According to history, it was James Earl Ray. Personally, I have my suspicions about that. I don’t know, but I would say the chances are about 60% that the real killer walked.
I always had suspicions about the case. Call it a hunch. However, over the years, I have seen and heard things that have given me solid reasons.
- An episode of Law and order. The suspect was told that he would be given the death penalty if he didn’t sign a confession. The man said, “In the old days they used rubber hoses. I think I prefer that. At least I would have come out of it alive.”
Which is worse, beating a confession from a man or threatening him with death? Like the character in Law and Order, I would prefer the rubber hose. Regardless, I will never confess to a crime I haven’t committed.
Basically, this is what happened to James Earl Ray. I don’t know the exact percentage, but I would suspect that many people would admit to most anything if it means not being killed. In my book, it negates the value of the confession.
- They never tested the rifle. It seems to me that if the prosecuting attorney wanted to put the right guy in prison, he would have insisted on testing the rifle.
Not only did they not immediately test the rifle, but they also rested for years the testing of it. I can only conclude that they were afraid they would have egg all over their faces if it tested negative.
Finally, when the tested the rifle, it turned out inconclusive. If it tested inclusive at the time, it likely would have been devastating to their case. If it turned out negative, Ray would very likely have walked.
I have no idea what time played in the testing of the rifle, but if the test would have been inconclusive immediately after the crime, it could not have been used as evidence.
- I don’t know what proof they had against Ray. They never had to present it in court. I suspect it was a weak case at best. Moreover, Ray never got a chance to present his defense. I don’t think I like that. For that matter, I suspect that Ray never saw the evidence.
- It looked to me that they were in a hurry to convict someone. It appeared as if anyone would do. They just wanted the case closed.
I get it. I understand the advantage of confessions. They save time and money. If they tried the case, it likely would have lasted a couple of years and there is no telling how much it cost. More than that, they would have had to develop real proof and convince twelve people he was guilty.
By the way, there was also an unsettled populous in the city of Memphis. No one in the hierarchy of city government wanted to see that. Also, they didn’t much like the publicity that the assignation brought to The Bluff City.
The problem with that is that a mistake just might have been made. If so, an innocent man went to prison for life and a killer walked.
A few of my books bring up problems with our legal system. One of them is “The Floater.” If you would like to read it or any of my other 35 books, you can order it from my author’s page at
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