The evidence that James Earl Ray did not kill Martin Luther King is overwhelming. As the Washington Post recently pointed out, famed attorney William Pepper stands astride all of the information and work that has uncovered the truth.
Pepper was a friend of King in the last years of his life. Some years after King's death, Pepper went on to represent James Earl Ray in his guilty plea and subsequent conviction. But Pepper believes that Ray was framed by the FBI, the CIA, the military, the Memphis police, and organized crime figures from New Orleans and Memphis.
In this WhoWhatWhy podcast, William Pepper talks to Jeff Schechtman about the totality of the case. He tells of his initial interview with Ray, 40 years ago, and why it became clear to him right away that Ray was innocent. Pepper explains that Ray had no motive for the shooting, that he acted at the direction of his handler, a man named “Raoul,” with clear ties to Hoover and the FBI.
Pepper explains how, over the years, the evidence has mounted about Hoover’s hatred of King, which lay behind the FBI’s unending surveillance of King and the entire civil rights movement, and why Hoover sent his number two man, Clyde Tolson, to Memphis to help oversee the assassination of King and to help set up Ray as the patsy.
It’s a story that actually begins a half century ago today, in a hospital emergency room in Memphis. Pepper thinks it's possible that King did not die from the gunshot wound — but that he was actually murdered in that emergency room.
William F. Pepper is the author of The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Skyhorse Publishing, January 16, 2018).