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Martin Luther King Jr., an African-American clergyman and civil rights movement leader, was fatally shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, at 6:01 p.m. CST. He was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died at 7:05 p.m. He was a prominent leader of the civil rights movement and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was known for his use of nonviolence and civil disobedience.
|Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
|Part of the civil rights movement
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
|April 4, 1968; 55 years ago (1968-04-04)
6:01 p.m. (CST (UTC–6))
|Martin Luther King Jr.
|Remington 760 Gamemaster .30-06
|Martin Luther King Jr.
|Ray: First-degree murder
|99 years imprisonment
City of Clinton
City of Memphis
City of Nashville
James Earl Ray, a fugitive from the Missouri State Penitentiary, was arrested on June 8, 1968, at London's Heathrow Airport, extradited to the United States and charged with the crime. On March 10, 1969, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in the Tennessee State Penitentiary. He later made many attempts to withdraw his guilty plea and to be tried by a jury, but was unsuccessful. Ray died in prison in 1998.
The King family and others believe that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving the U.S. government, the mafia, and Memphis police, as alleged by Loyd Jowers in 1993. They believe that Ray was a scapegoat. In 1999, the family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Jowers for the sum of $10 million. During closing arguments, their attorney asked the jury to award damages of $100, to make the point that "it was not about the money". During the trial, both sides presented evidence alleging a government conspiracy. The accused government agencies could not defend themselves or respond because they were not named as defendants. Based on the evidence, the jury concluded that Jowers and others were "part of a conspiracy to kill King" and awarded the family the symbolic $100 they requested in damages. The allegations and the finding of the Memphis jury were later disputed by the United States Department of Justice in 2000 due to perceived lack of evidence.
The assassination was one of four major assassinations of the 1960s in the United States, coming several years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965, and two months before the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy in June 1968.
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