MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- James Earl Ray, hinting a conspiracy existed, pled guilty today to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Ray was the only person in court to suggest others may have taken part in the April 4, 1968 sniper slaying of the Nobel peace prizewinner.
Ray pled guilty in a deal with the prosecution that he will be sentenced to 99 years in the Tennessee State Prison at Nashville, instead of taking the chance that a jury might sentence him to death in the electric chair.
A jury of 12 men, two of them Negroes, was selected from the first 12 names on the jury list. Each juror agreed to the deal, and all 12 were sworn in at 10:05 a.m. CST, only 20 minutes after the trial begin.
Ray's guilty plea put an end to reports that he had balked at the deal, evidently arranged by his attorney, Percy Foreman. The guilty plea was the first confirmation of the deal, rumored since Foreman asked for a hearing late last week.