death.