IN THE CIRCUITCOURTOFSHELBY COUNTY,
TENNESSEE FOR THE THIRTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT AT MEMPHIS
CORETTA SCOTT KING, et al,
Vs. Case No. 97242
LOYD JOWERS, et al,
EXCERPT OF PROCEEDINGS
December 8th, 1999
Before the Honorable James E. Swearengen,
Division 4, judge presiding.
DANIEL, DILLINGER, DOMINSKI, RICHBERGER, WEATHERFORD COURT
Suite 2200, One Commerce Square
21 Memphis, Tennessee 38103
For the Plaintiff:
DR. WILLIAM PEPPER
Attorney at Law
New York City, New York
For the Defendant:
MR. LEWIS GARRISON
attorney at Law
Court Reported by:
MR. BRIAN F. DOMINSKI
Certificate of Merit
Registered Professional Reporter
Daniel, Dillinger, Dominski, Richberger & Weatherford 22nd Floor
One Commerce Square
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
THE COURT: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We've
got two more depositions that we're going to -- no. As I promised you,
we're going into the arguments of counsel, and then you'll get your
As I indicated to you earlier, the plaintiff would give his summary
first. The defendant then would give his version, and then the plaintiff
is allowed an opportunity to respond to the defendant's arguments.
Mr. Pepper, you may proceed.
MR. PEPPER: Thank you, Your Honor. Good morning,
ladies and gentlemen. Let me right at the out set thank you for your
attention throughout these proceedings, long and sometimes tedious
though they may have been. We're very grateful for your sitting here and
listening to the variety of evidence that you have heard.
Your Honor will charge you on the various aspects of evidence that
you heard. You know you've heard a great deal of testimony here. You
also have available to you a great number of exhibits that are attached
to the testimony that you have heard.
We urge you to at any point require these exhibits to be brought to
you so that you can read them and consider them at length. All the
testimony, the various levels of credibility that you describe, his
Honor will charge you with that, but it is really down to you at the end
of the day as to how much you believe the various people who sat in that
chair there and who told you things.
The media is very quick and prompt to say and yell out that such and
such is hearsay, second-hand accounts, third-hand accounts. But the
media is unable to tell you, ever course, what the law is with respect
to hearsay evidence.
They think because something is hearsay, a person is saying what
another person has said, that it is not to be regarded, it is to be
dismissed. In actual fact, ladies and gentlemen, if a witness is giving
you hearsay but the hearsay statement is from a person who is speaking
against his own interest, saying something that could put him in jail in
the case of the defendant here, could have him indicted, then that is to
be taken very seriously. It is admissible because of that exception.
There are a range of other exceptions why you can consider hearsay.
Now, it is my job, my role here this morning, to summarize the
plaintiffs' case. It is a case that is divided really into nine
sections. In the course of presenting that case to you, we've taken
witnesses out of order simply because they have come from various parts
of the country and the world.
We've had problems with schedules. So at one time you would hear a
witness talking to you about a rifle, a murder weapon in evidence, then
another time you would hear a witness talking about a crime scene, and
we had already gone over that. So it is difficult for you sometimes
perhaps to put all those pieces together in an orderly fashion. That's
really what I have to do. I have to try to do that. I have to set it out
so that you can see how this case folds together. I'm going to try to
work with you on that this morning and try to help you understand it as
best I can. Plaintiffs' case began with a section that dealt with the
background, the background of all of this, why you are here, why Martin
King was assassinated, why he came to Memphisbefore he was assassinated. So it dealt
with the background.
Then we moved with a second area concerned which was local conspiracy
we called it, what was happening here in Memphis, what events were going on that
constituted conspiracy, legally civil conspiracy under the law. Because
that's really what we are asking you to find is that there was a
Thirdly, we dealt with the crime scene. What was this crime scene all
about. Where was the crime scene? What happened there?
Fourthly, we went into the rifle. This is the murder weapon. We
discussed the murder weapon and asked you to consider all the evidence
with respect to the murder weapon. We move next to a shadowy figure
called Raoul. Who is this man who was claimed to have been James Earl
Ray's controller and the role that he played in this case?
Then we move beyond that to what we have called a broader conspiracy
Memphis that reached into the higher levels of
the government of the
United Statesand some of its agents
and officials. We moved through that with you. We went beyond that,
then, into really what amounts to a cover up. What was the cover-up
activity and why was it important and why have these events been
from public view so that only you, you twelve,
fourteen, here day after day, and his Honor, alone perhaps in this broad
land, have heard this evidence.
How could that be, a case as important as this? How could that be?
But it has been the case. Then we considered the defendant's admissions,
the defendant -- the named defendant in this case, his actual
admissions, against his own interest and what is in evidence with
respect to that.
We moved lastly really to the area of damages. And there was a fair
amount of testimony on damages from the members of the family with
respect to what they were looking for and what their perspective was in
terms of any kind of remuneration for the loss that they have suffered.
So that's the outline. Now let's look at each of those sections, if
First the background. Martin King, as you know, for many years was a
Baptist preacher in the southern part of this country, and he was thrust
into leadership of the civil rights movement at a historic moment in the
civil rights movement and social change movement in this part of the
country. That's where he was. That's where he has been locked in time,
locked in a media image, locked as an icon in the brains of the people
of this country.
But Martin King had moved well beyond that. When he was awarded the
Noble Peace Prize he became in the mid-1960's an international figure, a
person of serious stature whose voice, his opinions, on other issues
than just the plight of black people in the South became very
significant world-wide. He commanded world-wide attention as few had
before him. As a successor, if you will, to Mahatmas Gandhi in terms of
the movement for social change through civil disobedience. So that's
where he was moving. Then in 1967, April 4, 1967, one year to the day
before he was killed, he delivered the momentous speech at
RiversideChurch in New Yorkwhere he opposed the war.
Now, he thought carefully about this war. He had been inclined to
oppose it for quite a long period of time. Prior to that, two, three
years prior to that he had uneasy feelings.
I remember vividly, I was a journalist in Vietnam, when I came back
he asked to meet with me, and when I opened my files to him, which were
devastating in terms of the effects upon the civilian population of that
country, he unashamedly wept.
I knew at that point really that the die was cast. This was in
February of 1967. He was definitely going to oppose that war with every
strength, every fiber in his body. And he did so. He opposed it. And
from the date of the
Riverside speech to the date he was killed, he
never wavered in that opposition. Now, what does that mean? Is he an
enemy of the State? The State regarded him as an enemy because he
opposed it. But what does it really mean, his opposition? I put it to
you that his opposition to that war had little to do with ideology, with
capitalism, with democracy. It had to do with money. It had to do with
huge amounts of money that that war was generating to large
multinational corporations that were based in the
United States , corporations
that were based in the
When Martin King opposed the war, when he rallied people to oppose
the war, he was threatening the bottom lines of some of the largest
defense contractors in this country. This was about money. When he
threatened to bring that war to a close through massive popular
opposition, he was threatening the bottom lines of some of the largest
construction companies, one of which was in the State of
Texas , that patronized the Presidency of
Lyndon Johnson and had the major construction contracts at CamRanBay in Vietnam. This is what Martin King was challenging. He was challenging the
weapons industry, the hardware, the armament industries, that all would
lose as a result of the end of the war.
Forget about democracy, forget about any ideology. This opposition to
Martin King, this growing enmity to him, was based on money and the loss
of money. The second aspect of his work that also dealt with money that
caused a great deal of consternation in the circles of power in this
land had to do with his commitment to take a massive group of people to
Washington and there to encamp them in the shadow of the Washington
memorial for as long as it took. For as long as it took, they would make
daily trips to the halls of Congress and they would try to compel the
Congress to act, as they had previously acted in terms of civil rights
legislation, now to act in terms of social legislation.
Now, he begin to talk about a redistribution of wealth, in this the
wealthiest country in the world that had such a large group of poor
people, of people living then and now, by the way, in poverty.
That problem had to be addressed. And it wasn't a black-and-white
problem. This was a problem that dealt with Hispanics, and it dealt with
poor whites as well. That is what he was taking on. That's what he was
The powers in this land believed he would not be successful. Why did
they believe that? They believed that because they knew that the
decision-making processes in the United States had by that point in
time, and today it is much worse in my view, but by that point in time
had so consolidated power that they were the representatives, the foot
soldiers, of the economic -- the very economic interests who were going
to suffer as a result of these times of changes. So the very powerful
lobbying forces that put their people in the halls of Congress and
indeed in the White House itself and controlled them, paid and bought
them and controlled them, were certainly not going to agree to the type
of social legislation that Martin King and his mass of humanity were
going to require.
So there was a fear. What happens when they are frustrated? What
happens when they don't get any satisfaction? What would happen? They
feared, the military feared, that there would be a violent rebellion in
the nation's capital. And they didn't have the troops that could contain
half a million angry poor alienated Americans. They didn't have the
troops. Westmoreland wanted another two hundred thousand in Vietnam. They didn't have them to
give to him. They didn't have them. They were afraid that mob would
overrun the capital. They were afraid that what Mr. Jefferson had urged
many, many times, that the body politic can only be cleansed by a
revolution every twenty years.
They were afraid that Mr. Jefferson would be listened to and that
that revolution would take place. Because of that, those factors, Martin
King was not going to be allowed, not going to be allowed to bring that
group of people to
So that's the reason for the hostility. He saw Memphisas part and parcel of the overall
problem, as a microcosm. He saw the plight of the garbage workers here
as being symptomatic of the pervasive sickness of American society.
So he said if we turn our backs on these ones, how can we go on
behalf of the broad national interests? These ones need us now, let's
start the Poor People's Campaign here, which is what he did.
So he came to Memphisand he was here on the 17th and 18th of March and he spoke and he
returned again on the 28th of March and the march turned nasty.
Indications are there that there were provocateurs, that it was broken
up deliberately, that he was discredited because of that, and he had to
then return. And so he did plan to come back. There was opposition
within his own organization. But he said, no, we're going to do this and
we're going to lead a peaceful march and this is the way we're going to
launch this campaign, and so he came back to Memphis. After the 28th he
came back on the 3rd of April.
Now we move to the local conspiracy that related to the death of
Martin Luther King. You've heard evidence of a very reputable
forty-year-in-business store owner sit up there and tell you that he
always bought -- every Thursday he went to Frank Liberto's warehouse,
that was his last stop before he went back to Somerville, and on that
Thursday, April 4, he heard the owner of that place take the telephone
and scream into it, "Shoot the son-of-a-bitch when he comes on the
balcony," amongst other things. That is the first indication of the
involvement of a Mr. Frank Liberto, which information was given to the
police and the FBI and forgotten about.
Then you've heard two other independent witnesses testify at
different ends of the trial, one called as a witness by the defense,
Mrs. Lavada Addison, who had this conversation with Mr. Liberto in her
cafe when Liberto leaned over the table at a time when the Select
Committee hearings were on, apparently something came on the television,
and whispered to Mrs. Addison, "I arranged have Martin Luther King
She jumped back and was shocked by this. So. Liberto puts himself in
it against his own interest, mind you. He has said that. You are
entitled to believe that. Then comes Mrs. Lavada Addison's son Nathan,
who confronts Liberto, and Liberto again confirms the same thing to him.
So we see now Mr. Frank Liberto's involvement in this whole scenario.
Then we have from the defendant himself in sessions that are before
you and you've heard testimony from Ambassador Young and Mr. King about
how he was approached and he was asked to assist or become involved in
this assassination again by Mr. Liberto and how he was told that he
would be visited by a man called Raoul, he would first receive some
money, be visited by a man called Raoul, he would pass the money to
Raoul, he would receive a gun, that he was be asked to participate in
this endeavor and he should not worry because there would be no police
around, the police would not be there.
We've heard him say that in fact he did these things and that he
received the gun after the shooting. He said he received the gun right
at his back door. That's as far as he went in his admissions. Of course,
he also said he didn't know what was going on. Neither Ambassador Young
nor Mr. King believed him in that respect, that he didn't know what was
Now, why would anyone say this? Is this something new? No. You heard
testimony from witnesses who indicated that Mr. Jowers had said this to
them years ago, as much as twenty years ago he had said this, he had
said that he knew how Martin Luther King was killed. He had indicated to
them that he didn't do it but he knew how it was done, and in one case
he actually told the same story way back then that he is telling now. So
this is not some afterthought from Mr. Jowers to try to make a movie or
become -- have notoriety or something like that. This is a consistent
story that has been around for a long time, and other witnesses from
previous times have confirmed it.
So other indications of the local conspiracy, what are they? You've
heard about the removal of Detective Redditt, who was a police officer
on surveillance duty on the afternoon. He was removed within an hour of
the killing and told there was a threat on his life and he was sent home
to arrive at his home at the time of the assassination, never to hear
about this threat again. This was a phony threat. I think it became
quite clear. They didn't trust him because when been a community
relations officer that had been secunded into intelligence and at the
last minute had to pull him off, he might have seen something, done
something that was untrustworthy. He was pulled off. The other officer
remained making notes of what he saw.
There were two black firemen, the only two black firemen in the fire
station, they were removed. They were given orders the night before not
to report for duty but to go to another fire station in each case where
they were surplussed to requirements.
Why were they removed? Why were those two black firemen removed, the
only two black firemen, and the night before? You heard the Jerry
Williams, Captain Williams, testified that he had always formed an elite
black homicide group of detectives as a bodyguard for Dr. King. The last
visit, he was not asked to form that bodyguard. This was the only time
he was not asked to form that bodyguard, and he didn't know why he was
not asked to form that bodyguard. And that troubled him. You heard that
the police were at one point around the Lorraine Motel and then they
were removed, or they just disappeared. They disappeared within a half
hour, forty-five minutes of the killing. Why did they disappear? Where
did they go? You saw evidence that the Invaders, a local
community-organizing group that had been willing to work with Dr. King
toward the end and were there for the purpose of helping him produce a
produce a peaceful march, at ten minutes to six, eleven minutes before
the actual shooting, they left the motel. They were ordered to leave the
motel. They were told their bills were no longer going to be paid and
they had to leave the hotel. So they emptied out. They might have
reacted violently and caused some sort of conflagration at the hotel,
but they didn't. They just left.
You heard about the removal of the emergency tact forces. This is the
emergency tact forces, in this case it was Tact 10, which was usually a
group of four or five police cars with officers from the sheriff's
department, police officers. They were around the Lorraine Motel until
the afternoon before the killing. The afternoon of the 3rd they were
ordered to be pulled back to the fire station on the periphery. When
Inspector Evans was asked who gave him the instructions to pull them
back, he said it was a request from Dr. King's group. But when he was
asked who, you may recall, he said, oh, yes, I think it was Reverend
Kyles that gave me that instruction. But the tact forces were pulled
The defendant on the day of the killing ordered a witness whom you
heard who was working at a waitress for him, ordered Bobbie Balfour not
to take any food upstairs to Grace Stephens, who was ill, and who had
been received food on a daily basis, but that day, because the second
floor of the rooming house was being used as a staging ground, no one
was allowed up there, and he told her not to go up there. So she didn't
go. So she didn't go.
Then you heard Olivia Catling, who had never been spoken to by
anyone, Olivia Catling took the stand and told about a man coming from
an alley that was connected to a building that was attached to the
rooming house. She saw this man coming through that alley shortly after
the killing, some minutes after the killing, and getting into a 1965
Green Chevrolet that was parked on Huling and then speeding away Norton
Mulberry Street right in front of the police burning, rubber as he went,
with no interference whatsoever from them.
All of these things, all of these events, I submit to you profoundly
are strong evidence of the existence of a conspiracy just at the local
level, not even mentioning the fact that the defendant has also
indicated that planning sessions took place in his grill prior to the
So I think it is important to see that total picture of evidence you
have. There should be no doubt that all of these things are indicative
overwhelmingly of conspiracy. Now, are we conspiracy buffs because we
find all of this evidence insurmountable? I think not. But you have
heard it. The masses of Americans have not. And the media has never put
it to them and I submit to you probably never will. That's why your
presence is so important.
The crime scene, what about this crime scene? We submit that the
crime scene, of course, was the back area of the rooming house. It was
terribly overgrown with bushes. The bushes were thick and they were
difficult to penetrate and that they provided an excellent sniper's
lair. That's where the crime took place.
Any number of witnesses and evidence in the record indicates that a
person or persons was seen in those bushes at the time of the shooting.
These are different accounts that we put into the record, separate and
There is other evidence, again, separate independent evidence, that a
person was seen jumping from the wall, jumping over the wall and running
up Mulberry Street . As
a result of this, we've concluded some while ago and have tried to
provide enough impetus for you to conclude that the shot came from these
bushes and not from the bathroom window.
The bathroom window and the rooming house bathroom has been
officially the scene of this crime forever. The State had evidence long
ago that that was not the case, that the dent in the window sill was not
made by the rifle, even though they maintained that was the case. The
bathroom was seen open.
The State's main witness was drunk at the time. He was intoxicated.
He couldn't identify anybody. Captain Tommy Stephens said he couldn't
identify anyone, much less stand up. Yet it was the affidavit of Charles
Stephens that brought James Earl Ray back to this country back from England. That
was the basis of the proof that brought him back.
Do you know what confidence the State had in their own chief witness?
They didn't even call him at the time of the guilty plea hearing. He
didn't even testify at that point. Now, the murder weapon itself, Judge
Joe Brown heard testimony and evidence in this case for about four
years. He paid particular attention to the weapon, and he has had a
lifetime of experience and developed knowledge about weapons and about
rifles in particular. We qualified the judge as an expert. He came
before you and he sat there.
Anyone who heard Judge Brown's testimony with respect to that weapon
should have no -- and weapons in general should have no doubt whatsoever
that he is in fact an expert. The media will point to his lack of
technical training, courses having been taken with respect to learning
about rifles. The other areas for developing expertise happens to be
experience and self knowledge and development, which is what Judge Brown
Judge Brown sat in that chair and gave you sample technical
scientific reasons why that weapon in evidence is not the murder weapon
very clearly. He said, first of all, the scope was never sighted in.
Because it was never sighted in, if you use that scope, to quote him,
you couldn't hit the broadside of a barn with that weapon, remember that
expression, because it was firing to the left and below the target,
because it was never sighted in.
He also said the scope couldn't have been altered by having been
dropped in a bundle. You can't alter a scope to that extent, its
accuracy, by doing that.
He said also that the death slug did not have the same metallurgical
composition as existed in the lead of the other evidence bullets that
were found in that bundle the State has always said it was one of a
number of bullets the defendant had and you should see them as a
package, if you will. Judge Brown said, no, the death slug was different
in metallurgical composition than the bullets that were there.
Beyond this, there is evidence that you've heard that this clearly
couldn't have been the murder weapon because the defendant told a taxi
driver, James McCraw, to get rid of the murder weapon, and he did so.
McCraw, being a close friend of Jowers, a confident of Jowers, took the
actual murder weapon and threw it off the Memphis-ArkansasBridge. So it is laying at the bottom of
the Mississippi River for over
thirty-one years. The real murder weapon is at the bottom of that river.
Now, Bill Hamblin, no reason to lie, he said McCraw would only tell
him this when he got drunk and he told him this over fifteen years. This
is not something McCraw made up one day. It is over a period of fifteen
years. I remind you that he told this same story.
Judge Arthur Haynes testified that he was, of course, James Earl
Ray's first lawyer along with his father, and he testified that in the
course of their early on-the-scene investigation, they talked to Guy
Canipe, who owned the amusement shop in front of which was found the
bundle which contained, amongst other things, the rifle. He said Canipe
told them very early on, before anyone else apparently had done any kind
of tampering with him, told him very early on that that bundle was
dropped some minutes before the actual shooting. Imagine that, that the
bundle, the murder weapon, the rifle in evidence, was dropped minutes
before the actual shooting.
Now we come to Raoul, this shadowy figure who the defendant has
mentioned and who James Earl Ray has talked about right from the
beginning as someone who controlled him. You have a number of
independent people, not even knowing each other, who have identified
this man from a spread of photographs that they have seen. And they
range from an English merchant seaman, who we had to depose by telephone
at some length, who ran into this same Raoul at the same bar James did,
up at the Neptune in Montreal.
They range from him to the Grabows, Royce Wilburn, to the defendant
himself who identified Raoul from a spread of photographs before
Ambassador Young and Mr. King, and, of course, James Earl Ray, who also
If that is not enough, if that is not enough, we have the British
film producer, Jack Saltman, going to the door of Raoul's house, showing
a photograph and having his daughter admit that that is the photograph
of her father, her words to the effect that anyone can get that picture
or that photograph of my father. It is from Immigration &
Naturalization. She identified her own father as the person in that
Under subpoena and reluctantly a Portuguese journalist took the
stand. She had conducted an interview with a member of the family. The
member of that family had told her that this was a horror, a nightmare
for them and for the family, but the one comfort they had was that the
government was helping them, that the government had sent people to
their home approximately three times or so, and that the government was
monitoring their telephone calls and the government was providing them
with guidance. The government was trying to give them comfort and
Can you imagine if anything like that happened to -- if any charges
were laid against any of us in those circumstances, do you think the
government would come around and see us, help us, monitor our phones?
That act alone indicates the importance and the significance of this
man, Raoul. So it is essential that that be put clearly in the context.
Now, as I understand it, the defense had invited Raoul to appear
here. He is outside this jurisdiction, so a subpoena would be futile.
But he was asked to appear here. In earlier proceedings there were
attempts to depose him, and he resisted them. So he has not attempted to
come forward at all and tell his side of this story or to defend
As we move into the next area, we're concerned now about a broader
conspiracy, a broader conspiracy. That is two-pronged, ladies and
gentlemen. On the one hand, the broader conspiracy goes beyond a shooter
in the bushes who gets away with killing Martin King. It goes from him
to a Mr. Jowers, who is involved in facilitating, and it goes back to
Mr. Liberto, whom you've heard was clearly a part of it, but it goes
beyond Mr. Liberto in terms of the Mob side, because you've heard from
witness Nathan Whitlock how he used to push a fruit cart in New Orleans
with Mr. Carlos Marcello and that he then has this relationship and this
awareness of Marcello and Marcello activities. Carlos Marcello has been
the Mob kingpin, was the Mob leader in this part of the country, for a
long, long time.
So any contract, any Mob contract, on Martin Luther King's life,
would come from Marcello through Liberto into the local infrastructure
that Marcello had here in
Memphis. Marcello himself was involved in gun running. Part of the evidence
in terms of the military involvement is contained in a lengthy article
that we put into evidence that appears in March of 1993 in the
Commercial Appeal by Steve Tomkins, and that article indicated that
there was a high-ranking general who had been charged and imprisoned for
aiding and abetting the trading in stolen weapons. That deal meant what
he was involved in was the theft of guns from arsenals, armories and
camps, like Camp Shelby in Mississippi, the theft of weapons from those
places that went to -- were trucked to a Marcello property in New
Orleans, and from the Marcello property in New Orleans were shipped
around the coast into Houston, Texas, where they were taken off. And
that is where Raoul and his crowd came into the receipt of those weapons
before they went into Latin and South America
So that's one prong of the broader conspiracy, the Mob. But, you see,
already there is a relationship between organized crime and the military
in the receipt of those weapons and in the ongoing sale of them.
Then we move directly into the government of the United States,
their agents themselves. We've learned that the 111th Military
Intelligence Group based at FortMcPherson in Atlanta , Georgia, were here.
They were in Memphis. They had Martin King under surveillance. That as open -- quote,
open surveillance, eye-to-eye surveillance.
They had him under surveillance. Eli Arkin of the Memphis Police
Department Intelligence Bureau, Intelligence Division, said they were in
his office. He has he has admitted they were in his office.
They were here.
There was another section here that was involved in covert
surveillance of Martin King. "Covert" means bugging, wiretapping, that
type of activity. That was done at the Rivermont when he was here on the
17th or 18th. You heard a witness say he was one of three people who
were effectively a surveillance team. They had Martin King's suite
bugged, every room of it bugged, including the balcony. If he wanted to
speak privately and went out on the balcony, they would pick it up by
relay from the roof.
That covert -- that type of covert surveillance was carried out by
another agency, usually the Army Security Agency. So there we have those
two agencies involved very clearly here.
Then there were photographers. Remember those photographers that
Captain Weiden talked about. They were on the roof of the fire station.
He put them there. Who were they? They were a psychological operations
team, and they were there and they photographed everything throughout
that day. That means, ladies and gentlemen, that there is a film of
everything that happened, photographs of everything that happened buried
somewhere. We tried long and hard to unearth it unsuccessfully, but it
is there and it is hidden, as it was hidden from this jury it is hidden
from the American people. Maybe the media one day will let you know that
it exists. But it is there. They took those photographs. They were what
is known as a psychological operations team, and they were there and
they photographed everything throughout that day. That means, ladies and
gentlemen, that there is a film of everything that happened, photographs
of everything that happened buried somewhere. We tried long and hard to
unearth it unsuccessfully, but it is there and it is hidden, as it was
hidden from this jury it is hidden from the American people. Maybe the
media one day will let you know that it exists. But it is there. They
took those photographs. They were what is known as a psychological
operations team, and we know who the two members of that team were.
So there is this very strong presence now, which is primarily
surveillance, it is intelligence gathering, it is visual and it is audio
and it is going on and Martin King and his group are the subject of it.
But then there is another group that is more sinister. They are not
more sinister because of what they did, because they didn't really do
anything, but we know they had a presence. And that was a special
eight-man sniper unit that was here in
Memphis. They were all part of the 20th Special Forces Group. They were here
and they were assigned and they were trained for an operation, for a
heard testimony by a man who himself was a national security council
operative who was very involved in Iran-Contra activities, who had been
a long-standing operative, if you will, of the government of the United
States and whose best friend was a member of that sniper team. There was
no reason in the world for his best friend other than in a moment of
whatever, anguish or burden, desire to relieve himself, to talk about
this, this mission that he was on which he was assigned to in Memphis
which was aborted, but he was assigned to it.
With a Q and A approach you heard documents of working papers that
were used to get information from other -- from another source who lives
south of the border and who fled the country in the 1970's out of fear
who was also a part of that unit. So they were there, and there are
three separate sources that confirm the presence. But they did not -- it
was not necessary for them to do anything. The mission was aborted
because the Mob contract was successful in killing Martin Luther King
and framing James Earl Ray.
Remember, one of the things that Liberto also told the defendant,
Loyd Jowers, was that there was a setup man, there was a patsy, lined up
to take the blame. There was another area of comfort that the defendant
Now we move to the cover-up aspect of this case. This in many ways is
the most sad in a representative democracy to have to have this kind of
cover-up be successful for so long. It is a shame. It is a tragedy. I
think it goes right to the essence of democracy and the right of the
people to know.
The cover-up activities in this case, ladies and gentlemen, range
from murder to press manipulation and distortion, with bribery in
between. Murder, unfortunately in our view, and from the evidence that
you have heard here, credible sources, is that a taxi driver who pulled
into the Lorraine Motel maybe six minutes before the killing or so,
shortly before the killing, a Yellow Cab taxi driver who pulled into
that drive and who was standing at the rear of his car loading the trunk
of the car with the baggage, the luggage, of someone that was leaving,
unfortunately for him, immediately after the shooting he saw the
shooting and then turned to look at the other side of the road and saw a
man come down out of the bushes and run up the street and get into a
waiting Memphis Police Department traffic car which sped away.
When he reported this to his dispatcher, he thought the police had
the assassin because he was in a police car going away. Well, this man,
as you've heard, was questioned by the police a couple of times that
week. He was to give a statement the next day.
He didn't give a statement, did he? No, his body was found off the Memphis-ArkansasBridgesupposedly thrown
out of a speeding car. Now, when we tried to find death certificates for
this man, we couldn't, either in Arkansas
There is no death record at all. We found his phone number with that of
his wife listed in 1967, 1966 and 1967, Betty and Paul Butler. This is
all in evidence. The Polk Directory pages are there for you to look at.
In 1968 it is Betty, brackets, widow, WID, of Paul, Betty widow, 1968
and 1969 she a widow. Paul Butler was her deceased husband. He was, for
him, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
That is in some ways the worst of it. Because is there anything
really worse than losing your life when you've been in the wrong place
at the wrong time?
The next aspect of cover-up is the tampering, drastic alteration, of
the crime scene. What happened there? You've heard what happened. Seven
o'clock in the morning Inspector Sam Evans called Maynard Stiles, who
was a public works administrator, and asked him to get a work crew out
there and to cut down those bushes. They cut the bushes down. Now,
normally what one does with a crime scene, at least for quite a period
of time, is to rope it off and keep people out of it and investigate it
as it is. You don't go and destroy the crime scene. You don't know what
is there. You go and you deal with it the way it was at the time of the
No, it was cut right to the ground, cut right to the ground. And
however long it took them to do it, they did a good job, because it was
not possible for a sniper to be in that area once it was cut to the
ground because he could obviously be very visible.
So the image of a flat, barren area is what was relayed, and that
reinforced the whole bathroom window. There was no house-to-house
investigation, ladies and gentlemen. Do you remember Judge Brown on the
stand saying that this was the most deficient investigation, criminal
investigation, he had ever seen as a criminal court judge? He is talking
about all of these kinds of things. Imagine, no house-to-house
What that means is that no policeman going and knocking on the door
of all of the local residents and asking them did they see anything, did
they hear anything, because surely if they had, they would have knocked
on Olivia Catling's door, wouldn't they? She just lived down the street
on Mulberry. She would have told them what she saw. But they didn't.
They didn't do that, did they? No, they didn't do that, not at all. Why?
Why did they suppress two alibi statements, a statement from Ray
Hendricks and William Reed, who left Jim's Grill, oh, thirty-five
minutes past the hour of five, forty minutes past the hour of five,
right around there, maybe even -- well, right around that time. It would
be difficult to pin exact times down.
They left Jim's Grill, saw James Earl Ray's Mustang parked in front
of Jim's Grill, started to work walk up the street and a couple of
minutes later when they went up a couple of blocks and were about to
cross Vance, one pulled the other back when the same white Mustang they
thought came right around the corner driving away, as James Earl Ray had
said he done.
He always said he left the scene of the crime around to that time to
try to go have a spare tire repaired. Here are two alibi witnesses with
statements given to the FBI in their 302's kept from the defense,
withheld from the guilty plea jury, suppressed.
What else was suppressed? What was suppressed was the fact that they
had a scientific report from the FBI that the dent in the window sill
could not sufficiently be tied to the rifle. They had that. They had
that almost a year prior to the actual guilty plea hearing. And yet they
went before the guilty plea jury and said that scientific evidence would
establish that the murder weapon made that dent. Obstruction of justice,
suppression? That and worse.
What about the death slug that could not be matched? You know, the
media and the State have turned the burden in this case of matching the
bullet to the rifle the other way around. They are saying because you
can't exclude it, it may be the murder weapon. That's not the way it
works. In any other case that's not the way it works.
This is not a good rifle in evidence when you cannot match the death
slug to it. And it was a death slug capable of being matched. You have
evidence that that bullet was capable of being matched if it could.
There were enough striations, enough independent markings that they
could match it if they could.
So the guilty plea hearing guilty plea hearing heard none of this. I
talked to members of the guilty plea jury years later.
They heard none of this. This was all kept quiet. They certainly
would have had questions about Mr. Ray's plea if they had.
They certainly didn't know that his lawyer had agreed in writing to
pay $500 if he would plead guilty and not cause any problems and that
$500 could be used to hire another lawyer who could help overturn the
plea. They certainly were not told that.
They certainly were not told those kinds of pressures that descended
on him at the last minute to cop this plea, which I'm afraid people do
all the time in desperation, particularly when they are in isolation the
way he was.
What about Captain Weiden? My goodness. Captain of the fire station,
never interviewed by local police authorities. The man who ran that
installation, who was there at the time, never interviewed by the
authorities. Forgetting about knocking on people's doors. Here is
official, he is a senior executive officer of the fire station. They
didn't talk to him. They didn't interview him. They didn't ask him what
was going on there that afternoon. Were they afraid that he would have
told them about the photographers on the roof? Because if he had, then
they wouldn't have been unnoticed, would they? It wouldn't have been
unnoticed that there were photographs of what went on, and they would
have then had to request those photographs. So if you don't talk to
Captain Weiden, you don't have to know about them. If you don't know
about it, you don't ask for it.
You heard Bill Schaap on the stand for a long time talking about
media distortion and the use of media for propaganda. He gave you the
history of how it has developed particularly over the 20th century Americabut, of
course, it is a long-standing activity throughout history in older
nations than this.
But Schaap took you painstakingly through that history down to the
present time when he dealt with the way the media handled Martin Luther
King, how they handled his opposition to the war in Vietnam, how he was
attacked because of that opposition to the war.
Then he moved on. There were similar, comparable attacks on the King
family since they decided they wanted the truth out in this case and
they decided that James Earl Ray was entitled to a trial, similar media
treatment happened to them that happened to Martin, similar loss of
contributions and money for the work that happened to Martin back in
those days. The same thing.
Bill Schaap led you through that. There were a couple of instances
where he referred to the huge network of ownership and control of media
entities all over the world by the Central Intelligence Agency. It is a
matter of public record. It has appeared in Congressional hearings,
Senate hearings, which most people don't read, don't know anything
about, and, of course, the media only covers in sparse fashion, because
it is contrary to their interests to show that great numbers of
newspapers, radio stations, television stations, may in fact be actually
owned by the Central Intelligence Ageny in this country as well as
He talked about the numbers of actual agents who work for media
companies, who are placed in positions in network television company
positions, in newspaper company positions, on newspaper editorial board
If you see the history of how national security cases are covered and
this is one, you will be amazed that some of the most liberal
columnists, writers, respected journalists, Pulitzer Prize winners, who
have all the liberal credentials, when it comes to this kind of case,
they all of a sudden are totally with the government because national
security cases are a different ball game.
Ambassador Young ran into one at one point in an airport, and he said
to him, how can you do this, Tony, about this case, you have great
credentials in every other way, what is it about this case? His response
was, you'll be happy to know my wife agrees with you. But that was it.
That was the end of the response.
The point is on these cases there is a special type of treatment that
is given. It is important to understand that across the board. That
explains a lot of what we're talking about. Examples: Column 1, New York
Times, November, the article is here, Alton, Illinois, bank robbery,
Wendell Rose, Jr., the Times wrote this whole piece, fabricated, whole
cloth, that the Ray brothers robbed the bank in Illinois and that's
where James got his money and therefore there is no Raoul.
The problem was that the article said that the Times had conducted a
special investigation that paralleled that of the House Select Committee
and that of the FBI, and all three investigations indicated this was the
case. Case closed, this is where Ray got his money.
The problem is they never talked to the chief of police in Alton , Illinois. They never talked to the president
of the bank in Alton
Illinois. There was no
investigation. And when those people were talked to by myself or by
Jerry Ray, who went down there to turn himself in -- you think I did
this, I'm prepared to turn myself in -- the guy said, go away, you've
never been a suspect. Isn't that amazing, out of whole cloth. But it
appears, and that's the mindset that the people have.
You heard Earl Caldwell say he was sent to Memphis by his national editor, New York Times national
editor, Claude Sitton at the time, and told to go to Memphisand his words were
"nail Dr. King." Nail Dr. King. That is what he said he was told was his
mission here in Memphisas a New York Times reporter. I can go on. But these are examples of
what happens with the media.
Now, Bill Schaap told you the impact of that out of thirty-one years
is very devastating, is very hard to hear this for thirty-one years and
have somebody come along and say, no, you've been told the wrong thing
and here are a whole set of facts that are incontrovertible and this is
why you've been old the wrong thing.
The reaction is still, oh, yes, that's interesting, but the next day
we still believe, because it is almost implanted neurologically. That's
the problem that this kind of distortion, media propaganda abuse, just
Mr. Jowers here, the defendant, was a victim of that. They gave him
-- ABC gave him a lie detector test and they told him at the end of that
lie detector test that he had failed, why was he doing this, was he
looking for money, he had failed this lie detector test. You heard from
a cab driver, who has nothing to gain by this, take the stand and say,
yeah, he drove those ABC people to the airport, took them to the
airport, and he heard their conversation. His ears perked up when he
heard Jowers' name because he heard them, the guy in the front, the
examiner, said, I couldn't get him to waver, I couldn't get him to
waver. They were commenting on how much he remembered in so much detail
and why he remembered so much detail.
There is no question about him failing this test. They couldn't get
the defendant to lie. And yet that program was broadcast, was put out to
masses of people in this country to believe to this day that the
defendant lied, that he lied.
Now, you heard -- we're still on cover-up. I'm sorry. You heard about
two efforts to bribe James Earl Ray. I don't know of any others, but you
have heard of two in particular, one from a lawyer, Jack Kershaw, who
told you about a meeting at the Nelson Book Publishing Company and he
was offered a sum of money if Ray would admit that he did it. He was
offered this money by William Bradford Huey, who was a writer, if Ray
would confess that he did it and did it alone and he would give him this
money and give him a pardon and he would go on and have a nice life.
Mr. Kershaw went over to the prison, as you heard, asked Mr. Ray if
you want to take up this wonderful offer. Ray, of course, said, no, and
sent him packing. Some while later a telephone -- on a telephone
conversation Huey made the same offer to Jerry Ray. His problem then was
that that conversation was recorded. Jerry Ray testified and you have a
transcript of that recording, he was offered now $220,000, they greatly
increased the sum of money, $220,000, also a pardon. And the best story,
of course, that they wanted, that Huey wanted, was the story why I
killed Martin Luther King.
So they were offering him money, a pardon if he would tell that
story. It didn't work. James, of course, was not interested in anything
of the sort. James had always only wanted, from three days after his
conviction, he had always wanted a trial. That is what he wanted. Then
there were a number of attempts to kill James Earl Ray. These attempts
vary. One time he escaped from
BrushyMountain in 1977, he escaped from BrushyMountainwith six others. No sooner did
his feet hit the ground and they were up in the woods there -- if you
know that area of Petros, Tennessee, it is pretty rural in some areas
and rocky and hilly -- he was up in the woods, and no sooner did he go
get up in the woods but there was an FBI SWAT team out of the Knoxville
office on the scene.
Who asked for them? It is a State escape, State prisoner. The State
is handling it. No, here comes in the SWAT team. They have snipers with
sniper rifles. What are they going to do with those sniper rifles?
Lewis Stokes was chairman of the Select Committee on Assassinations.
He calls Ray Blanton, who is a governor of the State at the time.
Reverend Fauntroy was a part of to that conversation and said he was the
one who encouraged Stokes to call, but he was there. Stokes calls
Blanton and says that you better get over to
BrushyMountain. If you don't,
I'm going to lose my most famous witness and your most famous prisoner
because the FBI is going to kill him. Blanton goes over in a helicopter
and chases the FBI away.
They didn't what to go at first. He told them he would put them in
the same sell James Earl Ray came out of if they didn't. He saved James
Earl Ray's life. He was caught and brought back by local authorities,
which is the way it should have been.
The second attempt was in April of 1978. You heard April Ferguson,
public defender counsel, tell you how that worked. She went out,
interviewed a prisoner who had called their office when April and Mark Lane were representing James back at
that time. He was offered a contract. He was asked to put out a contract
on James Earl Ray, and he decided not to do it.
One, he thought he was being set up because the person who called him
left a number and he had to call him back. When he called had him back,
he was calling him back at an Executive Suites hotel that he knew, the
prisoner knew, was being used by the local US Attorney's Office and the
FBI where they interviewed informants and where they did the briefings.
That's where the phone call came from.
He thought he was being set up. The phone call came to him from a
fellow called Arthur Wayne Baldwin, who was a Mob figure in Memphisbut who also was
involved as a federal informant and was used by the government.
So he gave the statement of how this contract was put out by Baldwin on James Earl Ray's life, and Ms. Ferguson
testified as to her affidavit. Defendant's prior admissions, the next
section of plaintiffs' case, you've heard a good deal of it, how the
defendant has admitted how he was approached by Mr. Liberto and how he
was told that he would receive a package, which he did, and money and
eventually a rifle to hold, and he told about planning sessions in his
cafe, and he told about taking a rifle from the shooter, taking the
rifle from the shooter, one that was still smoking. He said taking it
from his back door.
He named the shooter as a Memphis Police Department lieutenant, Earl
Clark, who is deceased, who was a sharpshooter who he said was a hunting
companion of his, a friend of his, and a friend of Liberto's as well and
who never had any contact with him again after this day.
Now, Mrs. Clark, the first wife, who testified, gave her husband an
alibi. It is only fair that you consider what Ms. Clark said. When I
first interviewed here in 1992 -- she referred to that interview. In
fact, her son was there. He was not twenty-two. He was born later. He
was about sixteen. Her daughter was born in 1970. It was the son who was
present. She told essentially the same story at that point in time.
There are serious questions with that story, and they have to do with
whether or not in fact Lieutenant Clark had a radio at all at that point
in time and whether or not in fact Dent Cleaners was open later than six
p.m. on that day. Because by her accounts she got there sometime between
six-thirty and six-forty to pick up his uniform. But, in any event, you
have to consider all of that.
Lastly, in respect of the defendant's situation, we had placed a
woman -- aspects of a woman's testimony into the record so that you can
review it, and she was a waitress who had been a lover of the defendant
during that previous year.
She very reluctantly in 1992 gave a statement that had really to be
worked out of her. She didn't want to tell this story even then because
she was afraid that her former lover and boss, Mr. Jowers, was the
He was the only one she saw, she said, out there, and she was afraid
that he was the killer. Plaintiffs do not believe that to be the case at
this point in time.
She described him running, face white as a sheet, looking like a wild
man with all mud on his knees, as though he had been kneeling in that
brush area. She has been to some extent discredited because there have
been -- people have descended upon her for various reasons. She was a --
a statement of hers was taken repudiating a lot of things she said, but
she subsequently said in another sworn statement that she didn't even
read what the state officials told her to sign.
So in a case like this, this is a difficult area for you to assess
for yourselves in terms of what you read and what you have heard here.
The last area of the plaintiffs' case has to do with damages. We've
addressed that. Members of the family have addressed that in terms of
the spirit in which the family has approached these proceedings from the
Yes, we want a verdict of liability, a verdict of a finding of
conspiracy, but the family is not interested to benefit financially from
these proceedings. There has to be damages in civil litigation of this
sort. It is a wrongful death action. So the request is that there be an
award of one hundred dollars to offset funeral expenses at the time. And
that one hundred dollars the family has decided to contribute, along
with other contributions, to a welfare fund of the sanitation workers in
this city, because that is the reason that Dr. King came here in the
Now, what I'd like to do is to briefly take you through a visual
summary, it will be much quicker than my verbal summary, but to take you
through a visual picture of the summary of what you have just heard in
terms of the major aspects of the plaintiffs' case.
24 THE COURT: Does anybody need a break?
A JUROR: Yes.
THE COURT: You do? All right. Just five minutes.
THE COURT: All right, Sheriff. Bring the jury back
THE COURT: All right,
Mr. Pepper. You may resume.
MR. PEPPER: Thank you, Your Honor. We have a
depiction of the overall seen of the assassination at about five
forty-three, the time we've pinpointed, on the afternoon of the
assassination. Here in this depiction we have two people on the
firehouse roof, we show two people in the brush area at this time, a
number of witnesses down below the balcony right in there.
THE COURT: Mr. Pepper, excuse me. Can you see that?
A JUROR: Yes.
MR. PEPPER: Am I in your way?
THE COURT: You may stand over here, Mr. Pepper.
MR. PEPPER: There is also a car, a Chevrolet car,
parked here on Huling, and two Mustangs on South Main Street . You will remember
Charles Hurley testified that he drove up behind this Mustang when he
was picking his wife up. It had Arkansasplates. This Mustang is believed to
have been James Earl Ray's.
Now, when we move ahead, we're still at five forty-three, but it is
between five forty-three and five forty-four, Hendricks and Reed, who
have been in Jim's Grill here, have come out and have since walked up
this street. About this time this first Mustang has pulled off.
Everything else remains the same. You have the photographers on the
roof, you have the two figures in the brush, who we believe to be Earl
Clark and Loyd Jowers, and you have witnesses below the balcony over
Now we're at five-fifty. The evidence reveals that this first Mustang
is gone. The second Mustang still remains. Photographers still remain
clicking away on the roof. The figures in the brush still remain. The
Invaders have started to leave the hotel. They are coming down the
stairs and they are leaving at five-fifty. They were noticed leaving.
Billy Kyles, Reverend Kyles, is right there knocking on Martin King's
door as the evidence indicates at ten minutes to six. The witnesses are
still down below.
At five fifty-five, the Invaders are now off the premises, they've
gone. Reverend Kyles has come away from the door and is on the balcony
to the right of the door. The witnesses are still below. Photographers
are still in their perch photographing. The Chevrolet is still parked
where was. And now a Memphis Police Department traffic car has pulled up
to this intersection right here at Mulberry and Huling. In addition to
that, about this time a rifle and an evidence bundle has been dropped by
this figure right here in Canipe's.
Next. Still at five fifty-five, between five fifty-five and five
fifty-six, the Yellow taxicab has pulled into the Lorrainedriveway and is loading a passenger.
The man who has dropped the rifle has now approached this second Mustang
with the Arkansasplates here. The figures in the bushes are still there. The
Chevrolet is there and the taxi driver himself is standing toward the
rear of his car next. About five fifty-six, in that area, Martin King
appears on the balcony and begins to talk to a number of the people
below who we've been calling as witnesses. The taxi driver is still
there unloading a passenger's luggage, and the photographers are there.
The rifle remains, but now the second Mustang moves off. The traffic car
remains in position and the Chevrolet remains where was.
Okay. Six-oh-one p.m., April 4th, 22 1968, Martin Luther King has
been felled by a single shot. Everything else remains the same. The taxi
driver is facing the brush area. The photographers are still on the roof
of the fire station. The rifle in evidence remains in Canipe's doorway.
The Chevrolet remains on Huling. The
Memphistraffic car remains at the intersection of Mulberry and Huling. The
figures in the bushes at this point remain there.
Next. Instantly, between six-oh-one and six-oh-two, immediately after
the shot, one of the two figures, and we maintain it is the defendant,
is moving toward his building carrying the murder weapon. The other
figure in the bush, in the bushes, is going down -- appears to be at
this point not going down but appears to be alone around the edge of the
wall. The photographers are there. The taxi driver is still there
looking at the brush area, and journalist Earl Caldwell, having heard
the shot, has come out of his room.
It is difficult to do this with computers. You may recall Caldwellwas in his shorts
standing there looking at the bushes seeing this figure in the bushes.
The traffic car remains there. Kyles remains off to the right of the
fallen Martin King instantly after the shot. The witnesses are there,
some of whom turn toward the bushes looking up in that direction.
Next. Also between six-oh-one and six-two, because that's what it
takes, Mr. Jowers has entered his establishment. The shooter has gone
down over the wall and has run toward that Memphistraffic vehicle, car vehicle, right
there. This is all happening between six-oh-one and six-oh-two. That's
the period of time in which this was carried out.
The taxi driver has seen the shooter jump from the wall and run to
here and get into that traffic car. The photographers must have
photographed it. There they are. The rifle remains. Mr. Jowers has
entered his establishment at that point in time.
Okay. Around six-oh-five, under great pressure from his passenger,
the taxi driver actually drives away, left the Lorraineparking lot. The shooter, having
gotten into that traffic car, is also gone, disappeared. That traffic
car sped up Huling, west on Huling. It is gone. Mr. Jowers is inside his
establishment, the witnesses remain in place where they were. Mr.
Caldwell has gone back into his room to put on his trousers.
Next. We're at about six-oh-eight. At this point in time barricades
in the form of police cars have been established at either end of
Mulberry, thus blocking any entrance to the street. We're at
six-oh-seven. I'm a minute ahead of myself.
We're at about six-oh-seven. Everything else remains pretty much the
same except Journalist Caldwell has come out of his room again and would
eventually make his way up to the balcony. Dr. King is still down,
witnesses are in place, photographers are in place, the rifle remains
where it is, and Reverend Kyles is still on the balcony.
Also at six-oh-seven or thereabouts Olivia Catling has arrived at the
corner of Mulberry and Huling. She has three children with her. Two are
hers and one is a neighbor child. She has come to that corner just about
this time, having heard the shot from inside her house. Everything else
remains pretty much in place with the photographers, the witnesses and
Journalist Caldwell coming out and the rifle still at Canipe's.
Okay. About six-oh-nine we have a man appearing in the alley. This is
the first time he has appeared. He has apparently come from connected
Buildings to the rooming house and he is now seen in the alley.
Everything else remains the same. The barricades are in place. Mrs.
Catling is there.
Next. He moves between this time, within a minute, very quickly to
this car seen by Mrs. Catling and the children. Next. He gets in the car
and rips off east on Huling, making a sharp turn going north on Mulberry
right in front of this police barricade and proceeds unimpeded north on
Mulberry away from the scene.
Now, at that point in time Mrs. Catling notices a fireman who is
standing in front of the wall, and he is talking to policemen, yelling
at policemen, that the shot came from the clump of bushes up there. They
apparently are not listening to him. Those are the -- that's the visual
depiction of the critical events that we wanted to put forward.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, sometimes that is helpful to amplify the
verbal narrative. Sometimes it confuses more than it helps. But I think
we've tried to draw this and depict it as precisely as we can within the
constraints of the actual evidence that has been presented to you.
Let me close by saying to you that long after people forget what has
been said in this courtroom, all the words that you've heard from
witnesses and lawyers, and long after they have forgotten about accounts
that they have read about this case, they are going to remember what was
done here. They are going to remember what action you took, what
decision you came to.
You have got to understand the monumental importance of your
decision. You are going to -- they are going to forget everything I
said, everything defense counsel has said, everything the witnesses have
said. They are going to remember one thing, the ruling of this jury, the
verdict of this jury because you have heard evidence that has never
before been put on in a court of law.
Some of it would have been put on in Mr. Ray's trial, if he had ever
been granted a trial. He wasn't. It wasn't heard. Judge Brown was on the
verge of granting that trial, on the eve, in our view, so close to
granting that trial, and then he was removed by the Court of Appeals in
this state from the case, summarily removed. Without any argument, any
oral argument, they made that decision. So Mr. Ray never had the trial.
He was in his dying months when he might have gotten that trial. The
Court of Appeals finished that possibility.
Only you have heard this. The people in the United States of Americahave not heard this. The masses of people in this country
or the world have not heard this. They've heard snippets, they've heard
edited clips on various documentaries and programs, but no one has heard
the detailed evidence that you have here.
That is why your decision at this point in time is the most
significant decision that will have been taken in thirty-one years in
terms of this case.
Please don't underestimate the importance of it. In our view, what
has happened in this case, the injustice that has happened in this case,
and it may be symptomatic of other cases, we don't know -- we haven't
gotten into that, we've just focused on this case -- but what has
happened here in our view is representative of the failure that
symbolizes to me the failure of representative democracy in this
Isn't it amazing that one could say that over a simple murder case.
But when you look at the wealth of evidence that has come forward and
you understand how this case has been conducted and you understand how
it has been covered up, and when you see how unresponsive elected
officials and government has been and how complicit they have been, you
can come to no other choice.
Governmental agencies caused Martin Luther King to be assassinated.
They used other foot soldiers. They caused this whole thing to happen.
And they then proceeded with the powerful means at their disposal to
cover this case up. This is a conspiracy that involved -- and that's a
nasty word. People insult people in this country who use the word
"conspiracy." Nowhere else in the world, as Bill Schaap told you, is it
viewed that way. In Italy and Franceconspiracy is taken for granted because they have lived
with it so much longer. Remember that there were thirty-nine daggers
going into Cesar.
You know, these things do not happen as a rule without the
involvement of other people and in this case, this type of murder,
without the involvement of seriously prominent individuals in
government. So it is in my view a failure of democracy and this Republic
that it has not been able to bring this forward.
What we're asking you to do at this point in time is send a message.
We're asking you to send a message, not just right a wrong. That's
important, that you right a wrong and that you allow justice to prevail
once and for all. Let it prevail. Let justice and truth prevail, else
the heavens fall. No matter what, let it prevail. Let it come forward.
We're asking you to let that happen.
But in addition to that, we're asking you to send a message, send a
message to all of those in power, all of those who manipulate justice in
this country that you cannot get away with this. Or if you can get away
with it, you can only get away with it for so long. Ultimately
truth-crushed earth will rise again, and it has risen in this courtroom,
ladies and gentlemen. Send that message. You, you twelve, represent the
American people. You are their representatives with respect to justice
in this case. They cannot be here. The media will keep the truth from
them forever. You represent the people of this land. You must speak for
In all of my years I've had confidence in one institution anywhere in
the Anglo-American world, and it is a jury. It is twelve people
independently hearing evidence and ruling. That's you. You have this
duty to yourselves, this obligation to your fellow citizens, and you
have an opportunity to act in a most significant way that perhaps you
can ever imagine, because your verdict of conspiracy in this case, your
verdict of liability for the defendant and his other co-conspirators,
means history is rewritten, means textbooks have to be rewritten, means
the actual result of this case and the truth of this case now must come
This message also will be sent to the Attorney General of the United States, whose team are investigating in a limited way, they say, this
case. But you have heard much more, so that is why this message is so
important. Please send it.
On behalf of the family of Martin Luther King, Jr., on behalf of the
people of the United States, I ask you to find for the plaintiff and
find that conspiracy existed and that those conspirators involved not
only the defendant here but we're dealing in conspiracy with agents of
the City of Memphis and the governments of the State of Tennessee and
the United States of America.
We ask you to find that conspiracy existed and once and for all give
this plaintiff family justice and let's cleanse this city and this
nation of the ignorance that has pervaded this case for so long. Let the
truth reign in this courtroom once and for all.
Thank you very much.
THE COURT: Mr. Garrison.
MR. GARRISON: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I
promise you one thing, I won't take that long. Let me say this first of
all: I've been practicing law here starting forty years this past
August, and I think this is the most important case to me that I've ever
been associated with.
I've tried cases in this courtroom and all over this courthouse, and
I think this case is the most important case I've ever been associated
with. I say that because it is important to the King family, it is
important to the American way of life, important to quality and
important to history now.
Over the past few years I've met with Ms. Coretta King and Mr. Dexter
King and the family, and they are a very lovable family. They have gone
through more than any family should have to go through and simply
because of the color of their skin, because Dr. King simply was seeking
equality and equal rights. And if our constitution means anything, it
means that is for everybody.
Now, Dr. Pepper has pursued this case for years. He is like a bulldog
on your trousers. You just can't shake him loose, you can't shake him
off. If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be here today. He and I have many
areas of agreement, but we have many areas of disagreement. I want to
put those out you to now.
First of all, let me say this: I told you at the beginning that
anything that Mr. Jowers had to do with this was very, very minute and
small. I think the proof fairly shows that. Here is a man who had a
greasy-spoon restaurant, a beer joint, to put it bluntly, that was there
in a place where he had been dealing with a Mr. Liberto, and perhaps
those things weren't the way they should be, but he is not on trial for
that. He simply said that I had handled money for Mr. Liberto previously
and that here again he asked me to handle some money. He said he was
going to send a box to him. I didn't know what it was. He said that the
money came in and the box came in and that he said someone would pick up
the box and you be at the back door at six 4 o'clock and something would
be handed to you. He says I didn't know anything.
Now, he met with Mr. Dexter King and Ambassador Young freely and
voluntarily at his own expense, his own time. He told them what limited
information he had about this. He was very honest with them and very
sincere in telling them what he knew about this case, which was very
He told Dexter King, which Mr. King admitted here, that he said I
didn't know anything about this as far as it being Dr. King that would
be the target of assassination, I had no knowledge of that. He said I
apologize to you for anything that I may have done that would cause the
death of your father, but I had no idea, no knowledge, it was just
simply something I was doing and had been doing previously, it wasn't
any different from the other things.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, it is ironic to note here that there is
only one person that has placed any blame on Mr. Jowers as far as being
there doing anything. That's Ms. Spates. You've heard her testimony.
You've heard an affidavit read to you that she gave to the prosecutors
of the city of Memphis, their
investigators. She first tried to say that Mr. Jowers was there and she
saw him and all this thing about him being white and so forth and so on,
but she came back and in an exhibit here that you have a right to see
said I wasn't even there, I was at work that day, I didn't see anything,
because I didn't see Mr. Jowers with a gun, I never saw anything, I was
at work that day.
Which version do you believe? This is a sworn statement, a sworn
statement under oath she gave to the prosecutors. It is saying I wasn't
even there. So which version do you I believe of Ms. Spates?
She first tried to say she had been offered some money by Mr. Jowers
and even by me. Yet the first thing I asked her in her testimony is -- I
had never seen the lady but twice in my life -- Ms. Spates, isn't it
true you have never been offered any money we never even talked about
any money? She said, that's exactly right. She goes on to say I was
never offered any money. So you have Ms. Spates, who is the only person
that said anything about Mr. Jowers' involvement in this, and which
version do you believe? Do you believe that she told the truth one time
or the other time? Both of them were under oath. Now, as far as Mr.
McCraw, I knew Mr. McCraw, represented him for years. The thing about
Mr. McCraw is that as Mr. Hamblin said, you couldn't believe a thing he
That's his best friend, he got on the stand and said you couldn't
believe a word he said. Mr. Jowers played a very, very insignificant and
minor role in this if he played anything at all. He stated because of
who he has come forth and said, that he has lost his wife, everything he
has and his health. So he played a very insignificant, very small role,
if anything in this thing.
It was much bigger than Mr. Jowers, who owned a little greasy-spoon
restaurant there and happened to be at the location that he was. Now,
ladies and gentlemen, I guess the area of disagreement between Dr.
Pepper and myself for the most part is this: It is Mr. James Earl Ray's
part in this case.
Let's look at this. You know, you have Mr. Ray here, who was a
convict who spent ninety-nine and nine-tenths of his life in prison, who
would do anything for money. He'd rob, take a gun, steal, do anything
for money. He enjoyed his notoriety as the most famous prisoner this
state has ever known.
He enjoyed that. That was a big thing with him. Here he was let out
of prison in a bread truck. If you saw the poster here that's an
exhibit, fifty dollars reward. Big reward for him, wasn't it, for a man.
He came and talked Dr. King. Don't you think it is ironic he was in
Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, Tennessee, when Dr. King was
there, Selma, Alabama, little town of Selma when Dr. King was there?
Don't you think it is ironic that there was a map that they found
when he was in Atlanta
where he circled Dr. King's home, his church, his place of business? I
asked him on the deposition -- I know the deposition was long and
burdensome to you, but I want you to hear what he said. He has told a
thousand and one stories. This was his last one. This is number one
thousand and one. As far as I know, it is the last time he ever told his
story and testified.
It is ironic that he had a map of Atlantawith these three markings. He had never
been to Memphis , never been to Birmingham , never been to New Orleans, no maps. But a map of Atlantawas found in his
car which admitted had the circle around Dr. King's home, his place of
business and Dr. King's church.
Now, the State of Tennesseesays that James Earl Ray acted and
acted alone. I think there is some validity to that. I don't agree with
everything they say, but I think there is some validity to it. Mr. Ray,
when I asked him how did you know that Dr. King had been assassinated,
he said, I heard it on the news. I had just gone through a whole series
of questions where he said I never listened to the news. I said, didn't
you know they had riots in
you know there was someone killed there? He said, I never listened to
the news. Five minutes after Dr. King was killed, yeah, I heard it on
the news. I think Mr. Ray's testimony speaks for itself.
He goes in and buys a gun he says from somebody named Raoul that
asked him to do this, but he gets a gun that Raoul says -- first of all,
Raoul didn't tell him to get a scope. He got that on his own. He didn't
tell him to get a scope on a rifle. He goes in and says, I want another
gun, this is not the right gun, Raoul told me to do this, but he never
showed the gun to Raoul. Was there really a Raoul? Maybe there was.
Isn't it ironic that for month no one ever saw him with Mr. Ray, no one,
no one. Now, when you take all the testimony here from Mr. Ray and all
the scenarios and the things that happened, it makes you wonder, did Mr.
Ray do this? Dr. Francisco says, I was taken up to the window there
where the shot was supposed to have come from and I saw the path of the
bullet. In my opinion, it came from that window sill. This is a medical
examiner saying that. Ladies and gentlemen, last year the Attorney
General's Office here concluded a five-year investigation, five years,
and this is a report of theirs. Don't decide this case without reading
this report. It is an exhibit. Can you read it. Don't decide the case
without seeing this. It wouldn't be fair to anyone if you didn't. They
concluded that there is no proof here that anyone acted in this case
except Mr. Ray that was material.
Now, you know, you wonder sometimes why people tell things, and
you've got to think about, well, is that -- what are the circumstances?
Because in March of 1969, here again is an exhibit which you need to
read before deciding this case, Mr. Ray was asked by Judge Battle, "Are
you pleading guilty to murder in the first degree in this case because
you killed Dr. Martin Luther King under such circumstances that would
make you legally guilty of murder in the first degree under the law as
explained to you by your lawyers? Answer, yes."
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I think under the circumstances, if you
remember former Congressman Fountroy here said -- I asked him, why did
the committee conclude that Mr. Ray was the assassin? What was his
answer? He said because he kept changing his story. Do you remember tht?
That's the testimony he gave here, a gentleman who was in charge of the
This went on for weeks and weeks and weeks. They spent money, untold
sums of money to investigate this case. They concluded that Mr. Ray was
the one who pulled the trigger, was the one who did the assassination.
Now, let me say this: After spending several years with this case and
talking to many, many witnesses, listening to this trial and taking many
depositions, you can't help but wonder about things. You've got to
wonder from this standpoint: Would the restaurant owner of a
greasy-spoon restaurant and a lone assassin, could they pull away
officers from the scene of an assassination? Could they change rooms?
Could they put someone up on top of the fire station? A convict and a
greasy-spoon restaurant owner, could they do that? You know, when this
trial started, there are two people mentioned in this guilty plea who
are still living. I talked to them and issued subpoenas for them to be
here who are prosecutors to explain you to ladies and gentlemen as to
why there wasn't more done to investigate this case. Mr. Ray tried
several times, seven, eight, nine times, to get a trial the Court of
Appeals, the Supreme Court, never granted it. He was turned down that
many times. Why didn't they test the gun? I don't know. It doesn't make
sense to me. You know, that would have ended this case if they had
tested the gun. There is DNA -- they can use means now to test these
guns. They could find out if they wanted to. Why wasn't that done? I
I've never understood as to why the prosecutors and the Attorney
General, if they really wanted to end this case and solve it, why didn't
they test the gun. That would have told us whether or not Mr. Ray --
that was the gun that did it with his fingerprints on it or was it
another gun. It was never done. They fought it and fought it and fought
I talked to two prosecutors who agreed to be here to testify, who had
subpoenas to be here. The day before yesterday, without you knowing, the
Court of Appeals said, no, you can't bring them in.
They turned us down again. That's the same thing we've had over and
over and over.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, it is ironic in this case that when the
extradition proceedings were started against Mr. Ray, that it was to try
to extradite him for conspiracy to murder. That was the first thing the
United Statesgovernment tried to extradite Mr. Ray for, was conspiracy
You know, when you stop and rationalize this case and think, there
has to be more it to it than a greasy-spoon restaurant owner and an
escaped convict. They could not have arranged these things. They could
not have done those things. Mr. Arkin testified here that one hour
before the assassination, or a couple hours, there was a man that came
in from Washington , sent in here from Washingtonsaying Mr. Redditt has had a threat
on his life and you've got to go get him. Could a greasy-spoon operator
and escaped convict arrange for that? You know that's not the case. And
I do, too. Anyone who can think knows better than that. Mr. Arkin also
said there were officers from the
United Statesgovernment in his office.
Why were they here? What were they doing here? They were sent here by
the United Statesgovernment.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, we've had problems with race in Memphis, and I'm sorry to
say that I must talk about it to some extent. It has been said by a
person who was very knowledgeable that we have the most serious racial
city in this nation, and that's bad, that's terrible. We've got to live
together and learn to live together and to know that we are all bothers
and sisters. It shouldn't be this way. It shouldn't be we should have
this type racism and the type problems we have.
In this case you have the opportunity to speak. You'll speak in your
verdict in case that will either say one of two things: That we know
that there was a conspiracy here, we know that they didn't intend for
Dr. King to go to Washington to march, and we know that the United
States government, the FBI and the Memphis Police Department and other
government agencies along with Mr. Liberto and Mr. Earl Clark and Mr.
James Earl Ray were involved in this case, and that's the type verdict
that I would ask you to consider.
You told me at the beginning you weren't afraid to let the chips fall
where they may. I gather from that that you are not afraid of the United Statesgovernment. You are not afraid of the Memphis Police
Department. If they are liable, you are going to say they are. Am I
correct? Isn't that what we agreed to?
I think the testimony here that you've heard and the proof that
you've heard indicates clearly there is more than just Mr. Jowers
involved. He was a small-time greasy-spoon cafe operator who played a
very small significant part in this case, if anything. If you will study
over the reports I've provided for you and the exhibits, think about all
the testimony that has been given here and what really happened, ladies
and gentlemen, your verdict would have to be that the
United Statesgovernment, the FBI, the Memphis Police Department and
others were involved in this conspiracy to murder Dr. King.
It is a shameful, terrible thing that happened here in Memphis. I'm sorry and
apologize to Mr. King that it did, but think about it. It is a very
serious matter. You'll never have a more serious opportunity to sit on a
jury than this where the issues are more serious than this. Whatever you
say will be recorded in history, and this will be it. We expect this
case to end after this. It has been going on for years, but we think it
is going to end with your decision in this case.
Please give it serious consideration and please think about a
judgment against others besides Mr. Jowers. He played a very small part,
you know he did, in this case. Think about the other part that Mr. Ray
played, Mr. Liberto played. You've got testimony here from a witness
that is uncontradicted saying that Mr. Liberto told me he had Martin
Luther King assassinated.
Go over it. Think about it. Read over it. There is only one thing to
do, that's to say that we the jury find that the United States
government, FBI, State of Tennessee, Mr. Liberto, Mr. James Earl Ray,
they were all involved in a conspiracy to murder Dr. Martin Luther King.
That's the only decision can you make.
MR. PEPPER: I didn't realize I was going to have to
try Mr. James Earl Ray's guilt or innocence in this courtroom, but
counsel has raised it, so I should address some of the issues.
Mr. Ray had a habit of marking maps. I have in my possession maps
that he marked when he was in Texas, Montreal and Atlanta, and what he
did was it helped him to locate what he did and where he was going.
The Atlantamap is nowhere related to Dr. King's residence. It is three oblong
circles that covered general areas, one where he was living on
Peachtree. He did this. He did this up in Montreal
at the Neptune Bar, did this in Texas
when he was going down to Mexico
and Laredo. It was a habit
that James had. The maps are part of his practice, if you will.
James never stalked Martin Luther King. James was moved from place to
place on instructions. He was told to go somewhere and he would go. He
was given to some money, told to come to
New Orleansand he would be given money.
James Earl Ray was in Los Angeles and
was told to go to New Orleans. When Martin Luther King came to Los Angeles, James Earl Ray left. He was there
first and he left. He didn't stay in Los Angeles. That was the time he left for
Martin came there in March. He was in Atlanta when Martin King was there
part of the time, but Dr. King was in and out of Atlanta a great deal of
the time. So he would have to be there some of the time. He was not in Selma when Martin King was in Selma. That is a myth. He
didn't stalk Dr. King. There was no reason to stalk him.
He wasn't in New York when he was in
New York. He
wasn't in Florida when he was in Florida. He wasn't in
Chicago when was when Martin King was in
worked in Wanetka ,
Illinois, for a period of time.
He wasn't in prison ninety-nine percent of his time. Before James
Earl Ray went into the Army, he held down jobs. When came out, he held
down jobs. When he got fired, that's when he started to get in trouble.
He went and hung out in bars occasionally and somebody would suggest a
good idea about how to get some money. So James fell into it. He was,
rightly as Mr. Garrison says, was a penny-ante crook. That's really what
it came down to.
He knew nothing about firearms. The man who sold him the rifle,
Donald Woods, said he never saw a person who new less about firearms
than James Earl Ray. Never saw a person who knew less about firearms.
He used to carry a pistol. When he would stick up a store, he would
carry a pistol, and he had five bullets in the pistol. I asked him,
James, why would you have five bullets in the pistol, why not six? He
always kept the firing pin chamber empty. He was embarrassed to tell me.
Finally I got it out of him. One time literally he shot himself in
the foot. It was an accident and the gun went off. He decided if he kept
the firing pin chamber empty, that wouldn't happen. He only had five
bullets. When he was arrested at Heathrow in London, that gun he was carrying had only five
He was somebody who was capable of being used for a crime like this.
He was someone who was gullible in a lot of ways.
He was someone who needed money. He was on the run when he was
concerned and he was someone that could be used. And he was used, and
being used, he was told only what he needed to know. Because that's the
way those things operate. Once he came under the control of this fellow,
he would be told where to go, what to do, only what he needed to know.
10 He bought the wrong gun. He bought a 243 Winchester. Raoul said, no, he wanted 12 a
30-06. He pointed it out to him in a 3 brochure and he went back and got
it. The very fact that he bought a gun and then went around and
immediately exchanged it indicates that somebody is involved, somebody
is controlling him or telling him to do something. So he did that.
Yes, he heard about the assassination on the radio, heard it on the
car radio. He came back around to go to park the car on South Main Street
the way Raoul instructed him. At the time he came back around, the
police were all over the place.
He is an escaped convict. He is not thinking of Martin Luther King or
anything else. He is thinking of being an escaped convict and being
stopped. So he takes off. That's exactly what he did. He took off. And
he did hear about this on the radio. The more he drove, the more he
listened to the radio, the more he realized he was in serious trouble.
One of the problems James Earl Ray faced and lawyers for him faced
was the fact that he was a classic con. If he believed someone was
trying to help him, he wouldn't tell, he wouldn't name that person,
wouldn't tell you who the person was. By my view, he mistakenly believed
he was being helped, particularly when he was in
Canada. But he would never tell us who was assisting him because
he thought these were people who were legitimately trying to help him
and he was not going to rat on them.
When he was captured after one prison escape and he was asked
continually to explain how he got out, how he managed to get away, he
refused to tell them. When I pushed him on it, how did it happen, he
said, well, the guard was asleep, the guard fell asleep.
I said, why didn't you tell me that? He said, no, no, I might need
him again another day. Even in that case he wouldn't tell So Ray was
that kind of character.
I looked at him from 1978 to 1988, only began to represent him in
1988. Ten years after I started on this case I consented to represent
James Earl Ray when I became totally convinced after ten years of
looking at the evidence that he had no knowing involvement. He pled
guilty because that was the thing to do.
Mr. Garrison read to you the response to the judge. What he left out
was the fact that Ray said, yes, legally guilty, legally guilty. He was
legally because he was copping a plea, so he was legally guilty. He
never confessed. The media has always said he confessed, the confessed
killer. He never confessed.
He always insisted that he didn't do it, always wanted a trial. When
he fired the Haynes, Foremen came in, December 18th Foreman came on this
case, formally into Memphis for the first time for a hearing, two p.m.
that afternoon Foreman's local counsel was in meeting with the
prosecutor. Two p.m., December 18th we have the minutes of the meeting,
the local attorney was meeting with the prosecutor, Canale, to start
plea-bargaining negotiations. Imagine that, without any knowledge of Ray
On February 21 he was writing to his brother that I expect a trial to
start perhaps in April. That late they had been stitching him up all
that time beforehand.
Finally Foreman comes down on him and says that you've got to plead
guilty, they are doing fry your ass, they convicted you in the paper,
they are going to send your father back where he was a parole violator
forty years ago, they are going to harass the rest of your family and,
besides, Forman said, I'm not in good health and I can't give you your
That was the thing that James said always, he had to get rid of that
lawyer and didn't think the judge would change him, so he said to him to
plead, which he did on March 10th, and then I'll get a new trial, the
motion was denied on March 13th, and he tried ever since. He filed
motions. The judge died. Judge Battle died with his head on James Earl
Ray's application for a new trial, died in his chambers with his head on
those papers at the end of March. James was denied that trial.
When a sitting judge dies, normally such a case when a motion is
pending, it is granted. There were two motions pending before that
judge. One was granted. One was not. James Earl Ray remained in prison.
I mean, I didn't intend to belabor Mr. Ray's innocence, but I believe
firmly he is innocent, he was an unknowing patsy in this case and he was
As far as Ms. Spates' testimony, I did refer to it earlier. The
statement that you heard read under oath in her deposition were
paragraphs specifically from an affidavit that she had given
subsequently to her interview by the TBI and the Attorney General's
Office here. And from what she told me, that was a
horrifically-pressured interview that they gave her, was distorted
inaccurate, untruthful, and that's why she gave that other story. And
she reluctantly put Mr. Jowers right in the middle of it.
Now, having said all of that, Mr. Garrison is quite right, you can
read the Attorney General's report. Take a look at it. Remember one
thing when you take a look at it. The man who headed that investigation
sat there. He was one of the witnesses Mr. Garrison called that we were
able to examine before the Court of Appeals said you are not going to
talk to any of those people.
Mr. Glankler sat in that chair. I just gave him a sampling of names,
gave him twenty-three names. Do you recall that? I asked him if he
interviewed these people in his investigation, these witnesses with
vital evidence that you've heard, twenty-three.
Do you know how many he actually interviewed? I recall I think it was
two. That's the investigation the Attorney General's Office did. That
just speaks for itself, in my view. So I would look at the report in
that kind of context. As to the House Select Committee investigation,
Representative Fountroy is very uncomfortable with the results of that
investigation, very unhappy, has been for a number of years. He has
indicated that they didn't have enough time, they could have perhaps
done better if they had more time.
At other times he said the staff he thinks misled them. Fountroy was
never happy with the results of that investigation. And I think he has
made that quite clear.
Raoul, the evidence on Raoul speaks for itself. Mr. Jowers himself
has identified Raoul. Mr. Jowers identified Raoul from the spread of
photographs that I showed him when Dexter King and I met. He knows who
Raoul was. He identified him as the man who came into the restaurant who
Liberto sent in.
Now, one thing Mr. Garrison and I do agree on -- we agree on a lot of
things, actually, but one thing in particular, is that Mr. Jowers is a
small part of this whole thing. He owned this cafe, and he did have a
debt, an obligation, to Mr. Liberto, and he was prevailed upon to become
involved in this assassination. He didn't go out looking for it. He was
prevailed upon to be involved.
I'm not really certain about how much money he got for his
involvement. I think he got a substantial amount of money. I think that
is what the stove money was all about. But I'm not certain of that. We
will never know that, I suppose.
Mr. Jowers has unburdened himself to the King family. He has -- it is
late in his life. And for whatever reason, he has come forward and he
has, as Mr. Garrison has told you, voluntarily told elements of the
We believe that that is what he has done.
He has just told elements of the story protecting himself to the
extent that he can because he is worried about being ultimately
indicted. We think foolishly so because we don't think there is any
interest in that, but that is his fear.
What, however, we don't believe, is that Mr. Jowers was unknowingly
We've put into evidence the Prime Time Live interview with Sam
Donaldson, and in that interview and in the transcript of that it is
very clear -- he tells different nuances of the story, but it is very
clear that he knew what was going on, he knew what was happening.
Both Ambassador Young and Dexter King have said the one thing they
didn't believe about him is when he said he didn't know. You can
understand why he would say that, because he is talking to the son of
Martin Luther King, Jr., the son of the victim is sitting right in front
of him. How does he -- with eyes together how does he say I knew, I was
a part of this, I was a knowing part of it? So he said, I don't know. We
just don't believe that.
And we believe the evidence of Bill Hamblin, who said McCraw told him
what happened to that rifle, but he told him when he was drunk over a
period of fifteen years each time. It might be very right that McCraw
would lie when he was sober. But when he was drunk, Hamblin said, you
may recall, he was straight, he told him the truth, and he told him the
same detail again and again and again. If he had been sober and he would
tell him one story and then another, then you would say there was some
prevarication, maybe it was not true, but Hamblin said it was the same
story again and again and again but only would discuss it when he was
On the basis of all of that, we believe that Mr. Hamblin is telling
the truth, that that murder weapon is at the bottom of the Mississippi River where it was thrown by Mr. McCraw.
So that is basically it, ladies and gentlemen. I think that you have
to keep in mind that no matter how small the part Mr. Jowers played in
this whole sorry episode, he nonetheless played a part and is a
conspirator. He is guilty, libel in this court. He is libel in this
court of conspiracy because he was involved.
Irrespective of James Earl Ray, and I believe in respect of James'
memory -- he is not here to defend himself, but I had to give you
information about him -- but irrespective of that, even if you found
that James was involved and up to his neck, that does not absolve Mr.
Loyd Jowers, neither does it absolve the governments and the government
agents who have been involved in this case.
So a verdict of an existence of conspiracy, as Mr. Garrison said,
quite rightly, does mean that there is a conspiracy, and it involves all
of the elements that you have seen here today, and the award of damages,
nominal though it is, is to be -- is also to be a part of your verdict.
Thank you very much. Once again, please, we're asking you to send
this message from this courtroom across the land. Though they will not
know the details what you have heard probably ever, unless researchers
want to come in and read all of this, they will not be able at least to
suppress the mighty Whirlitzer sound of your verdict.
That's the message that we ask you to send from this courtroom to the
rest of this country and indeed the world who are concerned about the
assassination of Martin Luther King and his loss to civilized mankind.
(Jury charge not transcribed.)
THE COURT: I understand the jury has reached a
verdict. I'm going to bring them out. They've indicated that they want a
picture of themselves. So I'm authorizing this gentleman to take one
picture. He is going to make sure there are no additional copies. I'll
have copies made of them and send them to the jurors.
THE COURT: All right, ladies and gentlemen. I
understand you reached a verdict. Is that correct?
THE JURY: Yes (In unison).
THE COURT: May I have that verdict.
(Verdict form passed to the Court.)
THE COURT: I have authorized this gentleman here to
take one picture of you which I'm going to have developed and make
copies and send to you as I promised. Okay. All right, ladies and
gentlemen. Let me ask you, do all of you agree with this verdict?
THE JURY: Yes (In unison).
THE COURT: In answer to the question did Loyd Jowers
participate in a conspiracy to do harm to Dr. Martin Luther King, your
answer is yes. Do you also find that others, including governmental
agencies, were parties to this conspiracy as alleged by the defendant?
Your answer to that one is also yes. And the total amount of damages you
find for the plaintiffs entitled to is one hundred dollars. Is that your
THE JURY: Yes (In unison).
THE COURT: All right. I want to thank you ladies and
gentlemen for your participation. It lasted a lot longer than we had
originally predicted. In spite of that, you hung in there and you took
your notes and you were alert all during the trial. And we appreciate
it. We want you to note that our courts cannot function if we don't have
jurors who accept their responsibility such as you have.
I, BRIAN F. DOMINSKI, Reporter and Notary Public, ShelbyCounty
The foregoing proceedings were taken before me at the time and place
stated in the foregoing styled cause with the appearances as noted;
Being a Court Reporter, I then reported the proceedings in Stenotype
to the best of my skill and ability, and the foregoing pages contain a
full, true and correct transcript of my said Stenotype notes then and
I am not in the employ of and am not related to any of the parties or
their counsel, and I have no interest in the matter involved.
WITNESS MY SIGNATURE, this, the ____ day of ___________, 1999.
BRIAN F. DOMINSKI
Certificate of Merit Holder; Registered Professional Reporter, Notary
Public for the State of
Tennesseeat Large My commission expires: April 14, 2001.
We were indeed first out on November 15, 1999. The Judge
agreed to let one media pool camera in the courtroom along
with our own video camera. The media camera, like the media
itself, would come and go (they were nearly always absent,
with the notable and sole exception of local anchorman
Wendell Stacy who almost lost his job at that time over his
insistence that he attend every day. – so important did he
regard the case. He was eventually fired and by August 2000
was preparing a wrongful dismissal action.)
Jury selection began that morning in the small Division
IV courtroom. We discussed moving the case to a larger
courtroom, but because of the Judge’s health needs, it was
agreed that the trial would remain in his usual room. The
Judge disclosed to both sides that he had been a member of
the group, which had carried Dr. King’s casket from the
funeral home in Memphis after the assassination. If,
therefore, either side wanted him to withdraw, he said he
would, we certainly had no reason to do so although the
defense might have felt differently. Defense attorney
Garrison also had no objection. The Judge stayed on the
After almost despairing about finding an acceptable local
counsel, I finally was able to obtain the services of Juliet
Hill-Akines, a young black lawyer, who had been admitted to
the Bar in 1994. Before Juliet agreed, I discussed the
possibility with a large number of local lawyers, all of
whom turned down the opportunity – usually because they were
advised that it would have a negative impact on their
careers. Rather than expressing such apprehensions, Juliet
took this as a challenge and an honor to be representing the
family of Martin Luther King Jr. I admired her decision and
was grateful for her independence and courage.
Judge James Swearingen barred the media from the jury
selection process. Due to the sensitivity of the case, he
was anxious to protect the identities of the individual jury
members and, to the extent possible, ensure their privacy.
He would issue a further order barring any cameras from
being pointed at the jury at any time during the trial and
would even hold one spectator in contempt and impose a fine
for violating the order.
An attorney for The Memphis Commercial Appeal, promptly
made a motion requesting the Judge to allow the media to be
present during the jury selection process. Relying upon the
rules of court, which gave him discretion, the Judge denied
the motion. They appealed, and the Judge’s ruling was
eventually overturned, but it was moot since we had selected
the jury by the end of the first day.
Since there were five plaintiffs to one defendant, we had
the right exercise many more exclusions. We used them all
since the jury pool – in excess of forty – contained a large
number of people who were employed by law enforcement
agencies and security firms. After the voir dire, I
consulted with Juliet in respect of each candidate. Almost
routinely, we agreed to exclude potential jurors from those
areas of work.
At the end of that first day, a jury of eight men and
four women, six of them black and six white, were chosen.
The trial would start at 10:00 AM the next morning, and
after opening arguments, we would begin the plaintiff’s case
with Coretta Scott King as our first witness. On behalf of
the plaintiffs, I had drawn together an intelligent,
enthusiastic volunteer team. Professor Phillip Melanson and
the Reverend Mike Clark agreed to deal with all media
queries since both sides had agreed that we would follow the
English practice that counsel would not give media
interviews during the trial. The decision was taken to avoid
the inevitable media spins and in an effort to let the
evidence spear for itself. Risako Kobayashi, my assistant,
would co-ordinate the production of evidence and the
synchronisation of materials and exhibits to witness
testimony. Attorney Ray Kohlman, from Massachusetts, was in
charge of court logistics, special research, and last minute
investigation. My sons Sean and Liam, over from England,
would respectively organize for the scheduled arrival and
departure of the nearly 70 witnesses and film the
Security was handled by Cliff Dates (CDA Security), who
organised security details for the members of the King
family, who, in turns, were present in the courtroom
throughout the trial.
The trial began on 16 November. Opening arguments were
finished by the lunch break, and that afternoon we called
Coretta Scott King as our first witness. Court TV was there
to cover her testimony and provide the pool camera. They
would pull out and be absent for most of the trial,
returning for celebrity witnesses but missing most of the
material evidence as did the rest of the media. In copycat
fashion, as though programmed by the same puppeteer, local
regional and national media were absent for most of the
The plaintiff’s case was divided into nine areas of
The background to the assassination
The local conspiracy
The crime scene
The murder weapon
The broader conspiracy
The cover up – its scope and activities
The defendant’s prior admissions
Though many of the witnesses testified to facts with
which the reader is already familiar since they emerged in
the investigation, discussed earlier, I will summarise the
details of the testimony because, of course, they achieve a
new status as evidence given under oath in a court of law.
Mrs. King led off the group of witnesses, whose testimony
provided evidence about the historical background and events
leading up to the assassination. They offered various
perspectives and facts and described the official hostility
to Dr. King’s vigorous opposition to the war in Vietnam and
his commitment to lead a massive contingent of poor and
alienated people to Washington, where they would take up a
tent city residence in the Capitol and lobby the Congress
for long overdue social legislation. Dr. King’s support of
the sanitation workers strike was described by Reverend
James Lawson as was the eruption of violence in the march of
March 28, which Dr. Coby Smith of the Invaders testified,
appeared, to be the work of out of state provocateurs.
The role of the Invaders and their sudden departure from
the Lorraine Motel was testified, to in detail, by Dr. Smith
and Charles Cabbage. Smith said that the Invaders decided to
work with Dr. King in planning of the April march because
they had been wrongly blamed for the violence, which had
broken up the previous march. He insisted that they had
conducted their own investigation and became convinced that
the disruption was caused by out of state provocateurs. He
said they had reached a basic agreement with SCLC and Dr.
King, and in order to facilitate their participation in the
planning process, the group had moved into two rooms in the
Lorraine Motel. Their rooms were also on the balcony level
some doors south of Dr. King’s room, and he said that they
had participated in various planning sessions and meetings
with Dr. King following his arrival on April 3.
Cabbage described the Invaders’ sudden departure within
11 minutes of the shooting. He said that a member of the
Lorraine staff knocked on their door. It must have been
after 5:30 PM. They were told that they had to leave because
SCLC was no longer going to pay their bill. This appeared
strange because the bill for that evening’s lodging would
have clearly been paid, or obligated to be paid, much
earlier in the day. Though it made no sense from any
standpoint, he said they accepted the order, which he said
they were told came from Reverend Jesse Jackson, and quickly
packed up their things and began to leave around 10 minutes
before 6:00 PM. The timing of their departure was later
confirmed by the testimony of MPD Captain Willie B Richmond
(retired), who noted the event in his surveillance report
developed from his observation post inside and at the rear
of the fire station. Captain Richmond also testified that
around the same time, he observed Reverend Kyles knock on
Dr. King’s door. Richmond said Dr. King opened the door,
spoke with him briefly, and then closed the door. Kyles then
walked some distance north on the balcony and stood at the
railing. This account, of course, contradicted the story of
Kyles has told for nearly 32 years, in which he said he was
in Dr. King’s room for about 30 - 45 minutes before the
At one point, Cabbage said when they were being asked to
leave, he observed the Reverend Jesse Jackson standing on
the ground near the swimming pool, which was opposite the
balcony rooms occupied by Dr. King and the Invaders. He said
that Reverend Jackson kept glancing impatiently at his
watch. (It must be said, however, that the group was running
late for their scheduled dinner at Reverend Kyles’s home.)
It is more difficult to understand why Jackson would have
caused them to be summarily evicted (if he indeed did so) at
that hour so near the time of the killing. Reverend Jackson
has reportedly stated subseqnetly that he didn’t even
remember that the Invaders were staying at the Lorraine.
Cabbage never understood it. In his testimony, he also
confirmed that the Invaders occupying the Lorraine rooms
were quite heavily armed as was their usual custom because
of the hostility of the MPD.
The Local Conspiracy
The involvement of produce dealer Frank Liberto in
setting up the local conspiracy was conclusively established
by a string of witnesses.
For the first time in the 22 years that I have known him,
John McFerren took the stand and testified under oath about
hearing, within an hour and a quarter of the killing,
Liberto screaming into the telephone to “Shoot the son of a
bitch on the balcony,” subsequently telling the caller to go
to New Orleans to collect money from his brother. John,
courageous and forthright, began his testimony by telling
the jury about the long history of his family’s ascent from
slavery and his civil rights activity and harassment in
Fayette County, one of Tennessee’s most racist areas. As he
described the events that took place within an hour and a
quarter of the assassination, he repeated the same story
under oath that he first put before the FBI/MPD team who
interviewed him for hours at the Peabody Hotel on the Sunday
evening following the crime. The federal and local officials
dismissed his account in 1968 as did the Congressional
Committee 10 years later. This time it would be different. A
jury of 12 of John McFerren’s fellow citizens listened
attentively. Members of my team observing said the jury was
The role of Frank Liberto was further confirmed by the
testimony of Nathan Whitlock and his mother LaVada Addison
who provided details about the admissions Liberto made to
them separately in 1978, leaving them in no doubt that he
had organised the Memphis hit on Dr. King, that there would
be no security, the police were co-operating, and that a
patsy was in place. In subsequent testimony, Dexter King and
Ambassador Young testified that in their separate interviews
with Loyd Jowers, he had told them that sometime in March
after Dr. King’s first speech on behalf of the sanitation
workers on March 18, he was approached by Liberto, to whom
he said he owed a “big favour.” He basically confirmed the
story he had on the Prime Time live program without any
mention of Frank Holt being involved. Liberto told him that
he would be given $100,000 in a vegetable delivery box and
that he was to turn this money over to a man named Raul who
would visit him sometime afterward. He told Dexter and Andy
(and me, for as noted earlier, I attended the session with
Dexter) that Liberto had told him no police would be around
and that they had a patsy. In fact, he said, it all happened
in exactly that way. Planning sessions for the assassination
were held in his grill involving lieutenant John Barger
(whom he had known from his own early days on the police
force) Marrell McCollough, a black undercover officer
introduced to him by Barger, as his new partner, MPD
sharpshooter lieutenant Earl Clark (who was a hunting
companion of Jowers), a senior MPD inspector, and finally, a
fifth officer who he did not know. He said he remembered
that there were five because he had to pull up a chair to
the four-seater booth. Jowers said that if James was at all
involved, he was an unknowing patsy.
Hence, Jowers also confirmed the involvement of Frank
Liberto. Along with the testimonial evidence of McFerren,
Whitlock, and Addision and the deceased Art Baldwin’s
earlier disclosures, Frank Liberto’s primary role in the
assassination appeared to be clear.
A steady succession of witnesses provided details of the
removal of all police from the area of the crime, the
failure to put the usual security unit in place as well as
the removal of other individuals, whose presence in the
crime scene area constituted a security risk to the
Fireman Floyd Newsom and Norvell Wallace, the only two
black firemen at Fire Station No. 2, testified that less
than 24 hours before the assassination, they were ordered
not to report to their regular Fire Station No. 2 post on
the periphery of the Lorraine Motel but to stations in other
parts of the city. Newsom and Wallace said that their
transfers left their base station short handed while they
were surplus to requirements at the stations where they were
sent. The transfers made no sense, and they were given no
satisfactory explanation. Newsom said eventually one of his
superiors told him that the police department had requested
Detective Ed Redditt, a community relations officer
assigned to intelligence duty as Willie Richmond’s partner
on the surveillance detail at the rear of the fire station,
testified that he was picked up by Lieutenant Eli Arkin,
about an hour before the assassination and taken, first, to
Central Police Headquarters, where he was ordered, by
Director Frank Holloman, to go home because of an alleged
threat on his life. His protests were ignored. As he sat,
parked with Arkin in front of his house, the news of the
assassination came over the car radio. He never again heard
about the alleged threat, which apparently was a mistake of
some sort. He never received a satisfactory explanation, but
it was clear that his primary community relations police
duties had caused him to become closely involved with the
community, not MPD intelligence. It was understandable that
he would not be trusted to be allowed to stay in the crime
scene area if dirty work was a foot.
Memphis Police Department homicide detective Captain
Jerry Williams (retired) testified that on Dr. King’s
previous visits to Memphis, he had been given the
responsibility of organising and co-ordinating a security
unit of all black homicide detectives who would provide
protection for Dr. King while he was in the city. They would
ordinarily remain with him throughout his visit even
securing the hotel – usually the Rivermont or the Admiral
Benbow – where he stayed. Captain Williams testified that on
Dr. King’s last, and fatal, visit to Memphis, however, he
was not asked to form that security unit. It was not in
place. He always wondered why but never received a
satisfactory explanation. At one point, he was told that Dr.
King’s group did not want them around. There was no
indication, of any kind, from any SCLC source that this was
true. In fact, Reverend Lawson remembered being impressed
with the group on a previous visit and their verbal promise
to him that as long as they were in place, no harm would
come to Dr. King.
On April 3 and 4, 1968, they were not in place.
Testifying out of order, because he had been
hospitalised, Invader Big John Smith said that though there
was a small police presence at the motel, earlier on the
afternoon of April 4, he noticed that it had completely
disappeared within a half-hour of the assassination.
University of Massachusetts Professor Phillip Melanson
took the stand to testify about the removal of the emergency
forces TACT 10 Unit from the Lorraine Motel on April 4.
Only, he and I had previously separately interviewed
inspector Sam Evans, who was in charge of those units, and
since I could not readily testify, Phil took the stand. He
said that Evans admitted pulling back the TACT 10 Unit,
which had been based at the Lorraine Motel, to the periphery
of the fire station. Evans claimed that the decision was
taken pursuant to a request from someone in Dr. King’s
group. When pressed as to who actually made the request, he
said that it was Reverend Kyles. The fact, that Kyles had
nothing to do with SCLC and no authority to request any such
thing, seemed to have eluded Evans.
It would be hard to imagine, on that April 4, a more
complete stripping away of not only the available security
personnel from Dr. King but also a more thorough removal of
individuals who were not deemed completely trustworthy or
controllable. And it was all set in motion twenty four hours
before the assassination.
Stories had always been around about Dr. King’s room
having been changed. Former New York City police detective
Leon Cohen testified that early in the morning on the day,
following the assassination, he learned from Walter Bailey,
the manager of the Lorraine Motel, that Dr. King was meant
to be in a secluded more secure courtyard room, but that on
the evening prior to his arrival, someone from SCLC’s office
in Atlanta called to instruct that Dr. King be given a
balcony room overlooking the swimming pool. Cohen, who moved
to Memphis and worked as a private investigator after
retiring from the New York City Police Department, testified
that Bailey maintained that he tried to talk the person who
Bailey said was a man who he knew out of this decision, but
the caller was adamant. Dr. King was moved.
At time of the trial, Taxi driver James Millner had known
Loyd Jowers for over twenty five years. He testified that,
in fact, in the early to mid 1970’s, Jowers had basically
told him the same story that he revealed in 1993 about how
he became involved with the assassination, how it was
planned and carried out, and who (Lieutenant Earl Clark)
pulled the trigger.
Another driver – J. J. Isabel – testified that on the
occasion of St. Patrick’s day 1979 or 1980 – he and Jowers
drove two chartered busses to Cleveland taking a Memphis
group to a bowling tournament. They shared an hotel room,
and after a meal and some drinking on the first evening,
when they returned to their room, Isabel said he asked
Jowers, “Loyd, did you drop the hammer on Martin Luther
King?” He said that Jowers kind of hesitated for a moment or
two and then replied, “You may think that you know what I
did, but I know what I did, but I will never tell it in
The value of Millner and Isabel’s separate testimony is,
of course, that like Whitlock/Addision and McFerren, they
provide corroboration at least of a local conspiracy, as
well as aspects of Jowers’ story, long before his
involvement become an issue.
One of Jowers’s former waitresses Bobbi Balfour testified
that on the day of the killing, Jowers told her not to carry
food up to a tenant in the rooming house, Grace Walden
Stephens, who was ill. She said that it had always been her
regular practice with Loyd’s approval to bring food up to
Charlie Stephens’ common law wife during her illness, but on
that day, Loyd explicitly told her to stay away from the
Finally, Olivia Catling, who lived and still lives, on
Mulberry Street, midway between Huling and Vance about 200
yards from the Lorraine, testified that she was at home
preparing dinner for her family when she heard the shot. She
knew that Dr. King was staying at the Lorraine Motel, and
she feared the worst. As quickly as she could, she collected
her young children and ran out of her house down Mulberry
Street toward the Lorraine. By the time she reached the
Northwest corner of Huling and Mulberry (see Fig. # ), the
police had already barricaded Mulberry Street with a police
car, so she and the children had to stand on the corner. She
testified that shortly after she arrived on the corner, she
saw a white man running from an alley, half way up Huling,
which ran to a building connected with the rooming house. He
arrived at a car parked on the south side of Huling and
facing east, got in, and drove quickly away turning left on
to Mulberry and going right past her as well as the MPD
officers opposite her who were manning the barricade. She
was surprised that the police paid no attention to him and
did not try to prevent him from leaving the area.
Shortly afterward, she testified that she saw a fireman –
who she believed must have walked down from the fire station
– standing near the wall below the brushes, yelling at the
police on the street that the shot came from a clump of
bushes apparently just above the area where he was standing.
She said that the police ignored him.
Olivia Catling testified that she had never been
interviewed by any law enforcement officials. She said that
there was no house to house investigation. Though she has
lived so close to the scene of the crime for 32 years since
the assassination, no one had knocked on her door until I
did so in November of 1999. She seemed relieved to finally
get it off her chest. She said that she had been so burdened
all of these years because she knew that an innocent man was
in prison. When I met her, of course, James had died, but at
least this wiry, clear, and tough-minded Memphian could take
satisfaction that at last her story would be heard.
Memphis Police Department homicide detective Captain
Tommy Smith (retired) testified that very soon after the
assassination, he interviewed rooming house tenant Charles
Quitman Stephens, the state’s chief witness against James
Earl Ray, and found him intoxicated and hardly able to stand
up. It must be remembered that it was on the strength of
Stephens’s affidavit of identification that James was
extradited from England. In actual fact, Captain Smith said
he was not in condition to identify anyone.
The state had always maintained that after firing from
the bathroom window, James stopped in his room to pick up
his bundle of belongings and fled carrying the rifle and the
bundle, eventually exiting the front door of the rooming
house, dropping the bundle in the doorway of Guy Canipe’s
shop. Then, so the official story goes James got into a
white Mustang parked just slightly south of Canipe’s store
and drove away. Stephens was supposed to have caught a
glimpse of the profile of the fleeing man.
Charles Hurley testified that while waiting to pick up
his wife from work, he parked behind that white Mustang
about an hour and a quarter before the shooting. He said
that a man was sitting in it and was still there when they
drove away. Most importantly, however, he again confirmed,
though now under oath, that the white Mustang parked just
south of Canipe’s store, in which James is supposed to have
driven away, had Arkansas license plates. ( white
background, red letters ) James’s Mustang, of course, had
Alabama ( red background white number ) plates.
We read into the record and introduced into evidence FBI
302 statements taken from two witnesses who left Jim’s Grill
about 20 minutes before the killing. Ray Hendrix and Bill
Reed said that late on the afternoon of April 4, they walked
north on South Main Street after having looked at the white
Mustang parked directly in front of Jim’s Grill. The car
interested them so they took particular note of it. They
both confirmed, in separate statements, that as they were
about to cross Vance – two blocks north of Jim’s Grill – the
Mustang turned the corner directly in front of them. The
male driver was alone. This would have been about 5:45 PM.
This statement was suppressed at the time and never turned
over to the defence or revealed to the guilty plea jury a
The Crime Scene
Olivia Catling was the latest observer to give evidence
about the bushes behind the rooming house being the place,
from where the fatal shot was fired. There was abundant,
current, and historical eyewitness testimony, which clearly
established this fact and which was introduced into
Solomon Jones, Dr. King’s driver in Memphis, told a
number of people at the scene shortly after the shooting,
Wayne Chastain being one, that he saw a figure in the bushes
come down over the wall. The Reverend James Orange could not
appear due to a death in his family, but his sworn statement
was read into the record. He said that as turned around from
a crouching position in the Lorraine parking area,
immediately after the shot, he saw what he thought was smoke
(we have since learned that although it had the appearance
of smoke, it would have been sonic dust rising from the
bushes caused by the firing of the high powered rifle in the
heavily vegetated area.) He said no law enforcement or
investigative person had ever taken a statement from him.
Memphis Police Department dog officer J. B. Hodges
testified that he arrived on the scene within minutes after
the shooting. With the aid of a metal barrel to stand on, he
climbed up over the wall and entered the brush area. He
described the bushes as being very thick from the edge of
the wall for some distance toward the back of Jim’s Grill
and the rooming house. He said he had to fight his way
through the formidable thicket, but that eventually he
arrived at a clearing and went to the alleyway, which ran
between the two wings of the rooming house. No too far into
the alley, he said (that he found a pair of footprints
heading in the direction of the rooming house. At the end of
the alley, there was a door leading to the basement, which
ran underneath the entire building. It had rained the night
before, and the ground cover was wet, but there was no
growth in the alley, and the mud revealed an apparently
freshly made large footprints – sized 13 – 13 ½. Hodges
guarded his discovery until a cast was made. Those
footprints has never been identified or explained.
As a part of their testimonies related to their
questioning of Loyd Jowers, Dexter King and Andrew Young
separately recounted how he admitted taking the rifle from
the assassin whom he said had in fact fired from the bushes.
An earlier deposition of Jowers’ former waitress/lover Betty
Spates was read into the record, in which she claimed having
seen him carrying a rifle, running from the bushes in
through the back door of his kitchen. In this last instance,
the defense raised the question of her credibility noting
that she had altered her story when questioned by official
investigators. As noted elsewhere, this was true, but she
advised me that it was the result of their harassment. The
last statement, she gave to me under oath, was consistent
with what she originally told me in 1992. (Television trial
producer Jack Saltman, recently confirmed to me that Spates
had independently told him the same story also in 1992.) She
had indeed seen Loyd, white as a sheet, with muddy knees,
running from the bushes with the rifle. For years, she
believed that he did it, having tried back in 1969 to get
the story out. She had no idea that he had taken the gun
from the actual shooter.
Former New York Times reporter Earl Caldwell could not
break prior engagements in order to testify, but the defense
agreed to allow in a video of his testimony at the
television trial on the condition that the cross-examination
conducted by former U.S. Attorney Hickman Ewing was also
played. We agreed, and the jury saw and heard Caldwell
testify that he was sent to Memphis by the Times on April 3
with the instructions from national editor Claude Sitton to
“... nail Dr. King.” He said he was in his ground floor
motel room when he heard the shot, which he said, sounded
like a bomb blast. In his shorts, he said he ran outside of
his room and began to stare at the bushes, from where he
instinctively thought the shot must have come. He is certain
that he saw an individual crouching in the bushes, which he
said, were quite thick and tall. He vividly described the
person’s posture even in cross-examination coming down from
the stand to demonstrate how the person was squatting and
Probably, the most powerful single piece of evidence
(although the cumulative weight is overwhelming), that the
assassin fired from the bushes, was provided by the
testimony of Louie Ward, who recounted the story of fellow
driver who he always knew as “Buddy” but came incorrectly to
believe was Paul Butler, who, when in the process of picking
up a passenger at the Lorraine just before 6:00 PM, happened
to see, immediately after the shot, a man come down over the
wall, run north on Mulberry Street, and get into a Memphis
Police Department traffic car, which had been parked at the
corner of Mulberry and Huling and which then speeded away.
Louie Ward testified that he later learned that the taxi
driver had been killed that night, allegedly having been
thrown out of a speeding car on Route 55, the other side of
the Memphis Arkansas Bridge. He heard that the body was
found the next morning. Attorney Raymond Kohlman, to whom I
had assigned the research task, testified that the 1967
Memphis Polk Telephone Directory showed Paul and Betty
Butler living at 2639 (Apt # P1) Central Avenue, Memphis.
His employment was listed as a taxi driver for the Yellow
Cab Company, and his wife was a manager of a local Gridiron
restaurant. In the 1968 directory, Betty Butler was listed
at the “widow of Paul.” Attorney Kohlman went on to state
that there appeared to be no record of a death certificate
for Paul Butler. Subsequent to the trial, we would learn
that “Buddy” was not Paul Butler but another driver who
regularly made the airport runs in Car 58.
Ernestine Campbell, who a minute or two before the
shooting had driven up Butler, took a right turn on to
Mulberry, and then stopped in front of the Lorraine driving
way very shortly after Dr. King had been shot, told me, for
the first time, (as I pressed her to remember everything she
saw.) that as she started to pull away, on her right – the
passenger side – mirror she saw the back of a Yellow taxi
cab in the Lorraine driveway. I believed that in that
fleeting glimpse, she had seen taxi cab 58, Buddy’s car. We
urgently tried to get her to testify, and whilst at first
she was willing, eventually she ran from the idea, even
frustrating our efforts to serve her with a subpoena.
The Murder Weapon
Independent testimony established that the rifle in
evidence was not the murder weapon.
Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown took the stand under
subpoena to share his particular knowledge of the rifle
evidence. I qualified Judge Brown as a ballistics expert for
the purpose of his testimony about the weapon, and as he
moved through his testimony, his expertise was never in
doubt. He began by telling the jury that the scope on the
rifle had never been sighted, in which meant that one could
not fire it accurately when lining up a target through the
scope. We introduced an April 5, 1968 FBI report, which
stated that the rifle, on the day after the killing, had
failed an accuracy test – firing 3 ½ inches to the left and
4 inches below the target. In addition, he said that the
metallurgical composition of the death slug lead was
different from the composition of the other bullets found in
the evidence bundle in front of Canipes while the
composition of each of the other bullets matched. He had no
doubt the rifle in evidence was not the murder weapon.
In a startling development, Bill Hamblin, deceased taxi
driver McCraw’s house mate/roommate for 15 years, took the
stand and testified that for those 15 years, spanning the
1970’s and early 1980’s, McCraw had consistently told him
(but only when he was intoxicated) that on the morning after
the shooting (April 5) Jowers not only showed him the rifle
that killed Martin Luther King but told him to get rid of
it. McCraw said that he drove on to the Memphis Arkansas
Bridge (Route 55) and threw it off. In his deposition taken
years earlier, McCraw had only gone so far as to say that
Jowers had shown him the actual murder weapon on the morning
after the killing. If we are to believe that testimony and
there is no reason for Hamblin to lie, then the actual
murder weapon of Dr. King has been enmired in the silt of
the Mississippi river for 32 years. Hamblin testified that
McCraw would never discuss the subject when he was sober and
that when he did talk about it, the details were always the
Hamblin also testified that on one occasion when he and
McCraw were renting rooms in a house on Peabody, owned by an
FBI agent, named Purdy, he told the FBI landlord that he
should talk to McCraw sometime because he had information
about the killing of Dr. King. Promptly, after that
conversation, he said, they were given their eviction
notices, and during the 30-day grace period, the MPD
harassed them on a number of occasions.
At the time of the assassination, Bill Hamblin was
working in Memphis barbershop – the Cherokee barbershop and
his boss was Vernon Jones. Mr. Jones just happened to have
as a client the same FBI agent Purdy who some years later
would become Hamblin’s and McCraw’s landlord. The agent had
apparently been having his hair cut by Mr. Jones for upwards
of 10 years, and so they had a long-standing relationship.
Hamblin testified that the agent came in for a haircut
within two weeks after the killing, and after he had
finished, as the agent was about to leave, Hamblin’s boss
pulled him aside and within earshot asked him who killed
King. Hamblin said he did not hear the soft-spoken reply,
but he asked his boss about the answer and was told “he said
the C.I.A. ordered it done.
Birmingham, Alabama Probate Court Judge Arthur Hanes Jr.,
who, along with his father, was James Earl Ray’s first
lawyer, testified that in his preparation for trial, that
they had no doubt would result in James Earl Ray’s
acquittal, he had interviewed Guy Canipe in the doorway of
whose store the bundle of evidence including the evidence
rifle was dropped. He said that Canipe told him in no
uncertain terms that the rifle was dropped about 10 minutes
before the shot was fired so it obviously could not have
been the murder weapon. Judge Hanes testified that Canipe
was prepared to testify for the defense at the trial.
Washington D.C. Attorney, James Lesar, who specializes in
Freedom of Information Act legal actions, testified that in
one such application, he obtained an FBI report concerning
tests that they had conducted on the bathroom window sill
or, more specifically, on a dent in the window sill which
they suspected might haven been caused by the assassin
resting or pressing the barrel on the old wooden sill.
Though a prosecutor had alleged to the contrary before the
guilty plea jury on March 10, 1969, we introduced into
evidence the actual report issued by the laboratory in
April, 1968. It stated that it would not be possible to tie
the dent in the windowsill to the rifle in evidence.
In their testimonies, Dexter King and Andy Young said
that the defendant himself had made it clear that the murder
weapon was not the rifle in evidence, but the one he took
from the shooter. Jowers also told them that he had tried to
flush the spent shell down his toilet, but it stopped it up,
and he had to remove it. The Mississippi River became its
final resting place as well.
We explored the possibility of recovering the rifle form
the river but gave up the idea when we learned that a train
locomotive, tanks, barges, and cars had been lost in the
enormous deep silt bottom, which was stirred continually by
a strong current. It was frustrating to have to accept that
even though we knew the location of the murder weapon, we
would not be able to recover it. This disappointment,
however, was alleviated by the realization that we had
demonstrated through clear and convincing evidence that the
rifle purchased by James, as instructed, was not the murder
Memphis private investigator John Billings provided the
background information of how a photograph of the man we had
come to know as Raul was obtained. Ironically he said, a
Memphis Police Department officer, who had been assigned to
the District Attorney General’s task force, had obtained the
Immigration and Naturalization Service photograph and turned
it over to them in an effort to convince them that he was
willing to cooperate and work with them in the search for
the truth. Eventually, they learned that nothing could have
been further from his true intentions, but, in the short run
at least, it gave them the photograph taken in 1961 when he
emigrated to the United States from Portugal. Billing’s
colleague Ken Herman organized a spread of six photographs
for exhibiting to witnesses. Billings testified that, in his
presence, when he placed the spread in front of him, James
Earl Ray readily identified the man in the spread (who we
knew to be Raul) as being the person who had controlled his
movements and given him money and who he had come to know as
Raul. As mentioned earlier, James had seen the same
photograph in 1978 and, at that time, identified it (with
some media coverage), so this was not a surprising
Glenda Grabow had earlier, consistently identified the
man in the photograph as the person, who she had known in
Houston from 1963 onward and who, in or around 1974, in a
fit of rage implicated himself in the assassination of Dr.
King just before he raped her.
At the time of the trial, Glenda had injured ribs in an
automobile accident and was suffering from internal bleeding
preventing her from testifying. Husband Roy testified
instead and confirmed that he had been present when she gave
her earlier affidavit statements. Thus, the jury had access
to Glenda’s story including the details about her
relationship with Percy Foreman, his admission that James
Earl Ray, though innocent, had to be sacrificed and the fact
that Foreman knew – or so he said – Raul.
After Roy confirmed its authenticity, I introduced into
evidence a telephone bill for their home telephone which
showed on April 20, 1996, a six minute telephone call to
Raul’s home telephone number. Under questioning, Roy stated
that Glenda would not have stayed on the phone for six
minutes with this person unless he was known to her. It is
hard to imagine anyone keeping a conversation going with a
complete stranger for that period of time.
Glenda had some time previously provided me with notes of
her conversation with Raul, written, however, after the
conversation. Whilst I believe them to be an accurate
account of the conversation, I did not think that in
Glenda’s absence, we should attempt to enter them into
evidence. It is useful however to see them in the context of
Raul’s denials about even knowing Glenda. The conversation
went as follows:
Glenda: This is Glenda Grabow
Glenda: Yes. I was just calling to tell
you I was supposed to come to New York.
Raul: Where you at?
Glenda: When I come to New York, I will
Glenda: I still don’t know yet when. You
sell wine now?
Glenda: Do you still deal in guns?
Raul: Ya, I still deal in lots of guns.
Glenda: You do?
Glenda: Have you heard from Jack Valenti
Raul: No, not for long time. Why you
want to know? Why you call me?
Glenda: I will try and talk to you when
I get there.
Raul: OK. O ya.
Glenda: I heard your daughter was
Raul: Ya, she get married. How many you
Glenda: I just have the two girls and
they are grown now. Time flies. Well I will call back later.
When is the best time to call?
Raul: My wife get here, or (leave here)
Glenda: OK, I will call you when I get
Glenda’s brother, Royce Wilburn, an electrical contractor
from Nashville, Tennessee, who had not discussed the case or
his testimony with his sister, testified that the man, he
knew as “Dago” and whose photograph he picked out of the
spread, did indeed hang out, off and on, at a gas station
near their home in Houston. He confirmed that his sister and
he used to see and talk with the man because the gas
station, where he hung out, was between their home and
British merchant seaman Sid Carthew, in a telephone
deposition described how he had met Raul – whom he had under
oath previously identified from the spread of photographs –
late in the summer of 1967, in the Neptune Bar on West
Commissioners Street in the Montreal docks area. At that
time, he said Raul appeared to be with another person who
may well have been James Earl Ray. Carthew said at one point
Raul came over and introduced himself (as Raul). Sid, who
was identified with the British nationalists, said that the
Neptune was a regular haunt of his and his mates when they
came ashore following days at sea on the voyage from
Liverpool. Someone in the bar must have told Raul about his
politics because eventually the conversation came around to
the question of whether Sid might want to buy some guns. Sid
said he expressed interest, and they began to negotiate.
Raul said that their guns were new army (US) issue, and the
price reflected the money that had to be paid to a sergeant
who was organizing the supply. (To my mind, this matched
Warren’s earlier account of guns being taken from Camp
Shelby or other military installations, trucked to New
Orleans, and delivered to Carlos Marcello who organized the
sales, with, according to Glenda Grabow, deliveries from
The negotiations broke down, and the deal fell apart
according to Sid over the quantity. They were discussing the
purchase of 9MM pistols. Sid said he would take four. Raul
asked him how he was going to get them home. Sid, thinking
about four pistols, said he would put them in his pockets or
in a carrier bag. Raul, thinking of four boxes, suddenly
realized that this was not the deal he thought it was and
exploded in disappointment. From that day to this, Sid
remembers those details and Raul’s face.
Former UK Thames television producer, Jack Saltman, who
had produced the 1993 Thames/HBO television trial of James
Earl Ray, took the stand to testify that after the trial,
when convinced that an egregious injustice had been done, he
continued some investigating efforts on his own. He
particularly focused on Raul. At one point, he took the
spread of photographs to Raul’s front door. The jury heard
the tape-recorded exchange between Saltman and Raul’s
daughter who was on the other side of the door. They heard
her admit that the photograph was indeed of her father. Her
words were effectively that “… anyone could get that picture
of my father.” It was a startling admission for now Raul’s
own daughter had joined the ranks of all of the others, who
had confirmed that the critical photographic evidence was
indeed her father.
Both Dexter King and Ambassador Young testified that the
defendant Loyd Jowers had unhesitatingly identified the
photograph as being that of the man who appeared in his
grill to pick up the Liberto cash and leave the murder
weapon a “package” for the actual assassin.
Barbara Reis was very uncomfortable on the stand.
Reporters do not like to have to testify in court. She is
the primary US correspondent of Publico the largest
newspaper in Portugal, and because Raul was Portuguese, her
paper was interested in the story. She was covering the
trial and in attendance in court almost every day for the
first two weeks. Some time earlier, however, she had gone to
Raul’s home and spoke with a member of his family ( who we
agreed not to identify ) and that was why we believed that
we had no choice but to issue a subpoena for her testimony.
She was outraged, but I believed that her evidence was too
valuable not to be put in front of the jury. So under oath,
she reluctantly recounted what she had been told during the
course of that interview.
She said that she was informed that though these
allegations had greatly disrupted their lives and were
terrible, nevertheless the family took great comfort from
the fact that they were being protected and advised by
government agents who had visited their home on three
occasions and who were monitoring their telephones. The
government was helping them through those difficult days.
The fact that government was helping a retired automobile
worker in such a fashion was not lost on the members of the
jury. We could see them thinking – what is this all about?
Everyone knows full well that the government does not become
involved in such fashion on behalf of ordinary citizens.
There clearly was something special about this person; some
very good reason for the government to extend itself to such
an extent. Ordinary private citizens are obviously not
afforded these services. It is our contention, of course,
that he was and will continue to be protected for services
rendered to the national security interests of the state.
Don Wilson’s resolve hardened, and he refused to testify
at the trial, but his evidence was too important not to be
placed before the jury. Early on, Don had told Dexter King
about the events and given him copies of two of the pieces
of paper he took away from James’s abandoned Mustang. Dexter
was, therefore, in a position to identify the materials, the
originals of which had been with the Justice Department
going through a process of authentication for several
months. In the course of his testimony, Dexter recounted how
Don Wilson originally explained how/when he opened the
slightly a jar passenger door of James’s car, an envelope
fell on the ground, and he instinctively put his foot on it,
bent over, picked it up, and put it in his pocket. The young
agent was initially afraid that he had screwed up material
criminal evidence by allowing it to become separated from
the automobile possibly connected with a crime. Later, when
he had an opportunity to consider the materials, he decided
to hold on to them in part, no doubt, because he was in a
difficult, if not impossible, position, for not having
turned them in straight away and also because he genuinely
came to believe that the notes would be buried if he turned
them over to his superiors at the Atlanta Field Office. So
he retained them – for nearly 30 years, until he decided to
come forward in an effort to support the King family and
James Earl Ray.
The material – see Figs. # and , did in fact contain the
name Raul as well as a list of what appeared to be a list of
payments to be made. When shown a true copy of the torn page
from a Dallas telephone directory with handwriting at the
top, in his testimony, Dexter King identified the name Raul
as he did for a second time on the payoff list.
There was also written at the top of the telephone
directory page (which contained the listings of the family
of H. L. Hunt) the letter “R” preceding a telephone number.
As discussed earlier, when I learned that the phone number
belonged to the Vegas Club owed by Jack Ruby pointing to a
connection between Raul and Ruby, I went to Dallas to find
and interview some of Jack Ruby’s strippers as well as
Madeleine Brown – Lyndon Johnson’s mistress of 21 years. I
saw Beverly Oliver, Chari Angel, and Madeleine Brown
separately. In each instance, I placed the photographic
spread in front of them and each time without hesitation,
Raul was identified as a person seen in the company of Jack
Ruby in 1963, usually at the Carousel, Ruby’s other Dallas
Club. Beverly Oliver said that on one occasion, she
remembered Raul giving Ruby $20,000 in a Piggley Wiggley
grocery store bag.
Glenda Grabow’s story about the connection between Raul
and Ruby had, in my view, been corroborated, but I
eventually decided against introducing evidence this
connection and the link to the Kennedy assassination. I did
not want to run the risk of taking the jury down that road.
It was, after all, surplusage to our main case, and there
was always the possibility that the jury would refuse to
accept the connection with the Kennedy assassination, and
then begin to question the primary pillars of our evidence.
I had Madeleine, Beverly, and Chari lined up to travel to
Memphis and then did not call them. It was a temptation,
which had to be resisted, but it was not easy because I
believed these courageous women. Madelein Brown for example
is very credible, and some aspect of her recollections of
her life and genuine love for Johnson were compelling. The
fact, that she gave birth to his only son I have seen and
obtained a copy of Johnson’s commitment (through has local
lawyer Jerome Ragsdale) to provide support for his son
Steven which continued even after the President’s death).
That she was able to provide such detail about their
relationship, was impressive. Of particular note was her
recollection of the events of Thursday evening November 21,
1963 – the night before the assassination. She said she
attended a social gathering at Clint Murchison’s home.
Ostensibly, it was an event to honor J. Edgar Hoover who was
a close friend of Murchison, H. L. Hunt and the other Texas
oil giants. The guest list included John McCloy, Chairman of
Chase Manhattan Bank, Richard Nixon, George Brown, of the
Brown and Root Construction company, R. L. Thornton,
President of the Mercantile Bank, and Dallas Mayor Earle
Cabell, brother of General Charles Cabell, former Deputy
Director of the CIA who was fired by President Kennedy after
the Bay of Pigs.
Madeleine told me that near the end of the party, Johnson
made an appearance and the group quickly went into
Murchison’s study behind closed doors. After a while, the
meeting broke up, Johnson anxious and red faced came up,
embraced her, and with a quiet grating sound, whispered a
message, she would never forget, in her ear. “After
tomorrow, those goddamn Kennedys will never embarrass me
again – that’s no threat, that’s a promise. She was stunned,
but the next day she realized what he meant.
I decided not to take our case in this direction. It was
tactical decision but, if, however, I am asked whether I
believe that Raul and Ruby knew each other, were associates,
and that the same forces were involved with both
assassinations, I could only truthfully answer in the
The Broader Conspiracy
We next turned to present the evidence that the
conspiracy to kill Martin Luther King Jr. extended well
beyond Memphis, Tennessee and, in fact, reached into the
echelons of power in the nation’s capitol.
Former Memphis Police Intelligence Officer, Jim Smith
took the stand under subpoena. His testimony at the
television trial resulted in him losing his security
clearance, being put under surveillance, and eventually,
being in fear for his life, leaving Memphis only to find
that the FBI had permanently blocked him from ever again
obtaining a position in law enforcement. Now six years
later, he returned to Memphis having been transferred there
in another line of work when an opening arose. He was uneasy
and not willing to testify unless subpoenaed. We served him.
He basically restated his earlier testimony that on March
18, 1968 he was assigned to assist a two men surveillance
team parked in a van in the area of the Rivermont Hotel. The
van contained audio surveillance equipment and the two
agents – he did not know which federal agency they were
from. I had earlier concluded that they were Army Security
Agency Operatives and that they listened in on conversations
and activities in the suite occupied by Martin King. He did
not, himself directly, participate in any of the
surveillance but he observed it and understood what was
going on. Back in 1992, I had been able to obtain a detailed
description of the location of the microphone placements in
the suite. It was so extensive that even if Dr. King went on
to the balcony his conversation would be relayed to the tape
recorders in the van below. In addition to the covert (non
eye to eye) surveillance activities of the ASA agents, the
court heard testimony from defense witness Eli Arkin, the
MPD intelligence officer – that the 111th M.I.G. was on the
scene conducting its own surveillance activities. He said
that some of them were based in his office.
Military historian Doug Valentine, whose book The Phoenix
Program included a mention of a rumor that photographs of
the assassination were taken by army photographers, arousing
my interest, took the stand to testify about the military
affiliation of the man who provided the Memphis Police with
the false assassination threat against Detective Redditt,
justifying his removal from the surveillance detail at the
rear of the fire station. Valentine said that when he
interviewed the individual, Phillip Manuel, (who had been in
Memphis on April 3 and 4, ostensibly pursuant to his
position as a staff member of the McClellan committee) he
learned that Manuel previously – and perhaps then as well –
worked with the 902nd MIG. I had gradually come to believe
that this little known unit coordinated the federal agency
task force activity in Memphis and also liaised with the non
military side of the operation.
Carthel Weeden, the former Fire Department Captain in
charge of Fire Station number 2, testified in detail about
how in the morning, of April 4, he was approached by two men
in Civilian clothers who showed him army credentials and
asked to be taken up to the roof of the fire station where
they would be in a position to photograph people and
activity in the area. Though Carthel was not certain exactly
how he carried them up to the roof, it must have been up the
outside iron ladder which at the time was attached to the
north side of the building near the side door and the fire
hose tower. He said that he observed them taking their
photographic equipment out of their bag. Carthel testified
that he did not notice them again during that day and he
just assumed that completed their various tasks. Carthel
also testified that he had never been interviewed any local,
state, or federal law enforcement official. The reason for
this is obvious. Had he been interviewed, it is quite likely
that the investigators would have become aware of the
soldiers on the roof. They would then have the obligation to
locate them and the photographs they took. This, of course,
would be the path that any serious investigation would have
to take. It would be anathema to those efforts which were
only set up to conceal the truth for from all we understood
as a result of meetings between Steve Tompkins and the
photographers the actual assassin was caught on film
powering the rifle right after firing the fatal shot.
In his testimony, Professor Clay Carson read into the
record portions of documents which I had provided to the
King Papers Project, which he directs, at Stanford
University. One of the documents was a report from Steve
Tompkins prepared for me after a meeting at the Hyatt Hotel
in Chicago with one of the photographers. Amongst other
details was the photographer’s confirmation that the
assassin was caught on film and that it was not James Earl
Professor Carson, also read the responses to questions I
had asked Steve Tompkins to raise with the Green Beret I had
referred to as Warren. The exchange, on the record went like
By Dr. Pepper
Q. Dr. Carson, good afternoon - - barely
afternoon. Thank you for joining us here. You’re come some
three thousand miles, and I know that time is precious in
terms of your schedule, so I’d like to just move ahead.
Would you please state your full name and address for the
A. Clayborne Carson, Palo Alto,
Q. And what is your profession?
A. I’m a professor of history at
Q. And what do you - - what is your
relationship to the works and life of Martin Luther King,
A. I’m the editor of Martin Luther
King’s papers, and I’m director of the Martin Luther King
papers project at Stanford.
Q. And how long have you been in that
A. Fifteen years.
Q. And have you published various works
on Doctor King’s work and life?
A. Yes, I have. I’ve published, I think,
edited or authored five - - I think five books on Martin
Q. All right. And is the King papers
project at Stanford University an ongoing project?
A. Yes, it is. It’s a long-term project
to publish all of the historically significant papers of
Martin Luther King. It’s been going on for fifteen years. It
will probably go on as long as I go on.
Q. And in your capacity and as part of
that project at Stanford, do you have the process of
collecting documents and materials of all sorts of natures
related to Doctor King’s life, work and death even?
A. Yes, sir. The purpose of the paper is
- - papers project is to assemble all of the historically
significant papers from archives around the world. We’ve
contacted probably some two hundred or more archieves to
make sure that we have all of the historically significant
papers. Obviously, the largest collections are those at the
King Center in Atlanta and at Boston University.
Q. Right. And as a part of that
responsibility, did you receive from me certain documents,
certain reports with respect to the assassination of Martin
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And it should be clear to the Court
and Jury that you are not in any way involved in attesting
to the accuracy or the validity of this informaion, but you
are simply reporting on what it is that you have received;
is that correct?
A. That’s right.
Q. So we’re asking you to do that in a
professional capacity and in line with your role as editor
and director of the King papers project.
With that background, Professor Carson, I’d like you to
move, please, to the first set of responses in the
documentation that I’ve provided to you and of the project
that I addressed to a resource who was traveling and
providing me with information.
The Court and Jury have become aware with how that process
worked so we just need to go into a question and answer mode
On Page 2 of - - well, on Page 2 of the questions and
whatever page of the response, I’d ask you to turn to
Paragraph 2.1.4, and the question that was asked to be
answered was: Was the operation, in re, our target, a one
op, or were there other similar operations? If others, any
details possible. Please, at least learn if they were
domestic, foreign or both.
What is the answer that you have?
A. Answer: Lots of other ops nationwide.
These are the ones I was at, summer of 1967 - - parentheses,
June 12th through 15th, 1967 - - Tampa, Florida. Two Alpha
teams deployed during riots. Detroit, summer, July 23rd,
riot. Washington, October 1967, riot. Chicago, just before
Christmas, 1967, recon. February 1968, Los Angeles.
Q. Thank you. Question 2.1.5: When was
the instant operation? The instant operation is the Memphis
operation against Martin Luther King. When was the instant
operation first raised with him, that is, the source. A,
where and by whom? Answer.
A. Answer: Date unknown. Place, Camp
Shelby, Mississippi. Briefed by Captain Name. First, a
recon-op - - not sure when killing King first mentioned.
Q. What - - 2.1.6: What were the first
details of the operation scenario put to him? A: Was target
A. Yes, King. Another answer.
Q. Yes. Please continue.
A. Young added later.
Q. First answer, King. Young added
B: What was site:
A. Site not set. Depended on our intel
and recon. We positioned at rooftop ascent across Lorraine
motel about 1300 hours, 4 April. Don’t know why or how intel
At brief, 0430, reminded Doctor King was the leader of a
movement to destroy American government and stop the war. We
were shown CR, close range photos, of King and Young. Don’t
know - - don’t remember anyone worrying about killing those
sacks of shit.
One but - - buddy on Team 1, remember bragged about him,
had him in center mass, parentheses, this is a sniper term
meaning cross hairs and center of chest. During that big
March in Alabama, should have done it then.
Parentheses, Bill, I did some checking from my files.
There is a John Hill listed among the 20th special forces
teams that was deployed in Selma, Alabama in 1965 for the
beginning of the march to Montgomery.
I interviewed two of the team members who were there, and
they said a sniper team had King in their scope until he
turned left and crossed the bridge. This may be the same
Hill on main team. None of the other names match.
Another Name - - parentheses, that’s me - - asked about
clothes. We were dressed as working stiffs working on the
docks. Parentheses, I believe this means their cover was day
laborers on President’s Island where the riverboat barge and
the warehouses are located, end parentheses.
Equipment was stored in suitcases, moved along, came up
in cars from Camp Shelby. Only place I remember eating in
Memphis was a Howard Johnson’s.
My spotter and I were met by a Name down near the train
tracks where we were let out. I remembered this guy because
he looked a lot like a buddy - - parentheses, buddy of mine.
This guy got us to the building where we set up. I always
figured he was a spook.
From him, we got a detailed AO - - parentheses, area of
operations map - - not the kind you’d buy in a gas station,
pictures of cars the King group were driving, and the guy
got us to the building where we set up. I always figured he
was a spook.
From him, we got a detailed AO - - parentheses, area of
operations map - - not the kind you’d buy in a gas station,
pictures of the cars the King group was driving and the
Memphis police tact - - parentheses, tactical radio
frequencies. Maybe some other stuff, I just don’t remember.
Q. C: Any explanation of reason?
A. Name gave none.
Q. D: Any indication of sanction by or
involvement of others, one at federal, state or local
A. Everybody but my brother was there.
Spooks, the company - - parentheses, CIA - - Feebs - -
parentheses, FBI - - police, you name it. The only person I
remember talking to besides CO, Name, was some guy who was
the head of the city - - parentheses, Memphis tact
parentheses - - tactical squad. I think his first name was
Sam. Name put him on radio to describe to us what was in
that hotel - - parentheses, Lorraine. I do remember he
saying friendlies would not be wearing ties. Took that to
mean that somebody inside the King group as informant. Did
meet in person one other guy. Met him on sidewalk down
couple blocks from our perch. Directed by Name. This guy
identified himself with the police intelligence. Said city
was about to explode, and blacks would be murdering whites
in the streets. After a few minutes, I figured was asking me
to sit tight and kill any rioters if things went to hell. He
seemed to know something about us and said had met with Name
before this day.
Q. E: Was operation pure military, any
involvement of FBI, state police, local sheriff’s, poster
police, civilians, anyone in targets organization?
A. Our part military. Far as I know, we
were coordinating with units at NAS. This would be
Millington Naval Air Station.
Q. Okay. Move over to the response to
Question 3, please. Was he aware of any support from inside
Doctor King’s organization, SCLC, or inside the local
Memphis groups working with Doctor King? Details and names
A. Scuttlebutt was 111th - -
parentheses, military intelligence group out of Fort
McPherson - - had guy inside King’s group.
Q. Moving to Number 7. Did he actually
see anything at the time of the shooting? Where was he
A. I thought Team 1 had fired early. I
guess I still think they may have. After that day, I only
saw Captain Name twice more, and both times, he refused to
talk to me about what happened. After the shot, I keyed - -
parentheses, radioed - - CO to ask for instructions, and
after a wait - - parentheses, I think this means Name told
him to wait - - was told to exit building and make our way
to pick-up point. If this helps, I heard a lot of gunfire,
and I think remembering - - I remember thinking it was an
Army sniper shot. It surprised me later when I heard some
wacko civilian had done it. Name described the shooting to
me, and let me tell you this. Whoever fired that shot was a
professional. Even from three hundred meters, there’s no way
just anyone could make that shot.
Q. Eight: If the military unit did it,
how does he explain the head shot, and their not waiting for
the coordinated hits from the second target, A-Y, Andrew
A. When you have everybody’s hands in
someone’s pants, it’s a cluster fuck. That’s what happened
in Nam - - what happened here.
Q. What kind of weapons were they
A. Standard forty-five caliber sidearms,
M-16 sniper rifles and some K-bars - - parentheses, this is
a military knife. We also had some frags - - parentheses,
fragmentation grenades - - and two or three laws, light
anti-air - - anti tank weapon rockets.
Q. Ten: How did the two teams
communicate with each other? When was the last contact prior
to the killing?
A. By radio. The shot was fired just
after the TTR - - parentheses, top of the hour I guess this
means, 1800, end parentheses - - sit rep - - parentheses,
Q. Eleven: Set out details of their
exiting Memphis, how - - where they went.
A. Exit by foot to waiting boat.
Q. Finishes the first section. Now the
second - - second series of questions and answers. We’ll
just move through these. Number 1: Where was Young?
A. Best I remember, a bunch of them had
been upstairs. My spotter got Young when they all left. He
went downstairs. He had come out of his room below and
looked like to me was heading for the - - a car when the
shot was fired. We were must getting ready to do the sit
rep. He was definitely out of his room.
Q. Second page, 2.15 and 2.16: What was
the nature of the training - - real purpose training?
A. This was a recon, slash, surveillance
mission to support major Army element at Millington and
possible deployment of other heavy units, dash, one of the
dozens in cities with large black populations. We were
walking the ground literally. We would walk city streets to
identify possible sniper and ambush sites, anything that
would help the guys coming into a riot to survive. Target
reduction - - parentheses, Bill, he means killing Young and
King, end parentheses - - was discussed as a option should
the situation go in the toilet, and we had a riot on our
hands in the AO - - parentheses, area of operations. Then
and only then was that option briefed. You need to talk to
him - - parentheses, he’s referring here to you, end
parentheses - - about how a military mission is done.
Logistics, intelligence, communications which make up
seven-eighths of a mission. What I’m saying is that target
reduction was brief, but we had to get to a riot before it
was authorized on the net.
Do you want me to go on?
A. Here NAME digressed into an argument
over radios. Said team had PRC 77’s unreliable. Out of - -
on that roof that evening, we were watching. I had Young
targeted, but only to watch.
Q. Then moving down - - Bill, I asked
here about the psychological warfare photo recon stuff at
this point. Continue.
A. Big psy-ops (phonetic) plan to
discredit King and his party using any means at hand. We
weren’t told much about this, but, again, SOP with fifth
special forces was psy-ops included and everything.
M-A-C-V-S-O-G had long time begged into this. We call this,
quote, gray operations and spreading propagenda to
newspapers and radio stations. This was done a lot against
black pot-heads. I wasn’t involved in this, but I kept my
ears open, and this was a big push. Any intel we picked up
to help this effort out was passed back up the chain. Not
sure about reserved element of psy-ops. Most guys in Nam I
knew worked for the fourth psy-ops group at Teng Sau Nu. I
know there they ran their own newspaper, radio and TV
Q. Yes. 2.1.7: When was Memphis first
A. Not sure. Original brief of twentieth
recon operations including - - included Memphis among cities
where possible rioting was possible at Camp - - Camp
Landing. Parentheses, Bill, this is in Florida, end
parentheses. Memphis was scouted 22 February by Alpha team
for sniper communications and supply sites. We had a lot of
stuff going in, but previous recon produced a lot more.
What we were doing is similar to Nam. Maps, terrain studies,
readouts of infrared imagery from aerial recon blackbirds -
- parentheses, Bill, he’s referring to SR 71 blackbird over
flights of Memphis and other potential riot cities, this
mentioned in my series, end parentheses - - and anything
else we could find, which we shipped to S2 and Nam Trang.
Here we shipped to Camp Shelby S2. Where intel went from
there, I’m not sure.
Q. 2.1.8: Who was in charge of training?
A. NAME Captain.
Q. How long was the training period?
A. Can’t remember. Too long ago. Too
many missions before and after.
Q. During training - - 2.1.13: During
training, who were you told were targets?
A. We were told these were recon
missions whose purpose was to reverse the cluster fuck in
Detroit where our guys didn’t even have maps of city
streets. Our mission was to walk the ground before the
heavies - - parentheses, Bill, means tanks and APCs here - -
got there. Training was entirely based on identifying
communications links, supply sites, places where troops
could be quickly and safely inserted where the black
community was, where black churches were, where black
leaders congregated - - parentheses, restaurants, churches.
Q. 2.1.14: Other members of team
involved other sites.
A. Worked with Captain Name in Tampa.
Q. 2.1.15. Were all those 9 – 0 second
A. Don’t know and don’t care. What I
know is this. You start asking a lot of questions about the
9 – 0 second - - he pronounced ninety-deuce - - you’d better
be digging a deep hole.
Parentheses, Bill, he was very reluctant to discuss 9 – 0
second. I tried several times in this interview to broach
subject. He refused to.
Q. 2.1.16: Who controlled training and
A. Team leader and his exec. control.
Q. 3.2: Who was on the February 22nd
Memphis recon mission?
A. I was on it. Will give other names if
agreed they not be made public.
Q. 3.3: Did entire unit go together to
Memphis on 4 April or separate? Explain.
A. No. We went in separate cars in
Q. 3.4: What time leave Camp Shelby for
A. Don’t remember.
Q. 3.8: You’re referring to this Name
fellow - - I’m sorry. 3.8: Who did spook on ground work for?
A. You’re referring to this Name fellow
who met us down by railroad yards. Guy smelled like a
company guy. We had maps, but this guy gave us a detailed
map of the AO - - parentheses, area of operations - - not a
regular service station map. This was like a grid map you
got in the field with street and building names.
>Anyway, this Name, I think it was James reminded me of a
friend. I got no proof though, but he was definitely a
Q. 3.9: Details of conversation.
A. You got to be kidding. We just talked
about the current situation, our location and radio net.
Q. And then questions 3.9 to 3.14.1: No
A. parentheses, Bill, these questions,
he simply could not remember.
Q. That finishes the second section.
Lastly, Professor Carson, you have a one-page report of a
meeting that took place in Chicago, also at plaintiffs’
counsel’s request, having to do with the location of some
photographers on the roof of the fire station in Memphis.
Would you read that report, please.
A. Trip to meet NAME, 1 December, 1994,
Chicago. Location, Hyatt Regency, downtown off Michigan
Avenue. Breakfast, slash, lunchroom off of lobby.
Description, about five-feet-ten inches, one-sixty to
one-seventy pounds. Gray, short chopped hair, nice suit - -
parentheses, Brook Brothers style - - wing tipped shoes,
erect, obviously ex military. Said in Vietnam assigned first
SOG - - parentheses, special operation group - - base, Kan
Tu, worked 525th psychological operations battalion. Refused
to discuss place of birth, date of birth or other personal
info. April 3, 4 weekend, 9-0 second operation. New Colonel
Name, worked with him number of assignments. Two agents in
Memphis day of killing. Therefore, routine photogs and
surveillance copied to Name and Name - -
A. - - believed distributed to other
agencies. Idea to pick up anyone in photos, might be
identified as communist or national security threat - - such
H-U-M-I-N-T-S-O-P in King’s surveillance. When King came out
on balcony, camera was filming. No photo moment King shot,
but several of him falling. Second guy with Name watched
approaching cars, heard shot and saw white man with rifle.
Quickly snapped his picture several times as this guy left
scene. Shooter was on the ground clearly visible. Name
witnessed only his back as left scene. Said never got a
visual face ID. Name and second guy rooftop of fire station,
both armed with forty-five caliber automatics. Second guy
carried small revolver in hlster, small of back. Pictures
hand delivered to Colonel Name, but second guy with Name
kept negatives. Name has no copies. Said will approach
second guy for two thousand dollars, give us name and
DR. PEPPER: Thank you very much,
Professor Carson. There is a final document, which is a
choronology of important dates, that has been provided to us
from January 17, 1967 to the 4th of April listing dates,
times and places and subjects of meetings that took place in
government agencies throughout that entire year. We’re not
going to go through that here, but I am going to close that
and move that that be admitted as a part of the total
package of evidence.
Thank you for coming, and no further questions.
Thus, for the first time a jury heard the details of the
investigative process Steve Tompkins and I employed in order
to reveal the presence and the role of the eight man Alpha
184 unit in Memphis on April 4, 1968. It became abundantly
clear that the team did not carry out the assassination but
were in fact in position to do. Steve had always maintained
that they were only going to be ordered to shoot in the
event of a riot. As mentioned earlier that never made any
sense to me, given the apparent absence of any possible riot
at the time in the area of the Lorraine. However, the
testimony of Invader Charles Cabbage made that possibility
of violence breaking out late that afternoon, all too real.
Cabbage acknowledged that the members of his group, who
occupied two balcony rooms just south of Dr. King’s room,
were armed. When ordered to leave the hotel, shortly before
the assassination (actually leaving within 11 minutes of the
event) the Invaders might well have been expected to react
violently disrupting the surface calm of the motel. If
instead of leaving peacefully, the Invaders had reacted
violently that could have created the required circumstances
and cover for any military action deemed necessary. In the
event the Invaders left peacefully and the killing was not
carried out by the army snipers who were ordered to withdraw
from their position promptly after the shooting. They left
the city immediately.
Covert operative Jack Terrell who previously I had
referred to as “Carson” desperately wanted to testify in
person but his liver cancer became worse and he was not
allowed to travel. We had to use his video deposition taken
in Orlando, Florida on February 7, 1999. It stunned the
court. After describing his previous covert activities on
behalf of the Government he described his close friendship
with the 20th SFG green beret J. D. Hill who he came to know
in Columbus, Mississippi. He said that J. D. would train for
two weeks every summer at Shelby with his unit and that he
used to return in excellent physical condition. He said that
on one such occasion in 1975 J. D. seemed to want to
unburden himself. It was then that he began to spell out the
details of a mission for which he trained and which was to
be carried out in Memphis. He said that his unit had trained
for a considerable period of time to carry out an
assassination against a target or targets who were to be in
a moving automobile. He said that snipers were placed high
above and a considerable distance away from the target
vehicle. They were not told who was the target but suspected
it might have been an Arab.
On April 4, Jack said that J. D. told him that he and his
unit set out for Memphis, still not aware of who the target
was to be. It is at this point that a whether or not it was
a function of the progressively worsening of the disease
affecting his recollection of detail, I am uncertain. In my
first session with Jack in 1994, he had indicated that J. D.
told him that the team was already in Memphis and had been
on three occasions, in position – similar to Warren’s
version – when they were told to withdraw. The discrepancy
arose between his deposition account and the statement he
originally gave to me in 1994. There, in fact, may be no
discrepancy, at all. In his earlier account it was clear
that the unit was staying somewhere in the area but outside
of Memphis. They would travel to town and take up their
positions – water tower, building roof, and window – and
then leave at the end of the day. It may well be that when
he testified that they were en route to Memphis when told to
withdraw he was referring to the last trip in on April 4.
When he heard about the assassination J. D. told Jack that
his initial reaction was that another team was also involved
and his unit did not get the call. What is incontrovertible,
however, is that J. D. Hill was a member of a unit which
trained to carry out an assassination on American soil and
the event was to take place in Memphis, Tennessee on or
around April 4, 1968.
When, shortly afterward J. D. learned that Dr. King had
been assassinated on the day of their mission, he realized
that this was his unit’s mission.
Terrell then described the suspicious circumstances of J.
D. ‘s death in 1979 where his wife was alleged – though not
indicted – to have put a neat semi circle of 357 Magnum
bullets in his chest, after he returned home late at night.
He was dead before he hit the floor, and Terrell said it was
impossible for J. D.’s wife who weighted about 90 pounds to
have handled the 357 magnum weapon with such precision.
He next went on to describe the three hour interview he
gave to the ABC Turning Point Program at my request. After
they produced the team leader, who I thought was dead, alive
and well, – though without acknowledging his criminal
conviction for negligent homicide – I believed that
Terrell’s corroboration of the military operation in Memphis
would be helpful. ABC did not use one second of the
interview but soon afterward he began to receive official
calls which led him to believe that his life could be in
danger. He left the country for several months. So, not only
did ABC not use the interview, we came to believe that it
was very possible that they had turned the tape or the
information over to the Government. Terrell maintained that
there was no reasonable excuse for them not using his
interview. In fact, there was every reason for ABC to be
aware of his credibility since he had been previously a
source, interviewed by them on sensitive matters on more
than one occasion. When Jack learned that they had blocked
out his story in its entirety, he decided that he had to
The Cover Up
A large number of witnesses testified to the extensive
range of activities which caused the truth in this case to
remain hidden and justice denied for nearly 32 years.
Incredibly, the chronicle of events and actions included
murder, solicitation of murder, attempted bribing,
suppression of evidence, alternation of the crime scene, and
the control manipulation, and use of the media for
Former taxi driver and security officer Louie Ward
testified about what he learned from the observation of
Yellow taxi cab driver Buddy, who, when picking up passenger
at the Lorraine at the time of shooting, saw a man came down
over the wall, run north on Mulberry Street, get into a
Memphis Police Department traffic car and be driven away.
Louie Ward testified that he heard this account directly
from Buddy, who was driving car number 58 on that day. He
said that Buddy told him this story just before two police
officers arrived and were told the same thing. Later that
evening Ward said he saw a number of MPD cars parked at the
Yellow cab offices. He was certain that they were taking a
statement from Buddy.
Since he was only a part-time driver, Ward said he did
not return to work as a driver for about two weeks. When he
did, he entered the Yellow cab offices, after his first day
behind the wheel and asked, the few people in the lounge
where was “Buddy.” He said he was told that he was dead
having been thrown out of a car on Route 55 – the Memphis –
Arkansas bridge – on the night Martin Luther King Jr. was
assassinated. Ward said he learned that Buddy’s cab No. 58
was found at the Yellow cab offices, and his body was found
the next morning around 10:30 AM.
He said he watched the newspaper for an obituary or death
notices, but there was none.
As noted earlier, Massachusetts Attorney Raymond Kohlman
testified that he had enquired about any death records in
Memphis and the neighboring states and found that there was
no record of the death.
In his pre-trial deposition, the owner of the Yellow cab
company, whose son runs the business today, testified that
he no longer had any records dating back to 1968 and also
that he did not recall hearing about any such incident
involving this driver, who he believed actually left the
company some time before 1968. Many of the drivers had died,
and though we were never able to locate with certainty the
dispatcher on duty that night, one person, who Ward believed
also knew what happened and who may have been the dispatcher
on duty on the evening of April 4, refused to discuss the
matter. This same person apparently came into a substantial
amount of money after the event and bought a very expensive
house, which would have certainly been way beyond his means
as a taxi driver or any apparent family resources.
So, at this writing, we are left only with the unwavering
statement of Louie Ward who concerned about his own safety
and that of his family kept it to himself for a quarter of a
century. He said that he did call John Pierotti at one point
and told him what he knew. He said that Pierotti then Shelby
County District Attorney General gave him short shrift, and
Word said he become so angry that he asked the district
attorney if he was the person driving the police car that
took the shooter away.
We had no doubt that Louie Ward was telling the truth. He
had no reason to come forward at this point in time and lie.
He never asked for anything, and our team concurred
unanimously that he was one of the most credible witnesses
we put before the jury.
The effectiveness of the cover up of this side murder
event, however, was staggering. There was no police report
or statement taken from the driver, in any file, and no
death record or report existed. No driver alive, except
Louie Ward, remembered or was willing to talk about the
incident, although Hamilton Smythe IV the present manager of
the Yellow cab company did acknowledge to Nathan Whitlock
that he heard about such an event, but then quickly said
only his father could comment. The father, Ham Smythe III,
as noted earlier, stated that he did not believe it ever
Alteration Of The Crime Scene
Maynard Stiles, in 1968, was a senior administrator of
the Memphis department of public works. In 1999, he had been
retired for a number of years living outside of the city,
but he readily agreed to testify about what he did early on
the morning of April 5, 1968.
The day after the assassination began for Maynard Stiles
at 7:00 AM when his phone rung. He said MPD inspector Sam
Evans was on the other end of the phone, and he had an
urgent request. He asked Stiles to send a team to completely
clean up the area between the rooming house on South Main
Street. The team would work under police supervision, but
the basic job was to cut the thick brush and bushes to the
ground, rake then into piles so they could be carted away.
Stiles hung up and called Dutch Goodman, who he instructed
to pull a team together. Willie Crawford was recruited along
with some others who began working that morning.
Stiles said that he checked on the progress in late
morning, and he recalls that the job was so extensive that
it took his men more than one day to complete.
So far as he was concerned, he was cooperating with the
police. It was not his job to question the decision to clean
up the area. For all, he knew they were looking for
evidence. In fact, of course, a cardinal rule of criminal
investigation was contravened. An area which was part of the
crime scene was not only not sealed off preventing intrusion
but also a clean up crew was brought in for the express
purpose of drastically altering the entire physical setting
itself so that it could never be examined, considered, and
analyzed as it was at the time of the crime. All traces of
the bushes and brush, which were in place at the time of the
crime, were removed. Ordinarily, it is the routine
responsibility of the police to ensure that the crime scene
is preserved as it was at the time of the crime. In this
instance, the Memphis police ensured just the opposite –
that from the morning of April 5, 1968, the area would be
completely altered and never again be as it at 6:01 PM on
April 4, 1968, the evening before.
Not only was there – as Olivia Catling testified – no
house to house investigation in area of the Lorraine Motel
but also a considerable number of people in the area of
Jim’s Grill and the Lorraine Motel were never interviewed.
At the time as Reverend Orange noted, many were told to shut
up and stay out of the way. This and other omissions
prompted Judge Joe Brown to declare that this was the
sorriest excuse for an investigation that he had ever seen.
The old adage if you didn’t look for evidence, you won’t
find it held true in Memphis following the assassination.
Where potential evidence was stumbled upon or acquired it
frequently was ignored or suppressed – this was the case
with the two FBI 302 statements given by William Reed and
Ray Hendrix, which we put into evidence. They were the two
men who left Jim’s Grill about 20 minutes, or so, before the
killing and spent some time looking at James’s Mustang
before working north on South Main Street. Just as they
reached Vance, about two blocks away, they saw the white
Mustang, driven by a dark haired man, turn the corner in
front of them. These observations, in fact, corroborated
James’s account of how he left the scene several minutes
before the shooting in an effort to have the flat space tire
repaired. In other words, they constituted an alibi but were
kept from the defense and suppressed.
Also suppressed were critical scientific reports known to
the prosecution at the time. First, that the dent in the
bathroom windowsill, which the state contended had been made
by murder weapon, could not have been proved to have been
made by a rifle. Secondly, that the death slug removed from
Dr. King’s body could not be linked to or matched with the
rifle in evidence, and that this alleged murder weapon had
failed an accuracy test on the morning after the shooting
because it had never been sighted in.
Though this evidence was noted earlier, it is important
to focus on it here in terms of its suppression being
integral to the cover up.
Near the end of his tenure as James Earl Ray’s lawyer –
he was replaced by Mark Lane in 1977 – and during the early
period of the investigation by the House Select Committee on
Assassinations, Jack Kershaw testified that he was asked to
attend a meeting in the offices of a Nashville publishing
company. The meeting was held in a large conference room,
and those present included author William Bradford Huie. He
didn’t recognize any of the other persons, but he said that
two of them appeared to be government types.
He was asked to take an offer to James Earl Ray. The
offer consisted of a sum of money (in this instance $50,000)
a parole and an opportunity for a new life if James would
finally admit that he was the killer. Kershaw said he
listened, challenged Huie at one point in terms of the
reason behind, and the feasibility of, the arrangements but
agreed to take them to his client. He said James rejected
the proposal out of hand.
James’s brother Jerry took the stand a testified how,
some time later, he was personally contacted by author Huie
who basically made the same offer except that this time the
amount on offer had increased to $220,000. James was still
having none of it.
Jerry tape-recorded this conversation and authenticated
the transcript of that recording as being accurate and the
one he caused to be made. It was entered into evidence.
The jury heard evidence of two other more sinister cover
up efforts to put an end to James Earl Ray’s protestations
of innocence and request for a trial.
Former Congressman and HSCA King Subcommittee Chairman
Walter Fauntroy testified that after James Earl Ray escaped
(an escape that had “set up” written all over it) with a
number of other inmates in 1976, they learned that the FBI
had immediately and uninvited sent a SWAT team consisting of
upwards of 30 snipers to the prison. Their information was
that this unit was there not to help capture Ray but to kill
him. Fauntroy said that at his urging HSCA Chairman Stokes
called Tennessee Governor Ray Blanton and asked him to
intervene in order to save their main witness and Blanton’s
most famous prisoner. Blanton promptly took a helicopter to
the prison and ordered the FBI out of the area, thus saving
James’s life for he was captured non violently shortly
April Ferguson who is now a federal public defender was,
in 1978, Mark Lane’s assistant. She testified that their
office was contacted by an inmate at the Shelby County Jail
named Tim Kirk. When she and an assistant went out to
interview Kirk, he told them that he had been asked by a
Memphis mob connected topless club owner Arthur Wayne
Baldwin to put out a contract on James Earl Ray. Kirk, who
had some lethal connections at the Brushy Mountain
Penitentiary, could have organized the hit but he became
suspicious. Baldwin did not reach him that first time, and
he had to return the call. When he did call back, he
realized that the number was to a suite of rooms in an hotel
near the Memphis airport, where a suite of rooms was kept by
the local US Attorney’s office and the FBI and used to
interview witnesses and for other purposes. He thought that
he might have been set up, and so he decided to contact
Ray’s lawyer and another effort to silence James was
Baldwin had died, but as noted earlier, when I spoke with
him in 1994 at the Shelby County Penal Farm, he basically
confirmed Tim Kirk’s story. Baldwin also mentioned another
effort, in which he himself was actually to participate in
the killing of James. He said James’s continued presence at
the time of the HSCA hearings was a source of serious
concern and worry to Carlos Marcello and consequently to the
Memphis godfather, who he recalled had tongue lashed Liberto
for not killing Ray at the time.
Half a day was occupied with the testimony of Attorney
William Schapp, who we qualified as an expert on government
use of the media for disinformation and propaganda purposes.
After providing the jury with survey of these practices by
governments throughout history in a detailed question and
answer exchange, Schapp introduced the court to these
practices of the United States Government in other cases or
issues, where intelligence and/or national security
interests were believed to be involved. A number of examples
were cited. One, for example, involved a CIA propaganda
story that was spread all over the world and widely believed
for some four years, that Cuban troops fighting in Angola
1) raped Angolan women 2) were tried and convicted of these
crimes 3) were executed by the victims
In fact none of the above was true. The story was
revealed by the agent who promulgated it to be false and to
have been totally concocted at the CIA station in Zaire and
disseminated through the extensive world-wide agency
network. Schapp revealed that the agency alone – not to
mention its counterparts in the rest of the American
intelligence community – owned or controlled some 2,500
media entities all over the world. In addition, it has its
people ranging from stringers to highly visible journalists
and editors in virtually every major media organization. As
we have seen and were indeed experiencing every day of the
trial, this inevitably results in the suppression or
distortion of sensitive stories and the planting and
dissemination of disinformation.
He then turned to the coverage of the King assassination
and examined the extraordinary universal media hostility
against Dr. King when he came out against the Vietnam war,
and the same reaction against his family when they decided
to advocate a trial for James Earl Ray. Cited were specific
examples of media distortion and blatant lies, which
characterized the media coverage of the case and James Earl
Ray’s alleged role for over 30 years. Particular mention was
made of the totally baseless New York Times front page
column piece reporting on alleged investigations by the FBI,
the HSCA, and the Times of the 1967 Alton Illinois bank
robbery. This piece was far worse than distorted or slanted
reporting, since the investigations did not take place and
the Ray brothers were never even suspects as the Times
article stated. It was a domestic example of the type of
pure fabrication similar to the story about the Angolan
Schapp explained that a Harvard neurologist had helped
him to understand the power of the neurological impact upon
human cognizance, intellectual functioning, and reasoned
decision making when the same story is told over and over
again. That impact makes the story a knee jerk part of the
people who are exposed to it. Even if they are convinced on
one occasion, by powerful evidence to the contrary, the next
day will usually find them reverting to the long held
belief, which has became a part of themselves – often
integral to their very identity. Nothing less than some sort
of intense de-programming experience with ongoing
reinforcement is required.
After analyzing the powerfully comprehensive control of
the media by the forces who control American public policy
and examining their identical policy and coverage in terms
of the assassination, the systematic brainwashing of
Americans in respect of this case became abundantly clear to
the court, jury, and those present. Bill Schapp’s analysis
and testimony highlighted the absence of the media in our
courtroom. In effect by not being there, they proved his
point. As noted earlier, only one local television
journalist stayed. He was ordered away, and he refused.
Probably, only his popularity as a local anchor saved his
job for the time being. He was later fired. He – Wendell
Stacey – said he was never more disgusted with his
profession. He noted that The New York Times and the AP
reporter spent much of their time in the hallway outside of
the court. They and Court TV would be present when
celebrities testified, but for them to remain and hear the
evidence might mean that they would have to write about it,
and this was surely not what their editors wanted to read.
Considering all of the aspects of the cover up in this
case, the ongoing media role is the most sinister precisely
because it, if not powerfully controverted, as was done with
the trial, perpetuates the lies and disinformation from one
generation to the next, for all time.
The Defendant’s Prior Admissions
The defendant Loyd Jowers had made a number of admissions
over the years, which, taken cumulatively, constituted
powerful evidence of his knowing involvement in the
assassination. A number of witnesses took the stand, each
with a particular piece of the picture of Jowers’s role.
Taxi diver James Millner, who met Jowers in the early
1970’s, recounted how he came to work closely with Jowers
during 1979 – 1980, seeing him about 8 hours a day. On one
occasion during this time some twenty years ago, he
testified that Jowers told him that Dr. King was killed not
by James Earl Ray but by a law enforcement officer and that
he knew all about it.
Millner said that after Jowers told him that Dr. King was
actually killed by a law enforcement officer, he added that
“You can take that to the bank.” After that admission over
20 years ago, it was not until 1998 when Millner said that
he carried on a long distance telephone relationship with
his friend over a period of two and one half to three
months. During these conversations, Millner testified that
Jowers essentially told him what happened. He said he asked
Jowers if he pulled the trigger, and the response was – “I
was involved to a certain extent, but I did not pull the
trigger.” He said Jowers stated that Frank Liberto sent him
a large sum of money in a produce box. He took it and put it
in an old stove. Then, the man he knew as Raul picked it up.
Millner continued that Loyd told him that the assassination
was planned over two days in meetings in his café attended
by five men – only three of whom he knew. Millner testified
that Jowers identified an old police buddy with whom he used
to ride, inspector John Barger, a black MPD undercover
officer, Marrell McCollough, introduced by Barger, and a
hunting buddy, lieutenant Earl Clark. But he insisted that
two other men were present that he didn’t know.
Millner said that Jowers told him that Frank Liberto
instructed him to be at his back door around 6:00 PM where
he would receive a “package.” He was there, heard a shot,
and then took the “still smoking” rifle from his friend Earl
Clark. Then, he tried to flush the cartridge shell down his
toilet, but it stopped it up. When he retrieved it later
that night, he threw it in the Mississippi River. The next
morning, Jowers said, Raul picked up the rifle.
As noted earlier, J. J. Isabel testified confirming his
earlier statement that he and Jowers each drove a chartered
bus to Cleveland, taking a group of Memphis bawlers to a
tournament on St. Patrick’s day in 1979 or 1980. They shared
a hotel room, and after dinner and beers (with Jowers having
more than a few) as they sat on their beds talking, Isabel
said Jowers confirmed his knowledge about involvement in the
assassination. Isabel said Jowers’s response gave him pause.
He dropped the subject and never raised it again.
The jury had, of course, previously heard from Bill
Hamblin that his roommate James McCraw had maintained over a
15 year period that Jowers had given him the actual murder
weapon on the day after the killing and told him to get rid
of it, which he did by throwing it off the Memphis –
Arkansas bridge into the Mississippi river. In his earlier
deposition, McCraw only event so far as to admit that Jowers
showed him the actual murder rifle on the morning after the
shooting. It was hardly surprising that he concealed his
true role and only discussed the extent of his involvement
with his friend when he was dunk refusing to broach the
subject when he was sober.
Also as dicussed earlier, Bobbi Balfour, (Betty Spates
sister, previously “Smith”) one of Jowers’s waitresses,
testified that on the morning of the day of the
assassination, Jowers instructed her not, as had been her
daily practice, to bring food upstairs in the rooming house
to Grace Stephens who was bedridden and recuperating from an
illness. Grace and Charlie Stephens’s room was right next to
the one rented by James Earl Ray in mid afternoon, and which
appears to have been used by Raul for staging activity with
James having been kept outside of it by instructions from
Raul on one pretext or another for most of the time.
Ms. Balfour also testified that Jowers picked her up and
drove her to work the next morning. On the way, she said
that he told her that the police found the murder weapon out
behind the café.
Betty Spates story, which first surfaced in 1992, was put
into evidence as a rebuttal witness through her deposition
and her earlier affidavits, in which stated that standing at
the backdoor of the café’s kitchen around 6:00 PM on April
4, 1964 when she saw Loyd, her boss and lover running from
the bushes carrying a rifle. His face was white as a sheet,
and the knees of his trousers were wet and muddied. Rushing
by her, she said he broke down the rifle, then wrapping it
in a cloth he carried it into the Grill, where he put it
under the counter. For all of the intervening years, Betty
Spates thought Loyd, himself, was the assassin because she
didn’t see anyone else out in the bushes.
Defense counsel Garrison attacked Spates credibility
quoting from a statement she gave to the Shelby County
District Attorney General’s and FBI investigators, in which
she denied seeing anything. She subsequently had told me
that she felt threatened by the two official investigators.
We intended to call defendant Jowers at this stage of the
proceedings, but after the first week of the trial, his
health deteriorated preventing his return to the courtroom.
Consequently, we read portions of his deposition into
evidence. That evidence included the statements discussed
earlier that he confirmed he made in a December 16, 1993,
television interview with Sam Donaldson on his Prime Time
Live program, in which he admitted that he became involved
in facilitating the assassination at the request of Memphis
mobster Frank Liberto, to whom he owed a big favor. As noted
earlier, he was told that there would be no police around
and that a patsy (James Earl Ray) was in place, who did not
know what was going to happen.
The most critical testimony and in terms of evidence
damning admissions by Loyd Jowers came from Ambassador
Andrew Young and Dexter Scott King. Dexter participated in
two separated meetings with Mr. Jowers. The first session
was in my presence, and the second was with Ambassador
Andrew Young at the table. On both occasions, Mr. Jowers was
accompanied by his attorney Lewis Garrison.
Both Dexter and Andrew Young testified that Jowers,
admitted being approached by Frank Liberto who told him that
his assistance was required for the operation and that there
would be no police around at the time and that they had a
patsy lined up, would received a lot of money, which he was
to turn over to a person, named Raul, who would visit him
and who would leave a rifle with him.
He said these events took place, and subsequently, there
were meetings in his grill, where the assassination was
actually planned. Attending those sessions were Jowers and
MPD friend inspector John Barger, who Jowers said introduced
Marrell McCollough, another senior MPD inspector, (whom he
named) and MPD lieutenant Earl Clark.
The testimony revealed that Jowers said that on the day,
Earl Clark collected the rifle from him within an hour of
the killing. The next time he saw it was when he said, he
took it from Clark when it was still smoking after the shot.
Jowers said he tried to flush the shell casing door the
toilet in the rear off the grill, but it stopped it up.
Eventually, he said he threw it into the Mississippi river.
According to Jowers’s version, on this occasion, the actual
murder weapon was picked up the next day by one of Liberto’s
Jowers insisted that he didn’t know who was going to be
killed and contended that he did not participate in the
planning sessions. Both Dexter King and Andrew Young
testified that on this point, they didn’t believe him. They
agreed that he appeared to be an old man waiting to relieve
himself of a great burden, but that he didn’t quite seem
able to bring himself to be completely truthful as to his
role and the extent of his knowledge in first of the
This, of course, would explain whey he would not admit
being out in the bushes with the shooter or directing James
McCraw to get rid of the murder weapon as is indicated by
The interview session conducted by Dexter King and Andrew
Young was tape-recorded, and that recording authenticated by
Ambassador Young was introduced into evidence in its
It is interesting that while he told Millner that he did
not know the other two men at the planning sessions in his
café and that Raul picked up the rifle the day after the
killing, in the King / Young interviews, he named a fourth
man (an MPD inspector) who participated, and he said that
one of Frank Liberto’s people picked up the murder weapon on
the morning of April 5.
The King family did not bring the action for the purpose
of obtaining a large damage award against Loyd Jowers or his
co-conspirator agents of the City of Memphis, State of
Tennessee, and the Federal Government. The family decided to
request only nominal damages in the amount of $100 toward
the funeral expenses of their loved one. Three of the five
family members testified with great dignity. Mrs. King,
Dexter, and Yolanda, each in her or his own special way told
the jury what it meant to lose Martin King as a husband and
a father. From their perspectives, the jury and the court
had a unique opportunity to focus on the personal loss to
young children of a loving, caring, and playful father, as
well as the sudden absence suffered by their mother as she
was traumatically separated from her lifetime partner with
whom as one she had experienced joy and sadness, success,
and setbacks, tribulation, and adulation. One began to set a
glimpse of the burden of being the close family of a man, a
human being, who becomes a legendary, heroic figure in life,
then mythologized, and perhaps beatified if not sainted on
earth. (At this writing, Martin King has been declared a
Martyr by the Vatican - the first step toward sainthood.)
The Case For The Defense
Defense counsel, Garrison, as experienced as any member
of the Memphis bar called this case the most important
litigation, he had tried in his 40 years of practice. He had
been, however, placed in a most difficult position by his
client’s admissions driven by a desire, on the one hand to
obtain immunity from prosecution (which began in 1993) and
on the other to unburden his conscience in his waning years.
The defense therefore took the position that Mr. Jowers had
no liability, but if he did, it was minuscule compared with
that of the co-conspirators who were agents of the city,
state and federal governments. The strategy was to minimize
Jowers involvement, and consequently, it made little sense
not to acknowledge the role played by the alleged
Therefore, throughout the presentation of the plaintiff’s
case, defense focused on eliciting evidence from relevant
witnesses on cross-examination, which tended to minimize his
client’s involvement though not that of the co-conspirators.
At the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case, the defense
moved for a dismissal on the grounds that the plaintiff’s
wrongful death action had been field outside of the one year
statute of limitations. We argued that the statute only
began to run after Dexter king’s first meeting with Loyd
Jowers and actually heard for the first time the account of
his personal involvement. The meeting was held on March 2,
1998, and the action filed on October 2, 1998 within the
year. No proof was offered that the plaintiff’s or any of
them had access to reliable information about the
defendant’s role as well as any opportunity to test his
credibility. Plaintiffs, for a considerable time, diligently
sought an opportunity to learn the truth from the defendant,
and as soon as the meeting with Dexter was agreed, it was
held without delaying.
After extensive oral argument, the Judge denied the
The most hotly disputed defense motion, and the last
before Lewis Garrison opened his case, was for a mistrial
based upon the inability of his client to attend the trial
and assist with his defense due to his deteriorating health
condition. A doctor’s letter was provided in support. It was
true that Jowers had been absent after the first week, and
we had considered going to his home in order to take his
deposition. We ultimately decided against doing this when he
informed us through his attorney that he would invoke the
fifth amendment throughout.
We argued that the mistrial was not timely or warranted
since we at the outset had fully disclosed our witness list
and the scope of their expected testimony to the defense,
which had ample time to prepare. Since the defendant had
made it clear that he was unwilling to testify in his own
behalf either in front of the jury or by deposition, his
presence or absence was irrelevant.
The Judge was also unhappy with the language of the
doctor’s letter noting that it did not explicitly state that
Jowers was unable to attend court or testify.
The court denied the motion for a mistrial, and the
defense moved on with its case.
First, he called the Reverend Samuel “Billy” Kyles. In
response to questions put to him on direct examination,
Reverend Kyles described his civil rights experiences in
Tennessee and the events surrounding the sanitation workers
strike and Dr. King’s visit. He said that they were all
under surveillance and he referred to the Redditt – Richmond
surveillance operation which was conducted from the rear of
the fire station. He said that he learned that one of the
black officers (He was referring to Willie B. Richmond.)
engaged in that activity was so troubled by it that he
became an alcoholic, left the police force, and died,
implying that he committed suicide. He gave his usual
account of how he went into Dr. King’s room about an hour
before the assassination, spent the last hour of Dr. King’s
life with him. He described their conversation or “preacher
talk.” He gave an emotional statement of how he had come to
believe that it was God’s will that he had been there to be
present when this great man died. He said, inexplicably,
that Dr. King did not die using drugs or from engaging in
some other criminal, activity but because he was there to
help the garbage workers. He described how a little old lady
came to one of his speeches and told him how she just wanted
to shake his hand because his hand had touched Dr. King.
Thus, he considered himself blessed to have had this
When Lewis Garrison surrendered the witness, he was
riding high with his credibility intact. After
cross-examination was completed, it was in tatters.
At the outset, I decided that my associate Juliet
Hill-Akines would conduct the cross-examination of Reverend
Kyles. I believed that the level of my personal hostility
and disdain was so high that professionally it would be
appropriate to ask Juliet to handle cross.
She focused on how he drew pleasure from women, such as
the one he described, reaching out to him, and seeking to
touch his hand. Then, her questions dealt with Willie B.
Richmond indicating not only that he was alive but also that
he had testified at this trial. Kyles was surprised. She
then walked him through Kyles statement which, of course,
refutes his claim to have been in Dr. King’s room observing
that he simply knocked on the door, had a few words with Dr.
King who then closed the door, and Kyles walked over to the
balcony some way down from the room.
Reverend Kyles said that statement was simply not true.
He could not explain, however, why the officer would lie
about these simple facts.
Then, Juliet played a videotape of a speech given him on
the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination. In it, he
described again how he spent Dr. King’s last hour on earth
with him and Reverend Abernathy in Room 306. Then, as he
described how he and Dr. King stood together on the balcony
at the railing, he seemed to get carried away and became
transfixed as he said at one point: -
“. . . only as I moved away so he could have a clear
shot, the shot rang out. . .”
The jury and the Judge looked stunned.
Juliet played the tape three times, so it became very
clear that he had, in fact, somehow admitted stepping aside
so that a shooter could get a clear shot.
When she asked him who he was thinking about getting a
clear shot, he said, he supposed it would have been James
At one point during cross-examination, Kyles mouthed
silently to her “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
When he was dismissed, he walked behind the attorneys’
chairs and asked Garrison – “What did you get me into?”
Garrison replied “I just called you as a witness.”
Yolanda King was in court that day and had the very
uncomfortable experience of sitting through Reverend Kyles
Next, the defense called Frank Warren Young from the
Shelby County Criminal Clerk’s office. He brought with him
the original transcript of the record of the guilty plea
hearing and authenticated it so that it could be placed in
evidence and in the record. The defense thus ensured that
James Earl Ray’s guilty plea was in evidence four the jury’s
On cross-examination, I asked the witness to focus on
particular aspects of the transcript.
I asked him look at the first pages of the transcript and
observe whether or not James Earl Ray had been put under
oath by Judge Preston Battle. (Required practice during a
guilty plea hearing) He had not been sworn. I next asked him
to read James’s interruption of the proceedings when he
stated that he had never agreed with Ramsey Clark or J.
Edger Hoover that there had been no conspiracy and he did
not want to do so now.
Upon request, he read the state’s representations about:
The existence of the second Mustang, (which they falsely
claimed at the time was the only Mustang); the eyewitness
Charlie Stephens (who was actually too drunk to have seen
anything); the dropping of the bundle in front of Canipes
(the jury had already heard Judge Hanes testify about
Canipes’s statement); and the deliberative misrepresentation
of the dent in the windowsill, about which it was stated
that forensic evidence would conclusively establish “. .
.will match the markings on the barrel of the rifle in
evidence.” (after Attorney Lesar had introduced a FBI
laboratory report stating that this was not possible.)
As their next witness, the defense called former MPD
lieutenant Eli Arkin. Arkin, who was a senior intelligence
officer, confirmed that he had picked up detective Redditt
at the fire station and eventually, after the meeting in the
MPD Central Headquarters, on director Holloman’s
instructions, he took him to his home. Shortly after they
arrived, there the assassination took place.
Lieutenant Arkin then confirmed that elements of the
111th Military Intelligence Group worked out of his office
for some time during the sanitation workers strike.
On cross-examination, he denied ever meeting or talking
with any of the Alpha 184, Special Forces team in Memphis on
the day of the assassination. Eli Arkin’s confirmation of
the presence and activity of the 111th Military Intelligence
Group in Memphis added to the defense’s mitigating claim.
The first wife of lieutenant Earl Clark, Rebecca Clark,
was called as the next defense witness. Prior to her
testimony, she had asked for a copy of her deposition to
review and was provided with it. Mr. Garrison established
that her husband kept a large collection of guns and that he
was an expert shot. She said that she got off work at 4:00
PM that day and that it took her about 10 – 15 minutes to
get home, so she arrived home around 4:15 PM. She then said
she believed that her husband got home about an hour or so
later and lay down for a nap which lasted 30 – 40 or 45
minutes until a report came over the police walkie talkie
radio, which he left on the dining room table for her to
When the word of the assassination came through, she woke
him up, and he told her to go and get his clean uniform from
the cleaners before they closed. She set out for the
cleaners which was about 15 minutes away, and he took a
bath. When she returned, he left.
Attorney Garrison raised the fact that kind of walkie
talkie, she was talking about, was not available during
those times. She couldn’t comment on that she said she only
knew what she heard.
On cross-examination, I came back several times to the
question of whether she was lying to protect not her dead
divorced husband but her children and, of course, himself.
She denied that she would lie for that purpose. One major
problem with her alibi for her former husband was the timing
of the events, which she described, and the conflict between
her earlier recollections in her deposition of April, 1999
and her current story.
In her deposition, she clearly stated that she usually
worked until 3:00 PM, but on that day, she worked until 4:00
PM. She also stated that her husband came home” fairly soon”
after she had arrived. She set the time of his unannounced
arrival at some 10 – 15 minutes after her own. She also
indicated that he was not asleep very long when the
announcement came on the radio. In court, she now remembers
that he could have arrived as much as 45 minutes after her,
putting it at or around 5:00 PM, and that his nap could have
lasted for quite some time – an hour or more.
It clearly appeared to me that she was trying to cover up
for an unexplained period of an hour, which may have meant
both she and her husband Clark came home earlier and that he
left earlier well before the assassination.
As discussed later, we subsequently learned that the
cleaners would have been closed by the time she should
arrived – around 6:30 PM. At that time, Mr. Dent the owner
would be at home having dinner with his family. We would
also learn that she did not go near the cleaners that
afternoon but that her husband who was not home did go there
himself. We would also confirm that the kind of Walkie
Talkie radio which she said her husband brought home was
definitely not in use at the time.
Attorney Garrison read portions of a “John Doe November
5, 1999, telephonic deposition into the record. The witness,
who contacted Garrison, declared that he was involved in the
assassination of Martin King present to a $400,000 contract
for the killing put out by Water Reuther the leader of the
United Auto workers. He contended that Reuther was being
pressed by Hubert Humphrey and Lyndon Johnson. Because of
Dr. King’s anti war activity and that Carlo Marcello
cooperated but was not directly involved, and James Earl Ray
was not even there having left for Atlanta.
Attorney Garrison completed reading, his portions of the
telephone deposition I advised a court that we had concluded
that this witness was providing misinformation and false
evidence, and I referred to Page 56 of the deposition and
read his response to my question on cross-examination with
respect to him arriving at his position at the corner of the
brush area near the wall. When I asked him how long he took
to get there in his position from the time he entered the
parking lot area, which was adjacent to the brush area
behind the rooming house, he replied only a couple of
minutes. When I asked him if he encountered any impediment
as he passed through the area to his position, he said None
except for the bushes, through which he had to make through
his way. We then put up on the screen a photograph taken
within a day or so of the assassination showing the area
behind the rooming house. Very clearly visible on the
photograph was fence which was at about five feet tall and
which around east and west from the north side of the
rooming house all the way down to the very edge of the wall.
For the witness to have passed through this area and not
having on countered, this fence was unimaginable. Since
there were even some barbed wire strands across the top, it
would have required some effort to climb over it.
Based upon this particular fact and other statements he
made, which did not conform to facts we knew about the case
including the Caliber bullet retrieved from Dr. King, we
concluded that this witness was not credible.
The defense had subpoenaed Marvin Glankler, the
investigator in charge of the Shelby County District
Attorney General’s last investigation, and Retired Judges
James Beasley and Robert Dwyer who were Assistant Attorneys
General in 1968, prepared the state'’ case against James
Earl Ray and in Beasley’s case actually presented the
state’s evidence to the guilty plea jury. Garrison said that
initially they told him they would be pleased to take the
stand and defend their work and the case against James.
By early December close to the time they were due to take
the stand, their positions had changed. A motion to quash
the subpoena was filed on their behalf by the State Attorney
General. Argued out of the presence of the jury, the Judge
denied the motion and ordered the former Judges to appear.
Meanwhile, Marvin Glankler, out of turn, arrived at the
courthouse along with a representative of the anti-drug task
force, which he now headed. The Judge’s order required him
to take the stand but with Glankler outside of the
courtroom, the state’s lawyer and the task force official
argued in a bench conference that his testimony could
destroy his cover and jeopardize the sensitive operation. It
was finally agreed that Glankler would take the stand, but
that the cameras would avoid showing or photographing his
face. He was sworn in and began his testimony.
Garrison attempted repeatedly to draw information form
Glankler on the Attorney General’s investigative report,
which was published in 1998. He was met with continual
objections from the Assistant Attorney General who was there
to represent the state, the Shelby County District Attorney
General and, of course, investigator Glankler. The state
lawyer was up and down like a jack in the box. His intention
was clearly to limit Glankler’s testimony to the maximum
extent possible. He basically contended that the report
should speech for itself, and since Glankler did not write
it, he could not comment on it. Garrison was able to extract
the facts that the District Attorney General’s office began
an investigation in 1993 and ended it in 1998. That he,
Glankler, was the Chief investigator, and that the
investigation may have included statements taken from some
On cross-examination, I took a different tack. I asked
Glankler if he had interviewed 25 named witnesses, the
evidence from all of whom had already been heard by the
jury. I asked him about each one in turn. Of the 25, he had
interviewed only two. He had not even heard of most of the
others. The negative impact on the credibility of the
District Attorney General’s investigation and report was
evident in the expression of disbelief on the jurors’ faces.
The defense next called LaVada Whitlock Addison, Nathan
Whitlock’s mother, and as noted earlier, she testified in
detail about the time in her café when her regular customer,
Memphis produce man Frank Liberto told her that he had
arranged the killing of Martin Luther King. She said that
she ran the little pizza parlor – which was between
Liberto’s home and his warehouse in the Scott Street market
– between 1976 and 1982. She said that Liberto would stop in
four or five times a week starting in 1977 and that they
developed a good relationship, one in which he would often
confide in her about various things. He trusted and liked
her. On the day in question, she said they were sitting
together at two tables pushed together, and something came
on the television about Dr. King. (The congressional
hearings were being televised in 1978.) He leaned forward
toward her and said “I had Dr. Martin Luther King killed.”
She said, she recoiled and told him – “Don’t be telling me
anything like that. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t believe
it anyway.” She said that this was the only time he ever
mentioned it to her though she saw him many times afterward.
Attorney Garrison read large portion of James Earl Ray’s
deposition into the record, which basically set out James’s
story and the history of his involvement from the time he
escaped from prison in 1967.
After the Spates rebuttal evidence, discussed earlier,
was concluded defense counsel Garrison renewed his motion
for a mistrial, based upon his client’s absence from court.
This was denied promptly, and he then filed a motion for
directed verdict, which he argued was justified because the
plaintiffs did not meet the required burden of proof. I
argued that the evidence adduced on behalf of the plaintiffs
was overwhelming and that though we had met the standard we
decided not to move for a directed verdict in the case
because we wanted it to go to the jury.
The Judge denied the motion, and closing arguments began.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General appealed Judge
Swearingen’s denial of the motion to quash the subpoenas
served upon Judges Beasley and Dwyer to the Court of Appeals
and the Court promptly overturned the ruling and ordered the
subpoena quashed. Judges Beasley and Dwyer were spared the
inevitable uncomfortable task of defending the state’s
investigation and justifying certain representations made on
March 10, 1969 to the guilty plea hearing jury.
The Closing Arguments
Over a period of nearly two hours, I took the jury
through the evidence, step by step, reminding them that the
King family had brought this trial because the initial
investigation was badly flawed and had not been remedied by
any subsequent official local or federal investigation. I
reminded them that the truth had been covered up for 31
years but that in this courtroom, even though the media had
been absent most of the time and the outside world had not
learned about the evidence or even heard about the trial,
the truth had been revealed. As Martin King after said
“Truth crushed to earth shall rise again” – and so it did.
During the last half-hour with the use of computer
graphics, we took the jury through the last 21 minutes of
Dr. King’s life and the eleven minutes immediately following
Lewis Garrison contended that if his client had any
liability, he was at worst only a small cog in the
conspiracy, which took Martin Luther King’s life. He tried
to focus the jury’s attention on the city, state, and
federal government as well on James Earl Ray.
The Jury Instructions
By late morning, we were finished and the Judge
instructed the jury. He gave the standard instructions,
defining direct and circumstantial evidence, advising them
that they and only they must decide questions of fact and
how much weight to put on the various aspects of evidence,
which had been laid before them, while he would determine
the law. He reminded them that they must find for the
plaintiffs if they found that the plaintiffs’ allegations
were proved by a preponderance of the evidence, in other
words if the allegations were more likely true than not. On
the issue of damages, he reminded them that they were bound
by the parties’s stipulation that the damages should no
exceed $100 – a payment toward the funeral expenses.
Finally, he told them that he had prepared a jury verdict
sheet, which contained those questions to be answered.
1. Did the defendant Loyd Jowers participate in a conspiracy
to do harm to Dr. Martin Luther King? If yes,
2. Did you also find that others including governmental
agencies were parties to this conspiracy as alleged by the
3. What is the total amount of damages to be awarded to the
The case went to the jury just before lunch.
It took the jury about one hour to decide. After nearly four
weeks of trial and some 70 witnesses they found that:
1. YES – Loyd Jowers participated in a conspiracy to do harm
to Martin Luther King.
2. YES – Others including governmental agencies were parties
to this conspiracy as alleged by the defendant.
3. The total damages to be awarded to the plaintiffs are
The issue of comparative liability was agreed to rest
with the Judge. Based on the evidence before him, Judge
Swearingen apportioned liability as follows:
The Transcription of the King Family Press Conference on the MLK Assassination Trial Verdict
December 9, 1999 Atlanta , GA
Coretta Scott King: There is abundant evidence of a
major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband, Martin
Luther King, Jr. And the civil court's unanimous verdict has validated
our belief. I wholeheartedly applaud the verdict of the jury and I feel
that justice has been well served in their deliberations. This verdict
is not only a great victory for my family, but also a great victory for America. It is a great victory for
truth itself. It is important to know that this was a SWIFT verdict,
delivered after about an hour of jury deliberation. The jury was clearly
convinced by the extensive evidence that was presented during the trial
that, in addition to Mr. Jowers, the conspiracy of the Mafia, local,
state and federal government agencies, were deeply involved in the
assassination of my husband. The jury also affirmed overwhelming
evidence that identified someone else, not James Earl Ray, as the
shooter, and that Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame. I want to make
it clear that my family has no interest in retribution. Instead, our
sole concern has been that the full truth of the assassination has been
revealed and adjudicated in a court of law. As we pursued this case,
some wondered why we would spend the time and energy addressing such a
painful part of the past. For both our family and the nation, the short
answer is that we had to get involved because the system did not work.
Those who are responsible for the assassination were not held to account
for their involvement. This verdict, therefore, is a great victory for
justice and truth. It has been a difficult and painful experience to
revisit this tragedy, but we felt we had an obligation to do everything
in our power to seek the truth. Not only for the peace of mind of our
family but to also bring closure and healing to the nation. We have done
what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the
media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of
influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to
the widest possible audience. I know that this has been a difficult case
for everyone involved. I thank the jury and Judge Swearington for their
commitment to reach a just verdict, I want to also thank our attorneys,
Dr. William Pepper and his associates for their hard work and tireless
dedication in bringing this case to justice. Dr. Pepper has put many
years of his life, as well as his financial resources, into this case.
He has made significant personal sacrifices to pursue the search for the
truth about my husband's assassination.
I want to thank my son Dexter, who showed great courage and
perseverance and who took a lot of unmerited and personal attacks so we
could get to the truth about the assassination. And I want to thank my
other children, Yolanda, Martin and Bernice who have kept the faith,
refused to become embittered and have remained steadfast in their
efforts to pursue the truth of their father's assassination. My husband
once said, "The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward
justice." Today, almost 32 years after my husband and the father of my
four children was assassinated, I feel that the jury's verdict clearly
affirms this principle. With this faith, we can begin the 21st century
and the new millennium with a new spirit of hope and healing.
Dexter King: I would just like to say that this is
such a heavy moment for me. Yet while my heart is heavy, and this is a
bittersweet occasion, bitter because we are dealing with tragedy, a
tragedy that occurred some 32 years ago, but, yet today, we are still
dealing with it. It is sweet because finally we know what happened.
Sweet because this family has been vindicated, sweet because we can say
that we are truly free at last. We can now move on with our lives. I
want to give a real thanks to my mother, for her leadership and her
tireless effort in carrying this burden all this time. You know we as
children at that time were so young that we did not really understand
what was going on. To my siblings, who have been here and been
steadfast, to my aunt, we as a family have been unified around this
effort. We finally got what we have been asking for, the opportunity to
present evidence that we always felt would bring the truth out in a
court of law. To have had 12 individual jurors to bear what we have been
saying, that if the American public were allowed to really hear, they
too would conclude what has now been concluded by those 12. I want to
make a special thanks to Dr. William Pepper, for really if it were not
for his efforts, we would not have known about this. We really would not
have gotten involved. We can say that because of the evidence and
information obtained in Memphiswe believe that this case is over. This is a period in the chapter.
We constantly hear reports, which troubles me, that this verdict creates
more questions than answers. That is totally false. Anyone who sat in on
almost four weeks of testimony, with over seventy witnesses, credible
witnesses I might add, from several judges to other very credible
witnesses, would know that the truth is here. The question now is, "What
will you do with that?" We as a family have done our part. We have
carried this mantle for as long as we can carry it. We know what
happened. It is on public record. The transcripts will be available; we
will make them available on the Web at some point. Any serious
researcher who wants to know what happened can find out.
And I just want to state for the record for once and for all, that
those of you in the media who may innocently be reporting that
inaccuracy, you know, because you may be legitimately ignorant about the
facts, I want to clear that up now. Those of you who may be a part of
the media manipulation, you to can hear this. The word that always comes
forth first, that James Earl Ray confessed, is not true. He never
confessed. He pleabargained. Any of you that understand the legal
process understand that plea bargain is not the same as a confession.
Why? Essentially it is put forth in an effort to get a lenient sentence.
Also, it is an admission to having committed the crime. The second
thing, is that this verdict was not, as has been reported, a conspiracy
that said others were involved other than James Earl Ray. That is not
what that jury voted on. I want to be clear about that. They clearly
voted on evidence that stated that James Earl Ray was not the shooter,
that he was set up, that he was an unknown patsy. That Lloyd Jowers,
along with his coconspirators, that the jury also concluded involved
state, local and federal agencies. I want to be clear about that,
because you keep hearing duplicitous reports. I also want to put to rest
for once and for all, that no one is qualified to speak on this case
except the people who were there, the jurors, the family and, of course,
the legal team. Just because someone says they marched with Dr. King
does not make them an authority on this subject, whether they are
political conduits or government publicists who continue to recycle
these lies and continue to discredit this family. This is what happened
to my father. There is a very distinct process or protocol that happens
when there is an issue of national security. First, there is an attempt
to discredit ones credibility. Second, there is harassment. And finally,
if that does not work, termination or elimination. That is what happened
to our loved one, because he challenged the establishment. He spoke out
against the war in Vietnam. He
talked about dealing with poverty, by taking poor people to Washington. There was
also an interest in the political process. He became too powerful. Let
us not forget, as my mother said, that it was the failure of the system
to do the right thing by its citizens, who first and foremost caused and
created a Martin Luther King Jr. and others to get out on the front line
and be beaten, brutalized and even killed. And now, it is the failure of
the system to do the right thing, which is now to find out who killed
this man. Because they themselves will have to show bloody hands. So it
is left up to our efforts as private citizens, as he was a private
citizen who had to seek other means through private regress. We thank
God for democracy. There is still in Americaa
system, even with all of its shortcomings, that in some cases justice
can be achieved. So we believe that this verdict speaks to that last
bastion of this democracy. Where 12 independent people could hear
something and that you and I am also given the opportunity to hear and
to know. So in that regard we celebrate.
Finally, we know that because this has occurred after 32 years, we
can finally move on with our lives. We don't care what the justice
department does. This is another misnomer. We did not do this to force
their hand. I doubt seriously that they will indict themselves, for who
polices the police? That is up to the American public. We, [the King
family] have done our part. Those of you, if you find it in your hearts
to get the "powers that be" to officialize what 12 independent people
have already done, that is your business. We know what happened. This is
the period at the end of the sentence. Please, after today, we do not
want questions like; "do you believe that James Earl Ray killed your
father?" I have been hearing that all of my life. No, I don't. This is
the end of it. Thank you.
Martin Luther King, III: First I want to say, well
done brother, well said. On behalf of all of the persons who worked with
my father and as the spokesperson of the organization that he cofounded,
SCLC, I don't think that I can say much more than what my brother Dexter
has said, and what my mother has said. Certainly this has been a very,
very long time coming. It essentially says that the truth can in fact
come through. It essentially says that if you keep working forward,
sometimes for some, even in the twilight, that one day you will reach
the conclusion of truth. This could not have happened without a lot of
people. I too, want to thank Dr. Pepper and his team, who have been
working on this for almost 20 plus years. I too, must thank my brother,
who basically sat us down and had the courage to encourage us to take on
this issue that we knew was going to be a process of maybe, attempting
to discredit this family. Some people have said that we are crazy. Some
have stated that we were trying to do other things. The only thing we
have ever tried to do was to seek that which is true. So while this is
in a sense closing for us, or may be the end of a chapter for us, it
might be just the beginning for others, as my brother Dexter has stated
and my mother has stated.
We are very pleased this day. I hope that this will give others
encouragement to always seek that which is true. Thank you.
Bernice King: I guess I will speak, for I have never
spoken before regarding the assassination of my father. I was only 3
yearsold. You may remember me as the one in my mother's lap at the
funeral. I don't have much to say, because in a real sense I recall
words that were spoken when the decision came down from the Supreme
Court, regarding the bus boycott in Montgomery , Alabama. The words spoken were that "God had
spoken" from the Supreme Court. I think that God has spoken from 12
independent jurors in Memphis
Tennesseeconcerning my father's
assassination. As somewhat the spiritual leader for this family, because
I am an ordained Christian Minister, I have to truly give praise to God
for what has happened. We cannot know that God is not a liar. He has
spoken his word that I will never leave you, not forsake you, that I
will be with you until the end of the earth. So I praise God for what
may happen. I thank God for my family. My family praises God for
Attorney William Pepper, for his diligent and tireless efforts. There is
a word in scripture that says do not be weary in what you are doing, for
in due season you will reap if you faint not. Today, we have reaped a
harvest, not only for us alone, but also for this nation. And I believe
that ultimately God is going to speak even more truth in regards to the
assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., because as we said from the
beginning, even though we needed a sense of peace and satisfaction to
have the record set straight, the reality is that it is not who killed
Martin Luther King, Jr., but as we go forth into the new millennium, as
a nation, but what killed Martin Luther King, Jr. Because whenever we
get to what killed Martin Luther King, Jr., then we will deal with the
various injustices that we face as a nation and ultimately as a nation
that leads this world. So I thank God for what has happened. I thank the
American people for their voices that have been relentless in this
pursuit in various ways. Even to those who have not been able to speak
at this point, I thank God for their prayers.
William Pepper: Ladies and Gentlemen, this great
republic has throughout it's history, has been afraid to face the issues
that Martin Luther King tried to confront at the end of his life. Dexter
King said quite frankly, that Martin King opposed the war in Vietnam , and sought to bring the poor to
rally for their cause in the halls of Congress. They took up tents in
the shadow of the Washington Memorial to remind the lawmakers that
forces of power in this land that do exist, and they have rights which
were being denied to them.
Because he took on those forces, powerful economic forces that
dominated politics in this land, they killed him. He was killed because
he could not be stopped. He was killed because they feared that half a
million people would rise in revolution in the capitol of this country,
and do what Mr. Jefferson said needed to be done every 20 years, to
cleanse this land. This land has not been cleansed. This nation has not
faced the problems that Martin Luther King, Jr. died trying to face and
confront. They still exist today, the forces of evil, the powerful
economic forces that dominate the government of this land and make money
on war and deprive the poor of what is their right, their birthright.
They still abound and they rule.
The jury heard the background of Dr. King's crust. They understood,
finally, the reason why he was stained. He was not a civil rights leader
when he was stained. He was an international figure of great stature. He
had a moral banner that he was waving and it was heard and seen all over
the land. Here and in Europe, Southeast Asia
. He had that kind of compelling presence. He was a danger and a threat
to the status quo. So he was eliminated.
What the jury also heard, from all of those witnesses for almost four
weeks, was that he was assassinated because of the removal of the all
police protection when he was in the city of Memphis. Even Black Firemen were taken away.
His body guard staff were removed. Attack forces were moved back. On and
on it went. And then the Mafia involvement with Jowers was put forth in
excruciating detail of how this was planned and who was behind this.
The man who controlled James Earl Ray was identified by independent
witnesses from spreads of photographs they had seen. Like a British
journalist showed a photograph of this man to his daughter and she said
anybody could get this photo of my father identifying him heading
others. A Portuguese journalist met with the family and was told how the
government of the United Stateswas protecting this man. Now, in their homes protecting
their phones. Who is this person? Who is this person that the government
continues to protect? Against what kind of assault?
Then the proof goes into the broader conspiracy. The fact that had
you known that there were photographers on the roof of the fire station.
Had you known that two army photographers were on the roof of the fire
station photographing everything. Two cameras, one on the balcony and
one whisking around the driveway and into the brush area. Did you know
ladies and gentlemen that the assassination was photographed? That there
were photographs buried in the archives at the Department of Defense? No
you did not know. And you know why you did not know? Because there was
no police investigation in this case. No house to house investigation.
Neighbors as late as two weeks later stated "they never knocked on my
door, now let me tell you what I saw." And she takes the stand and she
tells what she saw.
She tells that she saw a fireman tell the police that the shot came
from those bushes there, and the police ignored him. Seeing a man run
from an alley and get into a car and is whipped away right in front of
the police. And the police not bothering at all to stop him. No, no, no,
you did not know about any of this did you? They didn't talk to the
Captain who ran the fire station. No one talked to that man in thirty
years. He put the photographers up there. He took the stand and stated,
"yeah I put them up there. They showed me credentials saying they wanted
to take pictures."
Where are those pictures? That proof has existed for all of these
years. It's there. It has been buried. The tragedy of the death of
Martin Luther King, Jr. is a tragedy for this family here. This family
in my view is America's first family because of their struggle and for
what they have stood for, going back for generations, going back to
1917, the first world war period, this family was under surveillance by
military intelligence back then. Up to the present time they have been
feared. So that is a tragedy for this family. It is a tragedy for this
nation and to the world that this man was taken from us when he was.
The third tragedy was the failure of representative democracy to deal
with this as a political act. This type of act which was covered up. How
was it covered up? Well, the jury heard evidence as to how it was
covered up for 31 years. And ladies and gentlemen, the evidence they
heard ranged from murder, murder of a poor innocent cab driver who was
putting luggage into a taxi cab in the driveway of the Loraine Motel and
who saw the shooter come down over the wall, run down Mulberry Street
and get into a waiting Memphis Police traffic car to be driven away. He
told his dispatcher, "Oh, they got the killer. I saw him being driven
away in a Memphis Police Department traffic car." What happened to that
poor taxi cab driver? He was interviewed by the police that night and
they found his body the next morning. NO record of that death exists. NO
record exists. If we had not found people whom he had told that story,
who heard him on the very night we would have never known about this.
Then we have to go to the directories and find out who was his wife
and who he was. To see his listings in the directories in 66 and 67, and
then in 68, see "Betty" his widow. He is dead, he is gone and he is
history. So it goes from murder, down through bribery. James Earl Ray
was offered large sums of money on two occasions: when he was in prison
and a pardon if he would plead guilty. He did not do it. There was
evidence of attempted assassination of James when he was in prison.
Evidence was produced of how they tried to get rid of James, how they
tried to kill him when he was in prison. We went all through all of
that. Then ladies and gentlemen, the media. Because this could not have
been covered up without the help of the media. This is not a
condemnation of the good works of journalists who come and write stories
and put them through to your editors and watch them publish, or
television cameramen who do your jobs as you are supposed to do it. It
has to do with forces that ultimately decide what gets on the air, what
gets in print and what the slant is. So we put Bill Shat who is one of
the leading experts on media this information and propaganda used by
government on the stand, and he explained in detail how governments have
done this historically and how they have done it down to the present
time. He explained how they took this family on when they decided they
were going to come out for a trial for James Earl Ray. And how they took
Martin King on when he came out against the war in Vietnam.
And remember, when Dr. King came out against that war, it made
everyone come out against him. The media attacked him like there was no
tomorrow. Just like the media attacked his family like there is no
tomorrow when they did what was right. It is the job of the media to
disclose. Not the job to hide. This has been covered up, it has been
hidden all of these years. Now the jury has spoken. And what did the
verdict say? And they are going to be trotted out and here comes the
spins, "Oh the Judge was asleep during a lot of the trial and he didn't
hear a lot of the evidence. Oh there was a lot of hearsay there." Not
mentioning the admissions against interest are omitted if there is
One thing after another like this by people who have never seen him,
who have never heard him, who are not interested in the efforts, but who
have got a locked in position that says that there was a lone assassin
and that is always the way it is going to be. Well let us hope that
together we can somehow make a step so that we can end this nonsense. We
can end this nonsense. We can end this cover up. We can say for once and
for all that a jury has spoken. They heard everything. If there is any
decency left in this system, it is the fact that you can get 12 people
who can hear what other people have to say, they can review documents,
there are about 50 exhibits that they were able to review, and they can
make up their own minds.
The defense tried several times to have the case dismissed. The Judge
refused. So it did go to a jury and that jury has spoken. Let's hope
this is a forum, which we can say, is healing. We have reached the
truth. The family is satisfied. What the government does, the government
can do. The government may do now what it has never done before. If they
want to take it up now, let them take it up. The real, real ongoing,
almost criminal aspect of the case that still exists, is the fact that
this family privately had to do what the government has not done and
would not do. Make no mistake about it, all the evidence that was heard
in that court over the course of the last 30 days has been available for
32 years. It has been there right in front of them. All they had to do
was look, ask questions, believe credible people who were willing to
talk to them, and not further go away because there were black shop
owners and they didn't know what they heard when he heard the man say,
shoot the son of a B when he comes on the balcony. He didn't know and he
didn't understand that. This was a businessman from Somerville. In the traditional history of the
country, where a person who was a friend and a colleague of a victim,
only for one year, the last year of his life, but during that year the
friend and colleague of the victim decided 20 years later the convicted
murderer of that victim. Then eventually came to represent the family in
the final quest of justice. That has been the process that I follow.
That has been the result. We have at last obtained justice. Martin King
was always fond of saying in moments of trial, that truth crushed to
earth, no matter how much it is crushed, will always rise again. Ladies
and Gentlemen, in that courtroom yesterday in
Memphis , Tennessee, finally that truth crushed to
earth rose again. Today we acknowledge that truth.
Dexter King: I want to thank all of you for being so
patient and for coming out to cover this. At this moment, we have now
ended our formal statements and would now like to open it up for
Answer to Question by Dexter King: What should
happen next as you have heard, we really have no control over. I don't
mean to sound rash or insensitive, but we really don't care at this
time. As my father used to say, in healthy self interest, this family is
now hoping to cleanse and to heal and move. Closure. This is it for us.
We are here to say that we feel that we can move on from here.
Answer to Question by Dexter King: No, no, Mr.
Jowers did name names. That is another misnomer. Why is there so much
misinformation. The only thing I can say is that if anybody wants to
really take time they should read these transcripts. Ironically, I
happen to get a call from Mr. Jowers on my way over here on my cell
phone. He called to basically say that he wanted the family to know and
to express to you, Mother Dear, that he never wanted nor intended any
harm to us and that he is glad this is off of his chest. He is glad the
jury ruled the way they did. He said that his attorney does not even
know that I am talking to you, and I don't care. I don't have much
longer and I don't care what is going to happen to me now. He is very
afraid of an indictment. That is the reason he was never willing to come
forward. Dr. Pepper kept telling him that he did not have to worry,
because they do not want the truth, so you are not going to get
indicted. If they indict you, that will throw away all the "official"
story, which we now know is not
Question: There are many people out there who feel
that as long as these conspirators remain nameless and faceless there is
no true closure, and no justice.
Dexter King: No, he named the shooter. The shooter
was the Memphis Police Department Officer, Lt. Earl Clark who he named
as the killer. Once again, beyond that you had credible witnesses that
named members of a Special Forces team who didn't have to act because
the contract killer succeeded, with plausible denial, a Mafia contracted
Question: I'm sorry, my question goes to the
family's feelings. There are those who feel that as long as this greater
conspiracy that has remained faceless and nameless and until there are
faces and names attached to that conspiracy that justice will not be
served. The family doesn't share that view?
Dexter King: Well no, because we know. I guess I am
not making myself clear. There is an institutional framework on how
these things happen. So if you want to go back and do the research for
those who want to know who gives an order. I do know certain things
about the military, and the commander in chief has to make certain
commitments for certain troops to be committed domestically. In this
instance, there was denial that the troops were not there, Special
Forces were not there. But in fact, with the Captain of the Firehouse,
which Atty. Pepper had on the stand, said he put the Army Special Ops.
photographers on the roof. There was another witness that talked about
all the Army Officers, a Memphis Police Officer, an inspector who talked
about all the army brass that was there. He said that he had never seen
that much Army Brass in his office ever before. So all of this
information is there. It's just that no one has really looked. This is
the most incredible coverup of the century. I can't even believe it. It
is mindboggling. But again, if anybody wants to go do the research, and
we do live in an age of microwave society and everybody wants things
like that (very quickly), but if anyone is serious about sitting down
and going through this, they will come up with the same conclusions as
we did and 12 other people did as well.
Question: So the family doesn't necessarily want to
see those people spend time in jail?
Dexter King: No, we were never in this for a
retribution of justice. We follow the spirit of our loved one. He
forgave the woman who almost took his life, if you recall, when he was
stabbed. I personally witnessed my grandfather forgiving the killer of
his wife when I was 13 years of age. The only thing that this family and
I have ever talked about is reconciliation. We are a family of love. We
try to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. We are never looking to
put people in jail. What we are looking to do is cleanse the society
because these ills still exist. Just as my sister stated so eloquently,
it is not who killed Martin Luther King, Jr., but what killed him and
why was he killed. He was killed because he was addressing injustices
that today still have not been addressed.
Dexter King: So once again, we want to thank each
and every one of you for coming out. We are hopeful about whatever the
powers that be decide, but that is on them. But we caution you, be wary.
You will be hearing attacks that the family is in this for money. I can
tell you and I can show you the receipts. We have spent a lot of money.
And we have lost a lot of money because of this. There is no gain. As
you know, the verdict rendered a small, nominal sum. We requested a
hundred dollars because there had to be some damages, because it was a
wrongful death suit. We did that because we were never in this for
money. We spent money. We had to pay for some 70 odd witnesses to appear
and all their expenses. But you cannot put a price on freedom. And
certainly you cannot place a price on death. So the thing we hope for is
that we can move forward into this new millennium, coming into the
Question: Can you tell us something from your
conversation this morning with Mr. Jowers?
Dexter King: He simply stated that he wanted me to
know, as well as my family and my mother (he asked me about my mother),
that he is sorry for all of this. But he said that he is glad that it
turned out the way it did. He said what happens, happens. That he does
not know what will happen to him as he gets to his age. He is still
fearful as a result of all of this that he is going to go to prison. The
first time I met with him, that was the first thing he was concerned
about. He said, "I don't want to go to jail. I am an old man and I am so
afraid." Even though the Justice Department granted him federal
immunity, he is concerned and worried about the issue of state immunity,
the state of Tennessee. We assured him that if that were the case, we would certainly make
a stand to grantimmunity. We would support that kind of thing.
Question: Did he say anything in this conversation
about his role in the assassination?
Dexter King: Well not in this conversation, but on
several other occasions. At least two occasions that I met with him. At
another time he actually called names. It was somewhat of a confessional
thing, because he would call me sometimes late into the evening just to
talk. You could tell it was a cleansing process. Why does a person who
is almost, you know, terminal in a sense....even James Earl Ray was
offered a liver transplant he would've just said that he did it. Why
would someone take that to their graves? Especially if they had a chance
to have a little more life?
Question: This is to Mr. Pepper. Was there anything
that came out in the trial that you didn't know about?
William Pepper:LydiaCayton came forward when the
trial was about to begin. She lived just down the street from the
Lorraine Motel. On the afternoon of the shooting, she heard the shots
and grabbed her two children and ran down to the corner, about 8 minutes
after the shooting. One of her neighbors stood with her. She was the one
who saw a man run from an alley that connected to a building of the
rooming house, and get into a Chevrolet Corvair and drive around the
corner, while the police stood there on the corner of Mulberry. She also
saw a fireman screaming at the police that a shot came from the bushes.
Ms. Cayton's evidence and courage is very important. The courage of the
Fire Department Captain to come forward and talk about putting the
photographers up on the roof. These people were concerned and
frightened. That I think was significant. The testimony of the main
witness who talked to the cab driver who was killed, Louis Ward. And the
taxi driver who talked about the network television team, who drove to
the airport after they had given Mr. Jowers a lie detector test. This
was very important.
They gave Mr. Jowers a lie detector test at one point, and you will
hear that Mr. Jowers failed the lie detector test. They came in and told
him that he failed at the end of it. While this team was being driven to
the airport, they were talking about Jowers, and because he knew Mr.
Jowers, his ear perked up. He heard the examiner in the front seat say,
"There is nothing I can do to get him to waver." And the passengers in
the back, asking, "Well how does a man retain so much detail like that?
How can he recollect that so accurately?" The front seat passenger said
in reply, "I don't know, I couldn't get him to lie." And when a program
aired, Jowers was still shown as failing the lie detector test. That cab
driver came forward. Another cab driver and security guard, who lived
another 15 years, a man called James McGraw, came forward and he tried
not to testify, but eventually he did. He said, that a close friend of
Mr. Jowers got drunk and every time he was intoxicated over a period of
15 years, and they lived together, he would always go back to one thing
he did, that he, McGraw, after the assassination, was told by Jowers to
take this rifle and get rid of it. He threw it off of the
MemphisArkansasBridge into the Mississippi River
That is where the murder weapon has lain for 32 years. McGraw said he
would never talk about it when he was sober, always when he got drunk
and the details were always the same. Always the same. He found him
credible and McGraw was very close with Jowers. That is the kind of
evidence that emerged as the trial went on. The jury found all of this
persuasive. A Head of Intelligence, The United States Department
admitted that he had no trained intelligence officers in his office and
that even they were a nuisance at one point and time. The man who headed
the Protective Unit for Dr. King was never informed of the last visit.
He stated that they were told to protect him every time he came in
early, but not the last time. The man who learned about the change in
Dr. King's ,that he was supposed to be in room 201, a courtyard room.
That was then changed to room 206, which was an exposed balcony room.
Then there is the whole thing about the bushes…the bushes. So many
witnesses saw figures in the bushes and the shooter coming down over the
bushes and running. You know the next morning at 7 o'clock, Inspector
Sam Evans, from the Memphis Police Department pulled Maynard Styles, the
Administrator of the Public Works Department and told Mr. Styles to get
a team out there and cut those bushes down. At seven a.m., on the 5th of
April, a team is sent to cut down the bushes. Now what does that mean in
police terms? It means that you have totally devastated and changed the
scene of a crime so that it is never the same. If there are no bushes,
there can be no sniper. So that is the kind of thing that they did. This
The most moving testimony was probably that of a former government
operative, a very credible guy of the National Security Council, who is
now dying of liver cancer. His best friend was on the sniper unit, 20
Special Forces team there. He told how he learned about that unit and
how they were assigned and what they were to do from his buddy back in
the seventies. His testimony was riveting, even though it was on a
screen, because he was dying from liver cancer and could not attend.
There is so much evidence that emerged in the court about a whole range
of activity that if I summarize I am going to leave something out. I
encourage anyone who is interested to go and review the records, to
digest the records and look over them, and the exhibits that are all
available. There are certain military documents and certain names in
there, even some of my working papers are available. I am asked to
remind you that if anyone wants to communicate with me by email, you can
So I am happy to receive any inquiries at any time and any information
at any time. We have come to the end of a long road. I encourage you to
go and put questions to whoever you want to in government, for it is now
in the hands of the government to do whatever they will do. Hopefully,
it will not be to continue covering this up. But I would have to be
skeptical of any other result. Thank you.
KING FAMILY STATEMENT ON THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT "LIMITED
INVESTIGATION" OF THE MLK ASSASSINATION
ATLANTA . . . On behalf of The family of Martin Luther King, Jr,
Martin Luther King III today issued the following statement on the U.S.
Justice Department's release of its report on their "limited
investigation" of recent evidence regarding the assassination of Dr.
"We learned only hours before the Justice Department press conference
that they were releasing the report of their results of their "limited
investigation," which covered only two areas of new evidence concerning
the assassination of Dr. King. We had requested that we be given a copy
of the report a few days in advance so that we might have had the
opportunity to review it in detail. Since that courtesy was not extended
to us, we are only able at this time to state the following:
1. We initially requested that a comprehensive investigation be
conducted by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, independent of the
government, because we do not believe that, in such a
politically-sensitive matter, the government is capable of investigating
2. The type of independent investigation we sought was denied by the
federal government. But in our view, it was carried out, in a Memphis
courtroom, during a month-long trial by a jury of 12 American citizens
who had no interest other than ascertaining the truth. (Kings v. Jowers)
3. After hearing and reviewing the extensive testimony and evidence,
which had never before been tested under oath in a court of law, it took
the Memphis jury only 1½ hours to find that a conspiracy to kill Dr.
King did exist. Most significantly, this conspiracy involved agents of
the governments of the City of Memphis, the state of Tennessee and the
United States of America. The overwhelming weight of the evidence also
indicated that James Earl Ray was not the triggerman and, in fact, was
an unknowing patsy.
4. We stand by that verdict and have no doubt that the truth about this
terrible event has finally been revealed.
5. We urge all interested Americans to read the transcript of the trial
on the King Center website and consider the evidence, so they can form
their own unbiased conclusions.
Although we cooperated fully with this limited investigation, we never
really expected that the government report would be any more objective
than that which has resulted from any previous official investigation.
In a reasonable period of time, when we have had an opportunity to study
the report, we will provide a detailed analysis of it to the media and
on the aforementioned website."
The King Center thanks Daniel Dillinger Dominski Richberger
Weatherford, Inc for their support and assistance in making the posting
of this transcript possible. The King Center gratefully acknowledges the services & contributions
of the Data Company of Memphis, TN for trial graphics
Proceeds from your purchases support the mission of The King Center in
educating the world about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s philosophy and
methods of nonviolence in order to create the Beloved Community.
CIRCUITCOURTOFSHELBYCOUNTY , TENNESSEE
THIRTIETH JUDICIAL DISTRICT AT MEMPHIS
CORETTA SCOTT KING, MARTIN
LUTHER KING, III, BERNICE KING,
DEXTER SCOTT KING and YOLANDA
Vs. Case No. 97242-4 T.D.
LOYD JOWERS and OTHER UNKNOWN
BE IT REMEMBERED that the
above-captioned cause came on for Trial on
this, the 15th day of November,
1999, in the above Court, before the
Honorable James E. Swearengen, Judge presiding, when and where
COURT: I normally introduce those parties who are going to participate.
And if they are, I need their names.
DR. PEPPER: You want me to write
them down for you, Your Honor?
THE COURT: That has dual purposes
-- for my convenience and then, in
addition to that, once we have called their names, we're in a position
ask the jurors if they're familiar with their names.
DR. PEPPER: Sure. (Brief break
MR. PERA: Your Honor, for many
years -- and I should first say, Your Honor,
that all I know about this situation is what I've learned in the last 15
But as I say, for the record, I do represent The Commercial Appeal. I'm
out of breath. But my name is Lucian Pera. And since at least 1984 when
Supreme Court decided the Press Enterprise case -- Press Enterprise versus Superior
Court of California. And the cite
on that I can give you which is 464 U.S.501.
the Supreme Court has made it clear, as has virtually every court in the
nation -- has addressed the issue that there is a constitutional right
on the part
of members of the public and, therefore, members of the press to attend
dire proceedings in court. I would add, Your Honor, that in Tennesseethere have
been at least two cases on this point -- I believe three. The first one
is State versus Drake which is a 1985 case which squarely follows the
what are called the quartet of cases of which Press Enterprise is a part
U.S. Supreme Court. And that case requires that if there is a closure of
of a trial that there must be under the constitution specific findings
by the Court
on a motion by a party that there will be prejudice if there's not a
specifically how the closure is tailored as narrowly as possible to meet
compelling interest of preventing prejudice.
written findings. There have been at least two other cases since then,
Your Honor. I don't -- I can't cite you the precise name on this short
but I will remind the Court of one the Court may be familiar with
this county. I believe it was in front of a criminal court judge across
And essentially what happened is that there was -- it was a rather
gang-related murder case. In fact, it was one in which I believe the
literally buried alive. There were claims of misconduct ongoing in the
midst of the
trial. In fact, the Court itself was under 24-hour armed guard at home
and at the
office -- at the court. During the course of that trial, the judge heard
from witnesses obviously. And one of the witnesses who had testified was
again. The Court imposed a gag order essentially closing the trial
saying that the reporters might not print the name of that witness who
in open court and who was to further testify as a rebuttal witness. The
Court expressed very specific concerns about safety, that the witness
that the trial might be jeopardized for that reason. And the Court of
excuse me, I think it was the Court of Criminal Appeals -- specifically
and firmly reversed that ruling and said that what goes on in open court
and the constitution requires that it be so, and again reaffirming State
relying on Press Enterprise. So, Your Honor, with that thought in mind
I've not been privy to the discussions here about what the problem were
were sought to be addressed, and I apologize to the Court for not being
in that respect. But I would urge the Court to not close this hearing to
of media including my client, The Commercial Appeal.
THE COURT: All right.
MR. PERA: And, Your Honor, I
might finally request that in compliance with
versus Drake, whatever the Court's decision there, that there be
findings of fact tailored to address the issues under Press
THE COURT: All right. First of
all, I would like to refer you to Supreme Court Rule 30, Media
Guidelines, under Section C(2) which reads as follows: "Jury selection.
coverage of jury selection is prohibited."
MR. PERA: Your Honor, it's my --
am I interrupting? I can look at the rule, Your Honor,
but it's my impression that Rule 30 addresses television coverage and
similar media coverage. To the extent that that rule, Your Honor, either
says or is interpreted to mean that voir dire may be closed by a court
without constitutional foundation, the specifics which are very clear --
I can cite them to the Court if I can get my hands on State versus
If that rule says that or means
that or the Court interprets it to mean that, then
it is unconstitutional, Your Honor.
COURT: Well, let me further refer you to Section D, and that section
deals with limitations. And under 2 it says:
"Discretion of Presiding Judge."
"The presiding judge has the
discretion to refuse, limit, terminate or temporarily
suspend media coverage of an entire case or portions thereof in order to
the conduct of proceedings before the Court.
2.) Maintain the quorum and
prevent distraction. 3.)" -- and this one I am concerned
with --"Guarantee the safety of any party, witness or juror." This case
is such that
I feel that the jurors should be protected from public scrutiny and that
shall not be aware of who they are. I don't want -- and I'm going to
assure them when
we voir dire them that they will remain anonymous. And for that reason
they will feel
free to participate in the trial process. That's my ruling.
MR. PERA: Your Honor, may I be
heard on this point?
MR. PERA: Okay. Your Honor,
meaning no disrespect, may I ask -- may I ask a question?
THE COURT: Yes, sir.
MR. PERA: Has this Court
considered or has it been proposed to the Court that the jurors remain
anonymous and therefore that proceedings be allowed to take place in
with, for example, members of the public and/or media present but
nevertheless with the jurors remaining anonymous? Has that been
THE COURT: No, sir, because I
don't feel that that's a viable solution.
MR. PERA: May I ask a further
inquiry, Your Honor?
THE COURT: Yes, sir.
MR. PERA: Is it the Court's
ruling that the entire trial is going to be held in secret?
THE COURT: No, sir. Once the jury
selection process is completed, then it
open to the media as prescribed by court rules with cameras and with
and all of that. This court is not excluding the media from the trial
proceeding, but it
is excluding them from the jury selection process.
MR. PERA: Well, Your Honor, again
-- the Court knows me, and the Court knows that I'm not inclined to
argue with a ruling once it's been made. But since I'm getting into this
so late, Your Honor, I have to inquire further. Your Honor, if -- I'm
not at all sure I understand how this is tailored narrowly under the
guidelines of the constitution.
I mean, for example, Your Honor,
if -- if the identities of the jurors is what the Court is trying to
protect, then -- and not, for example, their answers to the questions of
one of the parties as to their particular biases or lack of biases, it
seems to me that the Court might consider having the jurors, as has been
done across the country, I think the Court is probably aware
-- having the jurors remain anonymous and have the parties to the case
Court refer to them in whatever way would do so anonymously but,
nevertheless, allow the
questioning that goes to, for example, bias -- their views on particular
be explored in open court as the constitution requires. I would urge
that upon the Court
as a remedy that has been used elsewhere. And it would not trample on
the First Amendment
but it would, nevertheless, meet the Court's concerns.
THE COURT: I'm going to deny your
MR. PERA: Your Honor, when --
you're ruling then that until voir dire is complete and the jury is
sworn that this hearing is closed both to members of the press and the
COURT: You may, yes, sir. But if you do, then you would be under a gag
order. As an officer of the Court you could sit, yes, sir.
MR. PERA: But another member of
the public could be present and not be under some sort of gag order?
THE COURT: I'm going to exclude
all members of the public, as a matter of fact, during the jury
selection process. I'm not going to let reporters come in here and say,
at this time I'm not a reporter, I'm just a member of John Q. Public.
MR. PERA: Okay, Your Honor. I
just wanted to make sure I understand your ruling then. The hearing is
closed to members of the press and the public until the jury is sworn.
THE COURT: And the public. And
the public, yes, sir.
MR. PERA: May I -- I assume that
what has transpired here so far, I'm under no gag order; is that
correct, Your Honor? Because I may well be instructed by
THE COURT: All right. Ladies and
Gentlemen, we have completed our process. We have
12 jurors now and two are alternates. So the rest of you I'm going to
excuse and thank you for your patience, and you can report to the main
jury room tomorrow at 9:30.
All right. Now that we have
selected or jurors and alternates, we would ask to you please stand and
take the official oath as jurors in the case.
THE CLERK: Ladies and Gentlemen,
please raise your right hand.
(Whereupon the jury was sworn
THE CLERK: Okay. Please be
THE COURT: All right. Normally at
this stage we would begin our trial which would be the rendering of an
by the lawyers. That is they would tell you what they expect the proof
to be as
it develops in the case, and then we would start to hear the witnesses
in the case. But
because of the hour, I'm going to excuse you and ask you to be here
tomorrow at 9:45 so
that we can get started promptly at 10 o'clock, reminding you that you
should not speak
with the lawyers or the witnesses or anyone else involved in the case
and that you should have no contact with the media. I think -- I'll have
some additional instructions for you tomorrow before we start to hear
the proof. You should not go back to the main jury room for any reason.
You come directly here from now on which means that you don't report at
the regular 9:30 thing over there. Just come right here. Mr. James will
show you our jury facility back here, and that's where you should
congregate until you come out as a group.
We would ask you -- sometimes the jurors would sit out in the hall and
do things of that sort before the trial begins
in a normal case. But because of the
nature of this one and because we don't want you to
be exposed to the media, we would ask you to please not congregate in
the hallways out
there. If there are smokers in the crowd, then during our breaks, you
can feel free to
go down and do your smoking or whatever else just as long as you don't
have any contact
with the media. If we -- if for any reason we need to take a comfort
break on your behalf, we're very considerate, we'll do that. We want
this to be a pleasant experience for you.
But it's a serious matter, and let's not forget that. All right.
Proceeds from your purchases support the mission of The King Center in
educating the world about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s philosophy and
methods of nonviolence in order to create the Beloved Community.
MR. PERA: Your Honor, good
morning. I have a couple preliminary matters related to the matter you
have on trial. May I address the Court this morning?
THE COURT: Let me get my orders
MR. PERA: Okay. I thought that
was done, Your Honor. That's why I approached.
THE COURT: Any additional orders?
Okay. Go ahead, Mr. Pera.
MR. PERA: As you know, I'm Lucian
Pera. I represent the Commercial Appeal. First, your Honor, I have an
order on yesterday's proceedings as to our motion for access -- I have
served this on counsel for the parties -- that both grants -- both
denies my motion for access, grants our status as an intervenor for our
purpose and grants the Rule 9
motion that you orally granted yesterday.
THE COURT: All right.
MR. PERA: Does that meet with
your approval, your Honor? There are two other matters, your
Honor, I want to present. One is a motion we filed this morning. As I
understand it, although, of course, I wasn't here and my client wasn't
in the courtroom, voir dire has been completed.
We have moved -- filed a motion
with the Court, I'm not sure if the Court has received it yet, for
access -- immediate access as soon as practicable to the transcript of
voir dire proceedings. We have filed a motion and would ask the Court to
grant us immediate access to the transcript of the voir dire proceedings
held in this case.
I'll obviously give a moment to
counsel. I'm anticipating one of two possible results. I've actually
prepared an order. Since I know my client may be interested in an
appeal, I will share this with Mr. Pepper and Mr. Garrison.
There is one other matter, Your
Honor. That is my partner Ms. Leizure is in a better position to address
it than I. We know the Court has granted access to the trial to the
broadcast media, but under Rule 30 we would also, as the Court knows, do
use still photographers and would request and have filed a motion
yesterday afternoon by access by one of our still photographers to the
If the Court needs to hear that
addressed from a legal point of view under Rule 30, my partner, Ms.
Leizure, can address that.
THE COURT: As for still
photography, I'll have to refer to the rule, which does allow it, but it
the provisions are that you can limit it to two still photographers.
THE COURT: Who are you?
MS. LEIZURE: I'm sorry, Your
Honor. I'm Kathy Leizure. I'm Mr. Pera's partner. I represent the
THE COURT: Kathy who?
MS. LEIZURE: I'm Kathy Leizure. I
believe the provision is, your Honor, you can limit it to two still
photographers who are using no more than two cameras each.
THE COURT: I intend to abide by
MS. LEIZURE: Okay, Your Honor.
THE COURT: It says if there are
more than two, if we're going to have still photography in the
courtroom, you'll have to work it out among yourselves. If they can't
work it out among themselves, then I'm going to disallow all of it.
MS. LEIZURE: I understand, Your
Honor. There is a provision in here for pooling arrangements, which I
would be happy
to try to work out if I know, you
know, what other media have been granted access pursuant
to this rule for still photography purposes.
THE COURT: I intend to abide by
the rules. It is for that same reason that I disallowed the presence of
media during the jury selection. All right. Assuming that there are no
others who want to have still photographers in the room, I'll allow
yours, but if it comes to a point where there are more than the rule
allows, if you can work it out among yourselves, I'll do that. If not,
as I said, I'm going to disallow all of them, because I'm not going to
become involved in a dispute over who can and who cannot.
MS. LEISURE: I understand, Your
Honor. I understand. So I will advise my client that they can bring the
still photographer in within the provisions, the criteria and guidelines
of the rules.
THE COURT: The other thing is
that I have instructed all of them that they are not to photograph my
MS. LEIZURE: That's right. That's
certainly a provision that is in the rule. That's understood.
THE COURT: Yes.
MR. PEPPER: May I be heard, Your
MR. PERA: I've provided this
THE COURT: Just a moment. Go
ahead, Mr. Pepper.
MR. PEPPER: Thank you, Your
Honor. Your Honor, the family has its own still photographer who would
like to be present in the courtroom and will abide by all of the rules.
It is Mr. Benedict Fernandez, who for nearly forty years has followed
the history of Dr. King's work and these proceedings.
MR. PERA: Your Honor, if I could
pass the order for immediate access to is the transcript. Mr. Garrison
and Mr. Pepper have approved that order, although I haven't actually
signed that original. Thank you, your Honor. I appreciate you hearing
THE COURT: Yes. Mr. Garrison, are
MR. GARRISON: Yes, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Mr. Pepper?
MR. PEPPER: Yes.
THE COURT: Bring the jury out,
THE COURT: Good morning, ladies
and gentlemen. Glad to see that everybody made it this morning.
Yesterday I inadvertently omitted one of the Court personnel. I should
have introduced him. I have to constantly remind him that I'm elected by
the residents of ShelbyCountyand that he is not my boss. It is my court
clerk, Mr. Brian Bailey over
here. I think I introduced everybody else. Before we begin the trial,
I'm going to give you some preliminary facts that you can refer to
during the course of this trial. Before the trial begins, I'm going to
give you some instructions to help you
understand how the case will proceed, what your duties many be, and how
you should conduct yourselves during the trial. When I have completed
these instructions, the attorneys will make their opening statements.
These statements will be brief outlines of what the attorneys expect to
be evidence. After the opening statements, you will hear the evidence.
The evidence generally consists of the numbered exhibits and testimony
of witnesses. The plaintiffs will present evidence first. The defendant
will then be given the opportunity to present evidence.
Normally the plaintiff presents
all of the plaintiff's evidence before the other
parties present any evidence.
Exceptions are sometimes made out of this usually to accommodate a
witness. The witnesses will testify in response to questions from the
attorneys. Witnesses are first asked questions by the party who calls
the witness to testify, and then other parties are permitted to
cross-examine the witness.
Although evidence is preserved my
asking questions, the questions themselves are not evidence. Any
insinuation contained in a question is not evidence. You should consider
a question only as it gives meaning to the witness' answer. Evidence may
be presented by
deposition. A deposition is testimony taken under oath before the trial
and preserved in
writing or sometimes it will be videotaped. During the trial objections
may be made to the evidence or trial procedures. I may sustain
objections to questions asked without permitting the witness to answer
or I may instruct you to disregard an answer that
has been given. In deciding this
case you may not draw an inference from an unanswered
question, and you may not consider testimony that you are instructed to
disregard. Any arguments about objection or motions are usually required
to be made by the attorneys out of the hearing of the jury. Information
may be excluded because it is not legally admissible. Excluded
information cannot be considered in reaching your decision. A ruling
that is made on an objection or motion will be based solely upon the
law. You must not infer from a ruling that I hold any view or opinion
for or against any parties to this lawsuit. When all of the evidence has
been presented to you, the attorneys will make their closing arguments.
The attorneys will point out to you what they contend the evidence has
shown, what inferences you should draw from the evidence and what
conclusions you should reach as your
verdict. The plaintiff will make
the first argument and will be followed by the defendant. Plaintiff will
then respond to the defendant's arguments. Unless you are otherwise
instructed, statements made by the attorneys are not evidence. Those
statements are made only to help you understand the evidence and apply
the law to the evidence. You should ignore any statement that is not
supported by the evidence.
After the arguments are made, I
will instruct you on the rulings of law that apply to the case. It is
your function as jurors to determine what facts -- what the facts are
and apply the rules of law that I have given you to the facts that you
have found. You will determine the facts from all of the evidence. You
are the sole and exclusive judges of the facts. On the other hand, you
are required to accept the rules of law that I give you, whether you
agree with them or not.
must determine which of the
witness' testimony you accept, what weight you attach to it and what
inferences you will draw from it. The law does not, however, require you
to accept all of the evidence in deciding what evidence you will accept.
You must make your own evaluation of the testimony given by each of the
witnesses and determine the weight you will give to that testimony. You
must decide which witnesses you believe and how important you
think their testimony is. You are not required to accept or reject
everything a witness says. You are free to believe all, none or part of
any person's testimony. In deciding which testimony you believe, you
should rely on your own common sense and every-day experiences. There is
no fixed set of rules to use in deciding whether you believe a witness,
but it may help you to think of the following questions:
Was the witness able to see, hear
or be aware of the things about which the witness testifies?
describe those things? How long
was the witness watching or listening? Was the witness distracted in any
way? Did the witness have a good memory? How did the witness look and
while testifying? Was the witness making an honest effort to tell the
truth or did the
witness evade questions? Did the witness have an interest in the outcome
of the case? Did the witness have any motive, bias or prejudice that
would influence the witness' testimony? How reasonable was the witness'
testimony when you consider all of the evidence in the case?
There are certain rules that
would apply concerning your conduct during the trial and during recesses
that you should keep in mind. First, do not conduct your own
investigation into the case, although you may be tempted do so. For
example, do not visit the scene of an incident, read any books or
articles concerning any issue in the case or consult any other source of
information. If you were
to do that, you would be getting
information that is not evidence. You must decide the case only on the
evidence and law presented to you during the trial. Any juror who
information about the case other than that presented at the trial must
notify the Court
immediately. Do not discuss the case either among yourselves or with
anyone else during the trial.
You must keep an open mind until
you have heard all the evidence, the attorneys' closing arguments and my
final instructions concerning the law. Any discussion before the
conclusion of the case would be premature and improper.
Do not permit any other person to
discuss the case in your presence. If anyone does attempt to do so,
report that fact to the Court immediately without discussing the
incident with any of the other jurors. Do not speak to any of the
attorneys, parties or witnesses in the case even for the limited purpose
of saying good morning. They are
also instructed not to talk to
you. In no other way can all of the parties feel assured of your
absolute impartiality. All right. There are a couple of additional
comments I would like to make. I know that when you are over in the big
room, the jury commissioner probably tells you don't ever leave anything
lying around. I just want you to know that we have not had any unhappy
experiences, that your personal affects are considered to be safe in the
So if you have sweaters or coats
or lunches or whatever else, then you can feel pretty safe leaving them
back there while you are here or while you are gone to lunch. Also, if
we need to take a comfort break, let us know and we'll be glad to
accommodate you. We want to make this a pleasant experience for
everyone. We would ask you to be on time whenever we are supposed to
congregate. We'd hate to have to be waiting on someone who is
disrespectful of the others and for some
Finally, I know that sometimes,
usually after lunch, but any time of day you can become weary and just
can't keep your eyes open. So I am going to designate each of you and
authorize you to nudge your neighbor if you catch them dozing on us. All
right. As I promised, the attorneys will give their opening statements,
that is, they will tell you what they expect the proof to be in this
case. After they have done that, we will begin to hear the proof.
As I told you, this is a case on
conspiracy. Conspiracy I guess in general terms would mean carrying out
a design or plan where two or more have agreed to commit an act to do
injury or damage. And the planning, of course, is not enough. They have
to, in addition to the planning, do an act pursuant to that plan in
order to be a co-conspirator.
All right. The plaintiff will
begin. Then after the defendant has given
their opening statement, we will
start to hear the proof in the case.
MR. PEPPER: Thank you, Your
Honor. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. On the 3rd of
April, 1968, loving husband, father of four young children kissed his
family goodbye and left for Memphis , Tennessee. He would never return. They would never see him alive again.
On the 4th of April, 1968,
approximately one minute past six in the evening as he stood on a
balcony overlooking a parking area of the Lorraine Motel, he was felled
by a single bullet, never regained consciousness and died shortly
That, ladies and gentlemen, is
the beginning of this story. The plaintiff in this case, the victim, was
a husband and a father, but he also was a prophetic figure in American
history. He had been a civil rights leader as a young man after school
and in his early pastor's years, but he moved beyond
that calling, beyond that calling
on behalf of the poor in the southern part of this
country, in this area of this country, to become an international figure
the plight of poor people, economic injustice and with the issues of
peace and war.
So as he grew in his leadership
and his calling, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. With that award
he became truly an international figure, not a regional pastor fighting
for justice on behalf of his people. He then turned his attention to the
plight of poor people and the effect of war.
He came out strongly during the
last year of his life to oppose the war in
Vietnambecause he saw it destroying an ancient culture and
civilization that had so much in common with the plight of black people
and the poor everywhere in the world. So he opposed that war.
He also turned his attention to
the plight of poor people, the growing numbers of poor in the
United States, and had put together a
poor people's campaign that was to
descend on WashingtonD.C.in the spring of 1968, the very spring in which he was
assassinated. That March an encampment did come off but without its
leader. As such, it is history now that it did not have the impact that
it might have had on the Congress of the United States. The victim was, of
course, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr...
The defendant in this case, Mr.
Loyd Jowers, who owned Jim's Grill, which was at the ground floor of a
rooming house on South Main Street in Memphis at the time. It no longer
exists, but the building is still there.
Your Honor has quite correctly
advised you not to go near the scene of this crime because it has
changed so much over the years. It would only be very confusing for you.
That is the reason for that instruction.
At that time and now that
building backed onto an area, like a vacant lot area or a backyard. That
backyard was covered with brush and bushes, and beyond it was the
Lorraine Motel and the balcony on which
Martin Luther King stood when he
was assassinated. The defendant managed and owned that grill, and the
plaintiffs will attempt to prove that the wrongful acts and conduct of
this defendant led to the death of Martin Luther King from behind his
very premises, from the bushes, the brush in that area.
Now, by way of disclosure to you,
counsel for both parties have agreed not to conduct any interviews with
the media, not to talk to the press at all, during the course of this
trial. The Court has so instructed you with respect to that. We think
that is a most important
instruction, and, in addition, plaintiffs would hope that you would
about the issues of this case and the facts that are presented and the
comes before you and not considering what is on television or radio or
in the newspapers
regarding this case.
We would ask you please consider
staying away from any coverage of that sort
and make your decision solely on
what you hear in this courtroom. It is most important.
Also by way of disclosure I have
the obligation to tell you that I was a friend and a colleague of the
victim in this case during only the last year of his life. Years later I
began to look into the facts of this case and ultimately became
convinced that the man accused of the crime was not guilty and undertook
to represent him and was his lawyer for the last ten years of his life.
He died in prison, never having a
trial on the evidence in the case. And the plaintiff family decided that
this man also was innocent of the crime and decided to come out and
support a trial for him a few years before he died.
Now, the Court has properly
instructed you with respect to the nature of the evidence. There will be
mostly live witnesses, but there will also be some deposition evidence
that you will hear, some affidavits, some public statements, and the
Court will advise you as to the
range of voracity you should put on any evidence that is admitted in
this Court. But it will not all be live testimony, although indeed most
of it will.
With respect to the plaintiff's
proof, it is -- the case will be divided into a variety of sections. It
is important to us that you consider those sections in the order as it
There will be a general introductory background area of the case that
will familiarize yourself with what led up to this wrongful death so
that will be hopefully as clear to you as can be.
There will then be evidence laid
before you that will indicate that in fact the fatal bullet was fired
from the brush area behind the rooming house, from a row of bushes that
were very tall and thick where a sniper lay in wait and fired the shot.
So that section will deal with the bushes.
There will be a section of proof
that will deal with the rifle that is in evidence that is alleged to
have caused the
death of Dr. King. And the proof
that the plaintiffs will put forward will demonstrate to you that in
fact the rifle in evidence is not the murder weapon and that the murder
weapon was disposed of in another way.
Plaintiffs will advance proof
that there were a number of other people involved. As Your Honor has
correctly told you, of course a conspiracy involves more than one.
Whilst this case is focusing in a civil court on Mr. Jowers as the
defendant, there were other people involved. And some of those
individuals will be developed in evidence.
In particular one individual will
be developed in evidence who was critical to the coordination of a lot
of these activities and who is beyond the reach of this Court, although
will be invited, has been invited, and will be invited to attend, but
was a part
of this conspiracy, this collaboration with Mr. Jowers.
Now, defendants have in their
answer, their amended answer, indicated that
if liability results, and counsel
has mentioned that yesterday, if liability results, attaches to his
client, that it should also attach to other agencies and individuals.
Because that door is open,
plaintiffs will advance evidence of the extent and the scope of this
conspiracy so that you understand the umbrella under which the defendant
was operating, so it is clear to you the kind of total picture in which
he found himself as he carried out his wrongful acts which led to this
One indication of this
conspiracy, why we are here thirty-one years later in this courtroom in
Memphis, Tennessee, is the suppression of the truth, the cover-up that
has lasted for so long and the effects of that cover-up in terms of
people learning the truth and courts, such as this Court, being able to
entertain proceedings designed to unearth that truth.
This cover-up itself and that
section of the case would show you
indications of the wrong and will
relate directly to the wrong itself that we are proving here and
Now, because these witnesses will
come from various parts of the country and various parts of the world, I
must say, we've had to adjust to various schedules of people. So to some
extent the evidence you hear up there may be disjointed. But what I ask
you to consider is that each of the witnesses who testify with respect
to facts will be putting forward to you a particular piece of this
puzzle. And they are being called only for -- he or she will be called
only for that particular piece. So you must discern what that is in each
Yes, there will be an
introductory statement so that you get to know the witness and who the
witness is, get a feeling for whether he or she is credible. But beyond
that there will be a piece of information. It would be very useful in
our view for you, if you could, to take notes in the course of these
proceedings. I know the
State I understand does not
provide you with note paper or pads in this jurisdiction. But if you
could provide yourselves with them just to make notes of particular
facts that you think are relevant that a witness has testified to or an
exhibit that you might want to look at further or later on during
deliberations, that would be very helpful to you when you begin to
refresh your own recollections, because there will be a lot of
information coming out.
There will be a great deal of
information coming out from a number of witnesses. You may very well
expect to forget some of it unless you have noted it down so you
understand what they said. I urge you to consider using that, to use
some mechanical way of recalling what has happened.
I think that's basically it. I
think plaintiffs believe that as a result of the evidence you will hear
in this courtroom, that finally the truth will emerge in respect of the
assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. He often said that
truth-crushed earth will rise
again. Well, I think plaintiffs sincerely hope that the
truth will be resurrected in this courtroom. And that as a result of the
resurrected in this courtroom, the events, those horrible events of
April 4th, 1968, will be unearthed and seen and understood.
Ladies and gentlemen, prepare
yourselves for the resurrection of truth with respect to that horrible
day, April 4, 1968. And I suggest to you that some of the evidence you
hear may go to the essence of this Republic and may in fact shake some
of the foundations of this Republic. So important is this case, so
important is the evidence, please consider it carefully and well.
We seek a verdict of liability
against the defendant because he played a critical role in these events.
But it goes well beyond him. And we're prepared to acknowledge and to
MR. GARRISON: If Your Honor
please and Dr. Pepper and ladies and gentlemen, as you know, I'm Lewis
Garrison. I represent Mr. Jowers, who is the defendant in this case.
I'd like to say this: I started
forty years ago in this practice of law in August, and on April the 6th,
1968, I was about three hundred feet from this very spot in my desk when
Dr. King was assassinated.
Now, Dr. Pepper and I agree on
probably eighty percent of the things that he is advocating and stating
to you. There are some areas that we do not agree upon. I'll touch on
Ladies and gentlemen, April 4th,
1968, this city was racially divided. November 16, 1999, it is still
racially divided. I'm sorry to tell you, it is. It is an error we need
to work on, and I hope this trial will bring out some things that
perhaps will have some bearing on that.
Mr. Jowers has been around the
City of Memphisa long time. He is a former
police officer. When this
occurred in 1968, he was operating a small restaurant called Jim's
Now, you'll find that any part
that he -- he has conferred with Mr. Dexter King and Ambassador Young
and told them some things that he knew and heard, but I think you will
find that he was a very small part, if any -- if any -- in the
assassination of Dr. King. He was simply operating a little restaurant
South Main Street
Anything that Mr. Jowers may have
had to do with this certainly was unknown to him. He was never told that
the target of an assassination was Dr. King. Certainly his feelings are
that he was at sympathy with Dr. King and certainly for the things that
Dr. King was seeking.
Certainly Ms. King and her family
have been made to suffer more than any family should. There is no
question about that. They've had to go through more than a family should
have to go through. We're certainly in sympathy with them and have
always have been behind Dr. King
and the things that he was seeking. When I was growing up, not too far
from here, we had separate rest rooms, separate water fountains, those
type things, separate schools. It doesn't seem like it was very long
ago. But after Dr. King came
along, those things came to some extent, but we still take too much of
our rights for granted. It has not always been the way it is now.
In this trial you will hear from
different persons that will bring forth things that you probably never
heard before. For instance, there will be a police officer that will
testify here about the United Statesgovernment sending in agents just before Dr. King's
assassination. You'll hear a lady here testify about a police officer
who was her husband who was very prejudiced against people whose skin
was not white.
You'll hear, ladies and
gentlemen, from a gentleman who will also tell you that he had a chance
to be with Mr. James Earl Ray
for some months before the
assassination, and he'll provide information to you as to what
Mr. Ray disclosed to him as to how he escaped from the Missouri prison,
who helped him, and
the purpose of it.
I think, ladies and gentlemen,
you'll find in this case that Mr. Jowers was a very, very small cog in a
big wheel, if he was a party at all. He never knowingly did anything
that would have caused the death of Dr. King or brought any hardship on
Ms. King or her family.
Now, this has been a long
process. I've been involved it seems like forever. It has been many,
many years. Dr. Pepper has been involved in this three times as long as
I have. But this is the final chapter.
Whatever historians may write,
your verdict will be the final chapter in this case. So in this case I
think when you hear all the testimony here and all the proof that Dr.
Pepper will offer and I'll offer, I'm going to be able to stand here and
ask you not only if you find that Mr. Jowers had
anything to do with it, but there
are others who are much more responsible than he was who
knew what they were doing and who brought about the commission of this
hate crime. That's what it was. And that others are responsible and that
they should be held liable instead of Mr. Jowers. It will be an
interesting trial. I think that you will certainly find it interesting,
and I hope that you do. If you will listen attentively, because this is
a very important case in the history of this country.
THE COURT: Mr. Pepper, call your
first witness, please.
MR. PEPPER: Plaintiffs call Mrs.
Coretta Scott King to the stand. CORETTA SCOTT KING
Having been first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
Q. Thank you for being here. I
realize how stressful it is at the time, particularly
because of the gauntlet of the media out there. We're grateful for your
presence. Could you just tell us by way of background what was the
purpose of Dr. King's visit to Memphis ,
his involvement in Memphisand his coming here in 1968.
A. Martin came to
Memphisto support the sanitation workers who were engaged in a strike for
better wages and working conditions. He felt it was important to come to
support them because they were working poor people.
Q. And how did the sanitation
workers' strike and his support for that fit into the Poor People's
March in Washingtonwhich had been planned for later
on, the spring?
A. He felt that it was important
that he give his support to them because they were a part of what he was
really struggling to get the nation to understand, that people work
full-time jobs but in a sense for part-time
pay. Even people who were poor
who worked could not make a decent living. So they would then be invited
to join the mobilization for the campaign which was to be held in
Q. Right. And was this support --
his support for the sanitation workers in Memphis and the plans for the
Poor People's March in Washington to be covered by the umbrella of
non-violence at all times?
A. Absolutely. He felt that -- as
you know, his whole life was dedicated to non-violent struggle. Any time
there was violence of any kind, it was very disturbing to him, and he
disavowed it completely and whenever he had an opportunity to. He
dedicated his life to helping people to understand the philosophy of
non-violence, which he lived it as a way of
life. And so when he came to Memphis -- I don't know, Counsel, should I
mention that he -- I don't want to get ahead of myself, but when he came
to Memphis the first time and there was a march that he led
which his organization had very
little to do with planning, that broke out in violence. It was very,
very upsetting to him because most of the marches, I would say all of
them, that he had led had always been mobilized with the support of the
National Southern Christian Leadership Conference staff. Therefore, they
were aware of any problems, any controversies that might exist,
conflicts between groups and among groups. But he came that day from a
trip, got off the plane and went straight to the head of the march. Of
course, the march did
break out in violence. It was most disturbing to him. So when he -- when
this happened, he
felt that it was very important for him to return to Memphis to lead a
peaceful, non-violent march before he could go forth to Washington. He
had to demonstrate that a non-violent march, a peaceful march, could
take place in Memphisbecause of the criticisms that were
being leveled at that time.
Q. So he returned to
Memphisthat last time because of the violence that broke out on the march of
March 28th, and he was determined, from what you are saying, to restore
the position of non-violence to the movement?
A. Yes, that's correct.
Q. Did he attribute -- did he
have any idea why that march on March 28th turned violent? Did he have
any notion of what caused that?
A. Well, I think he became aware
that there was a local -- well, he thought at the time what was a local
group of young people who really precipitated the violence. The feeling
was that there were some forces behind them, that they were not just
persons who decided that they would throw rocks and break windows.
Q. Now, what was behind or
underlay his decision to come out against the war in
Vietnamand to take on such a public political posture, if you
will, which was quite a different change for him?
A. I must say that my husband had
wanted to speak out against the war in
Vietnamfor many years before he actually did do so. He always --
he understood the conflict that existed in Vietnamfrom its
inception. And he realized that it was an unjust war in the first place.
Then it was being fought against, you know, people of color who were
poor. And wars, of course, for him didn't solve any social problems but
created more problems than they solved.
He felt that this particular war was not -- we could not win. Of course,
history proved him right within a very short period of time after he
spoke out. As a matter of fact, one year after he spoke out against the
war, he was vindicated in that the nation had reversed itself and its
policy toward that war.
That was April 4th, 1968, when he
actually spoke out against the war in his first public statement. But he
said he had to do it because his conscience -- he could no longer live
with his conscience without
taking a position. He felt that
doing so, perhaps he could help to mobilize other public opinion in
support of his position, which was, again, against the war.
Q. Do you recall the reaction of
other civil rights leaders at that time when he came out against the
A. Yes, I do. Civil rights
leaders, other opinion makers, all criticized him, both black and white.
It was certainly -- certainly he expected it, but he probably didn't
expect some of the people who criticized him to do so publicly. His way
in the non-violent way was to privately disagree and to go and talk to
persons which are having a disagreement, but to be attacked publicly was
very difficult for him. He also knew that if he spoke out, it would
probably affect the support, the financial support, for his
organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. And, of
course, it did very profoundly. He knew that before he took that risk
and that position. So it wasn't
Q. Was there much discussion at
the time about him running for public office because he was being pushed
forward as a third-party candidate with Dr. Benjamin Spock as an
alternative to Lyndon Johnson's being returned to office at that time?
What do you recall about him moving in that direction of more serious
A. Well, I was aware of the fact
that there was talk about his running for public office. It was
interesting because from what I knew of him, I never thought that he
would run for public office. Just knowing the kind of person he was, and
because, you know, politics is very important and necessary, but he
would be freer to make statements according to his conscience if he
didn't run for public office, and because he was Christian minister and
because he took his commitment so seriously, I felt that it would have
been difficult for him. But at the same time I remember him
saying that because of the
criticisms that he had gotten as he had spoken out against the
war, the media had stopped carrying any of his statements and they
didn't understand --
no one was getting his message, because the message wasn't being carried
forth. There were a number of critical articles and some cover stories
that were very critical of him at that time. Time magazine, for
instance, did one in 1967 that was extremely critical. He had been the
Time man of the year in 1964 after the Peace Prize, and 1957 was the
first time, so it
was, again, very painful for him not to be able to get his message out.
So he said if I did run for office, it would be one way of getting my
message out because I would have to be given equal time. The interesting
thing about my husband, he always considered, you know,
every aspect of an issue, both the pros and the cons. And then he would
make his mind up as to what he would do.
the night before his departure to
Memphis, that last trip, any indications that he had of potential danger
or the seriousness of the task that he faced in Memphis?
A. I don't remember specific
comments in that regard. But he had -- after he returned from Memphis
after the violence broke out, which was like on a Friday evening, he
went back on a Tuesday -- he went back on --
Q. He arrived on a Wednesday, the
A. -- on Wednesday morning. But
in between that time I was aware of how heavily it weighed on him, the
problem of -- this whole problem of the sanitation workers' conflict and
what he could do to help by getting his staff united. Because some of
the staff didn't feel he should go to Memphisin the first place. He was very
strongly in favor of that.
So he came home late -- I guess
it was Tuesday evening he came in. There was not time to talk. He got up
very early Wednesday morning to go to Memphis. He always called
me, you know, almost every
night when he was on trips, so he
didn't say whole lot about it, but I could tell that he had a lot of
anxiety and it was very heavily weighing on his mind.
Q. Did he go through these times,
and particularly this last year, manifesting an awareness that his life
was in danger, that he had taken a path of action now that might have
brought his life into danger?
A. Yes. I think he was aware of
that certainly. I might say he was aware from the early days after
Montgomery, Montgomeryforward, but I think as he got
closer toward this period of his life, he was even more acutely aware.
Given the positions that he had taken, he realized that, you know, he
could be killed at any time, but for him, his commitment to what he
believed and to a higher authority was such that he didn't mind giving
his life for a cause that he believed in.
He used to say that the end of
life is not to be happy but to do God's will, come
what may. So for him being happy
was when he could come out against the war against
Vietnam. He said to a colleague, and I heard this on the
telephone, I was the happiest man in the world when I could come out
personally against this evil and immoral war, because I came to a point
where I felt that silence was betrayal.
So that was -- I think that was
Q. Mrs. King, on March 10th,
1969, one James Earl Ray entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to
ninety-nine years in prison for the assassination of your husband. Mr.
stayed in prison until he died. But he tried continually to get a trial.
At one point the family decided to support an effort for a trial for Mr.
Ray. Why did the family take that position that late in the day at that
point in time?
A. Well, as a matter of fact, it
was because he of new information that we had received and largely
because of the efforts that you had put forth to investigate a
number of these leads that had
come out and found that they were reliable enough. When we looked at it
and investigated it, we felt then that we had to take a position. For
years we hoped that somebody else would find out, find the answers. We
wanted to know the truth. But
the truth was elusive.
We wanted to go on with our
lives. We felt the only way we could do it was to really take the
position that we did take, because the evidence pointed away from Mr.
Ray, not that he might have not had some involvement but he was not the
person we felt that really actually killed him.
THE COURT: Just a moment. I see
this man aiming a camera at my jury. I don't know that he has been told
DEPUTY JAMES: I've instructed him
not to take it of the jury.
THE COURT: All right. Go ahead.
Q. (BY MR. PEPPER) What was the
general reaction to the family as a result of that
position? Were there animosity?
Were there attacks, lawsuits? What happened to the family, yourself and
the children and the organization as a result of that position?
A. Well, there were a number of
media articles that were negative toward the family. As a result of that
-- there were several really and over a period of months, and as a
result of it, we feel that there was some -- it had affected some of the
support that we might have been able to receive for the King Center.
Q. Financial support?
A. Financial support, yes.
Q. Is that similar to what
happened to SCLC back in 1967?
A. That's right.
Q. Mrs. King, why is the family
bringing this action now thirty -- almost thirty-one years later against
the defendant, Mr. Jowers?
we realized the extent of Mr.
Jowers' involvement. So we felt that it was important to bring it now.
We're all getting older, I'll say, and, of course, we wanted to be able
to get the truth, as much of it as we can, out before it gets later.
I don't know how much longer any
of us will be around. That's not given. But the fact is that my family,
my children and I -- I've always felt that somehow the truth would be
known, and I hoped that I would live to see it. And it is important I
think for the sake of healing for so many people, my family, for other
people, for the nation. I think Martin Luther King, Jr., served this
nation. He was a servant. He gave his -- he willingly gave his life if
it was necessary. It is important to know, actually not because we feel
a sense of revenge -- we never have.
We have no feeling of bitterness
or hatred toward anybody. But just the fact that if we
know the truth, we can be free, and we can go on with our lives.
Q. Mrs. King, is the family
seeking a large monetary award from Mr. Jowers as a
result of this action?
A. No, it is not about money.
That's not the issue. I think what we're concerned about is the fact
that certainly there is some liability by Mr. Jowers, but we're
concerned about the truth, having the truth coming out, and in a court
of law so that it can be documented for all. And we were hoping that
this would be one way of getting to the truth.
MR. PEPPER: Mrs. King, thank you
MR. GARRISON: If we could
possibly take a short break before I ask my questions.
THE COURT: Very well. We will
take a fifteen-minute recess.
THE COURT: All right, ladies and
gentlemen. I would like to read to you before we begin here the Court
rules on taking notes. You are permitted to take notes during the trial.
You may take notes only of verbal testimony from witnesses, including
witnesses presented by deposition or videotape. You may not take notes
during the opening statements or closing arguments or take notes of
objections made to the evidence. You may not take notes during
breaks or recesses. Notes may be made only in open court while witnesses
are testifying. Your notes should not contain personal reactions or
comments but, rather, should be limited to a brief factual summary of
testimony you think is important.
Please do not let your
note-taking distract you and cause you to miss what the witness said or
how the witness said it.
Remember that some testimony may
not appear to be important to you at the time. The same testimony,
however, may become important later in the trial. Your notes are not
evidence. You should not view your notes as authoritative records or
consider them as a transcript of
the testimony. Your notes may be incomplete or may have certain errors
and are not an exact account of what was said by a witness.
All right. You may proceed, Mr.
Pepper. Oh, would you like to cross-examine, Mr. Garrison?
BY MR. PEPPER:
Q. Good morning, Mrs. King.
A. Goods morning.
Q. Ms. King, you and I met before
and we've talked a few times. I've talked to your sons several times.
Let me say this to you: I know it isn't easy for you to be the mother of
children, but they are all fine, honorable
sons and daughters, very fine,
honorable people and I know you are pleased with them. I know Dr. King
Let me ask you, Ms. King, you've
never been afforded the opportunity to come into a court of law such as
this and be able to be a witness as a part of it, have you? When Mr. Ray
had a hearing, you were not a party to that hearing, were you?
Q. You never had an opportunity
to come into a court of law before this to have a jury decide the issues
in the case. Am I correct, please, ma'am?
A. That's correct.
Q. Let me ask you, did Dr. King
before his assassination, sometime before he came to Memphis
, did he receive a lot of threats that you are aware of that may be
hearsay? Was he
aware of a lot of threats?
A. Well, the morning that he was
to come back to Memphis that second time, which was the final time, his
plane was delayed because of threats that had come to him. I
understand that -- well, of
course, over the years there had been threats on his life many
Q. Do you recall, Ms. King, when
Dr. King would appear at a place such as Memphishere who would
plan his security? Do you know who was in charge of that or how they
arranged for security for him? Did he have someone in his group that was
responsible for it or did they rely on the local police department? Do
you know how that was done?
A. I really don't know how that
was handled except usually when he went into cities, the people who --
when he went to towns, the people locally, the committee locally that
invited him, would handle the security.
Q. Let me ask you, Ms. King, when
Dr. King returned from Memphis after the march, do you recall -- was
there any particular group or any particular person that insisted he
come back here a second time? Did he ever mention to you anything about
any particular person or any group that insisted on him
A. I don't know about his coming
back specifically, but I know about his coming initially. I think what
he had said publicly before he left was that he was planning to come
back. So I think there was that understanding that he would be coming
back. How it came about I'm not sure.
Q. You mentioned earlier I
believe that he seemed to be agonizing over the fact that he would
return to Memphis. Was that because of the threat or
because of the conditions here?
A. No, not because of the threats
but just because it was so important that he lead a non-violent
demonstration. Of course, there was an injunction. He had to get past
the injunction as well. He took those -- his responsibility very, very
seriously, because he knew that the nation and indeed the world was
watching. In his own conscience he wanted to be clear that he was doing
the right thing.
fact that Mr. Jowers had met and
conferred with Mr. Dexter King, your son, on one occasion, then again
with Mr. Dexter King and Ambassador Young on another occasion. You have
heard about that, I'm sure?
A. Yes, yes.
Q. Are you aware of the fact that
Mr. Jowers stated to them each time he met with them that he was not
aware of any of the acts he did that would lead up to the assassination
of Dr. King, that whatever acts -- there was no mention of that to him,
that he had no idea that whatever acts he may have been called upon he
had no idea would lead to the assassination Dr. King? Are you aware of
A. I'm not aware of the
conversation as much as I wasn't involved with it. So I couldn't speak
to the detail of that.
Q. I see.
MR. GARRISON: I believe that's
all. Thank you, Ms. King.
group at the time of the
assassination of Martin Luther King?
Q. At the time of the sanitation
Q. And when were the Invaders
A. In 1967.
Q. Who formed that group?
A. I formed that group along with
Charles Cabbage and John Smith.
Q. What was the purpose of the
Invaders? What was their organizational purpose?
A. The purpose was to provide an
organizational format for young people, for people in the City of
Memphis. We really formed as a result of the Meredith march in Mississippi, which is
when I first met Dr. King. Many of us who had gone down became active in
organizing and became proponents of the black power movement. We saw
ourselves as agents for liberation of our people throughout the country.
I don't know whether people can
really remember this, but in 1966 and 1967 it was extremely unsafe to
walk the streets in cities like Memphisand southern
cities across the country, cities all over. So we saw ourselves as an
organizing tool to make people aware of the fact that we were a free
people with all the rights and privileges of Americans, to operate and
seek prosperity, equality and all the other things that were rightfully
ours by law.
Q. So the Invaders were a local
A. That's right.
Q. How were the Invaders funded?
How were they financed?
A. Out of our own pocket. We
received no real funding. We received one grant for the black organizing
project, which is a grant I wrote in 1967. We received some jobs from
the War on Poverty Commission. Cab and I were hired as
thirty-dollar-a-week organizers in 1967, a job from which we were fired
because we had
A. The Student Non-violent
Q. What was the Student
Non-violent Coordinating Committee?
A. It was a national organization
which spent -- which really developed out of the civil rights movement
which at its inception provided the foot soldiers for the civil rights
movement, the young men and women who went out and desegregated lunch
counters, students from all over the country, many from Memphis,
incidentally, who became the cannon fodder for the movement, as a matter
of fact. We would go out and do the organizing work, go into the rural
areas, go into the cities, the colleges, the prisons, everywhere there
was a need really to let people know the kinds of things that Dr. King
and others had talked about were realities
Q. Did you see yourself in a
sense as foot soldiers, community-based foot soldiers, in that movement?
A. Well, you know, now that I'm a
gray-haired old man, I don't want to be vain enough to say that. We
really thought that we were a chosen few on a mission. We really saw
ourselves as helping fulfill the American dream.
We were idealists for the most
part. We were people born of desire to change the concept in America
from its desegregated biased roots and its hatred for African-Americans
to people who understood that we should enjoy the right to vote, the
right to speak freely, the right to come and go as we please, to live
where we wanted to, to seek an education, all those little things that
people now seem to say we take for granted.
Q. With this background and this
history and this organizational activity, was there a time when you
associated -- became associated
A. When the sanitation workers
started their -- we did the basic street organizing, you might say, for
the events that led up to the sanitation workers' strike. We went out
and got the -- we told grown men that they had a right to petition
government, to question police, to do all kinds of things. Then when the
organization, the AFSCME, which is the American Federation of State,
County, Municipal Employees, started to organize its membership, many of
its leaders came to us and they accepted our efforts to go out in the
communities and gain support for the kind of people who needed this
help. When you say this to somebody, it
probably sounds -- I don't know how to really describe it because this
was a very dangerous
thing to do. You didn't have a right to go and talk to the city
government about organizing its employees. That was against
the law. You did not have a right
to question a policeman if they stopped you and talked to you or if they
asked you a question. And people were afraid. We didn't have many
lawyers, judges, anything else, who would actually stand up to the kind
of abuse that we were subjected to here in Memphis.
So when the sanitation workers
got together and decided they would organize, they offered a list of
things that they wanted, to be recognized as a union, to receive the
same pay as white employees, other kinds of things, that seem so mundane
to us now. That platform that they used, we had been using it for a few
years since a man who is now a judge ran for public works commissioner.
So we were involved in this
process actively trying to get it together. And that year when we became
-- when the union kind of put itself together, the real hell broke loose
in Memphis. The mayor decided that it would never be recognized. A group of
ministers got together and
decided that they would work in support of the union. We worked hard to
get them to come in. And because we were having such great difficulty
with the white community resisting this whole effort, with many people
in the black community being threatened and who were afraid, the
leadership of the strike itself decided to invite Dr. King here.
Dr. King was not only the
greatest leader that we've ever had, he was a person who by his bearing
and presence brought a kind of calm to the entire community, to those
who were opposed to us. We understood because of our youth and our
exuberance that sometimes we were not perceived as being ready to lead.
There were people who were afraid of us because we would stop and ask
Well -- or because we would even
resist the kinds of pushing around that we received. Several days after
the start of the strike itself, the sanitation workers had a march down
Main Street , and the police took their
Q. Do you know -- excuse me for
interrupting. Do you know the date of that particular march?
A. No, I don't remember the exact
date. But it was --
Q. Was it in February of 1967 or
March of 1967?
A. It would have been in
Q. Early on in the strike?
A. Yes. Very early in the strike.
A number of sanitation workers were injured. Before that happened, two
men were killed, were crushed, in a garbage truck, one that
automatically closed down and collected the garbage. That set off a
fierce to resistance, a fierce resistance. When they had to march down Main Street and the
police attacked them, dogs,
clubs, guns, beat the hell out of a lot of them, we really decided to
ask for a more militant stance from the union itself.
This probably sounds pretty
mundane, but prior to that time the religious leaders
did not want to approach this as
if it were a regular strike. Many of us had grown up in the -- with
roots to the labor movement, just as we had to the civil rights
movement. We believed, for example, that ASCFME should operate its
strike just like the AFL-CIO or the Teamsters or anybody else and that
we should stop the flow of trucks that were being driven by strike
breakers, that we should end this garbage collection that was designed
to break the strike. Well, we found ourselves in a greatly divided
Many of the ministers and some of
the black leaders in town were much more interested in compromising and
going along with the edicts of the city administration. We did not want
to see that occur. We wanted a full and legitimate recognition of the
union. We wanted to make
sure that the rights of these employees were protected. Most of these
men were from rural
West Tennessee, had been driven off the farm, had come in from places
where they had been driven off
the land in what we call the
Q. The founder of TentCitywill be testifying in these proceedings. So we can move from that.
But let me move you onto the association with Dr. King. What was the
relationship that emerged between the Invaders and SCLC, Dr. King's
organization here in Memphis, related to the sanitation workers' strike?
A. Originally when Dr. King's
people got here there was a kind of an uneasiness between the two
organizations. In fact, there were -- there was a brief struggle,
skirmish, that kind of occurred, some bad feelings, some other things.
It took Dr. King's arrival here to ease those problems out, to kind of
smooth that over.
We insisted on following the same
principles that we had learned from Dr. King during the
Meredith march in Mississippiand other places.
Q. Did the Invaders with its
relationship with SCLC play a role in the
first march that Dr. King led
here on the 28th of March, 1967, on behalf of the sanitation workers'
A. We did not play an active role
in that march because the night before, Reverend Jim Lawson and reverend
H. Ralph Jackson came to the steering committee and presented a letter
with bullets in it and said that they had been sent by the Invaders and
that we had
threatened them. Consequently I ordered the members of our organization
off the streets, not to participate.
Q. So the clergy-led steering
committee received from somewhere --
A. From somewhere.
Q. -- a letter with some bullets
Q. And that was represented as
having been sent by the Invaders?
A. That's right.
Q. It was taken as a threat by
the more traditional civil rights groups here?
A. Yes. They were very annoyed
with us. They didn't like our style. They didn't
Q. Now, let me ask you, did the
Invaders disrupt that march?
Q. How was that march disrupted?
Who disrupted that march, to the best of your knowledge?
A. We received --
Q. Strike that. Let me rephrase
that. Did you conduct as an organization an investigation?
A. Yes. I personally conducted an
investigation. I ordered a complete investigation to see if any of our
people were involved. As I said, I put an order out that our people
would not attend the march because we had already, once that letter had
been sent with the bullets in it, we knew that we would receive the
blame. Our people started to report the influx of other individuals who
were coming in with Illinois license plates who were seen about town,
who were seen on Beale Street by our affiliates on Beale Street, and who
were members of several organizations, some the
Black Egyptians out of East St.
Louis, some reported to have been Blackstone Rangers out
Q. So these were strangers that
came to Memphisjust prior to this march. Is that what
you are saying?
A. That's right.
Q. Why would they have come to Memphis?
A. We have no idea, because
usually when organizations came to town, they would contact us. The
Black Egyptians did. Chuck Cohen and some other people did in fact
contact our people in an appropriate fashion. The ones we were concerned
about were unidentified.
This is very unusual, because the
nature of the movement was such that people relied on each other for
housing, for accommodations, for transportation, for information, for
all kinds of things. The nature of the movement was a very communal kind
of thing. Everybody helped everybody if we could.
disruption of that march and what
do you know about -- from personal knowledge do you know
about how that march was disrupted?
A. That march was disrupted, in
my opinion, by police and by agents from parts unknown who came here
specifically to embarrass Dr. King and to disrupt the march. The FBI
reports, classified reports that have since been released, indicate to
me that through the informants that they -- they always black out the
name of the informants -- always indicate that there were plans to
disrupt our activities, to single out the individuals in my organization
several other organizations as the kind of fall guys.
We were supposed to be the ones
who would be blamed. Some indication was that the march was supposed to
be stopped at Main Street and turned south on Main instead of being
allowed to turn north where we were supposed to have had a warehouse
with weapons in it and we were going to start a race war.
Q. As a result of the violent
disruption of the march, Dr. King decided to come back to
Q. And the Invaders established
yet a closer working relationship with him?
Q. This time?
Q. Were you going to work closely
in the preparation of the next march?
A. Yes, yes. There were some
essential problems with that first march. There were no marshals. There
were no people on the march route who would establish what the
perimeters of the march would be. In a disciplined march, you always
have to have someone organize the flanks to keep the people separated
from the pedestrians, so to speak, who would stand there, even though we
encouraged people to join the march, the idea is you have to have very
who will not break windows, who
will not run, who will not panic, who will not be afraid, in case we met
force. The marshals were instructed to protect people, to show them how
not to panic and cause themselves to be hurt. That didn't exist in the
first march. In the second march, Dr. King made an agreement for the
Invaders to participate in the march, to be marshals for the march, to
protect individuals and to make certain that we were not blamed for
things that ultimately happened in the first march.
Q. Just reverting quickly to the
break-up of the first march, do you know which hotel Dr. King was taken
to when that march turned violent?
A. Yes. He was taken to the
Rivermont. It was a Holiday Inn flagship, which is now an apartment
building. But when our people went up there, he had no guards on his
room, they went straight to the room and were able to see Dr. King
without anybody protecting him. We thought that was horrendous. We
thought that that was -- we
really were very afraid for Dr. King at that time.
Q. In the planning in which you
were engaged in the second march, the march that Dr. King never made,
the march which in fact became a memorial march for his death, did you
take up rooms under the -- with the financial support of his
A. Yes. Yes.
Q. Did you take up those rooms at
the Lorraine Motel?
Q. The very place where Dr. King
A. Yes. As a part of the
Q. Do you recall how many rooms
the Invaders had there?
A. They had two rooms.
Q. And how many Invaders were in
those rooms at that time?
A. The total numbers probably ran
to about twenty, from ten to twenty Invaders. Some would leave and come
back. Other people would come. But around ten to twenty.
situation. Some Invaders were
still there, but once put out of the room, the main body of our group
had to do what they were asked to do. At the time that I received the
report from the people in the field, they were also concerned about a
number of other things.
There was no police presence. It
was a very confused situation. We did not know who was in charge. Some
of -- I could not get a clear answer about who gave the order to put the
Invaders out of the hotel.
Q. We may come to that with other
witnesses. But were you surprised that you were asked to leave the
A. Yes. Yes.
Q. This was not in accordance
with your arrangements with Dr. King?
A. No, it was not. Dr. King had
agreed to involve the Invaders. He had chastised his people for making
it difficult for the Invaders to operate along with them. We had a very
James Lawson and Dr. King are the
reasons that I have spent almost thirty-five years of my life in the
MR. PEPPER: No further questions.
THE COURT: Do you expect your
cross-examination to be lengthy?
MR. GARRISON: I don't think it
will be terribly long. I'll go on if you want me to.
THE COURT: I'll take about five
seconds. Then you can continue with your examination.
THE COURT: Mr. Garrison.
BY MR. GARRISON:
Q. Dr. Smith, if I may ask you a
few questions, I would appreciate it. Let me ask you, during the time
that you were working with Dr. King's group, were you made aware of any
threats against Dr. King by any source?
time when there was a march and
there was a riot and he had gone back to Atlanta, are you
aware of the fact that he planned to come back or said I'll be back? How
was that left?
A. I was aware that Dr. King was
going to be back. We were extremely interested in making sure that the
march worked, that the sanitation workers' strike was successful.
Q. Among the group that you were
with, Dr. Smith, the Invaders, was there a gentleman whose name was
Q. What part did he play in this?
A. Merrell McCullough was our
director of transportation. He had the only car and the only gas. So we
made him the minister of transportation. That should have made us leery
right there. We're talking about some poor youngsters in a very poor
town. I guess you can say that Memphisis still a poor town.
We didn't have anything. We
didn't have any money. We got around the best we
could, which was usually to bum a
ride. In fact, the police would sometimes have to give us a ride. The
ones that were watching us would sometimes give us a ride. McCullough
was a very accessible person. He would come to my home every day, as he
would go around all the Invaders. When I met him, he was introduced to
me by what we call the Riverside Invaders, who brought him into the organization.
Q. Did you later learn that he at
that time was working undercover for the Memphis Police Department?
A. Yes. I was invited down to the
police department after Dr. King was assassinated, and I was introduced
to him by inspector types of the Memphis Police Department as Officer
Q. And would it surprise you to
learn that he was brought into Mr. Jowers' restaurant by another officer
and introduced as Officer Merrell McCullough?
A. I did not know about that
until much later on, but I was extremely surprised. I
think one of the reasons I was
surprised is because we felt that there were people who would infiltrate
our group, but we did not have any idea that the infiltration was of a
nature broader than the local police department.
We knew that many members of the
-- many men who are now members of the police department, in fact, the
former police director who has just recently resigned, was also an
undercover agent in our organization.
Q. Dr. Smith, the day that the
assassination occurred, you were along with some other members of your
group in a room or two rooms at the Lorraine Motel. Am I correct, sir?
A. The members of my organization
Q. What floor were you on?
A. On the second floor.
Q. All right. Was there a time
that day that you had occasion to look across the street to see what was
down on the street
below the motel and across over
there on the other side? Did you have any occasion to do that that day
that you recall?
A. I did not. On that day I had
to leave to maintain what we call our information center. What I had to
do was to receive the information from around the city from our various
locations where we thought the strategic information that told us what
was happening with the strike itself, with the plans for events and
activities, in preparation for the strategy team's meeting and that sort
Q. All the time that you were at
the hotel and the going and coming, do you ever remember seeing anyone
in that brush area there across from the hotel? Do you ever recall any
activity, seeing anyone in that area?
A. No, I did not see anyone in
MR. GARRISON: Dr. Smith, I had
hair once like you. Thank you.
What I want to do is I want to
move on with you. Would you tell us what your position was in the
Invaders around the time of 1968?
A. Around 1968 -- first of all,
let me try to clear something up here as far as the name "Invaders"
goes. My title was execute secretary of the Black Organizing Project,
which was a project that we had put together and made up one of the
groups we organized. The press actually just gave us the name "Invaders"
and it kind of stuck. You know, it kind of stuck. A lot of people can
kind of relate to that.
Generally we were referred to as
the Invaders about, but actually my title was executive secretary, Black
Q. What was your role in the
Black Organizing Project and that group in particular?
A. Well, basically training
street organizers, going on to campuses, trying to set up various and
educating, trying to empower
black people basically, trying to make an impression on the structure,
the power structure, as it was at the time, generally raising the
consciousness of black people at that time period. We were basically
facing difficult times.
Q. Now, when the march Dr. King
led on the 28th of March broke up into a riot, did you and any of the
members of the organization meet with Dr. King shortly after that?
A. We did. We met afterward. We
had made an effort to meet with him before then, before the march. There
were many indications that there was going to be a serious problem, but
we were unable to reach him at the time. After the riot occurred, we
made an effort to meet with him then. We knew he was staying at the
Rivermont. That was public knowledge at the time. So a group of us we
because when we decided to go,
that's the first thing we thought about, how were we going to get past
the security, because we knew that there would be some. So one of the
fellows that was with us at the time, he said, well, we'll try and see
if we can't get through the back door. We walked through the back door.
Lo and behold, the back door came straight open, I
mean, no problem at all. We walked right into the door, upstairs to his
room, knocked on the door, never saw a soul, no one.
Q. You went directly up to his
Q. You knocked on the door?
Q. Was there any security inside
A. No security.
Q. Who answered the door?
A. I think Reverend Abernathy
answered the door. No, wait a minute. Let me get this straight. Was it
Bernard Shaw that was with him at the time. You have to help me
here. I think Bernard answered
the door because I think Dr. King was in the bathroom putting on his
tie. I think Reverend Abernathy was standing in the background. I
introduced myself, told Mr. Shaw my name is Charles Cabbage, I'd like to
talk to Dr. King, I represent the Invader organization. Reverend
Abernathy immediately said, stop, no, the doctor does not want to talk
to you all now. At this particular time I heard Dr. King call out from
the bathroom, he said, no, let him in because I want to talk to him. So
we went in the room and sat down and we had a nice long talk.
Q. Basically what was the nature
of that conversation?
A. We had brought along some
literature, discussing, you know -- explaining our position on certain
issues, describing our organization, its structure, some of our goals
We were really trying to
demonstrate to him that the rumors that had been spread
about us were untrue and
unfounded, that we were really not out to create any kind of disruptive
behavior in the City of Memphis, that we were really about basically,
like I said, consciousness-raising, introducing the concept of the
empowerment of black people at the time generally referred to as black
power. That was almost a criminal offense at that particular time. We
felt there was some work that needed to be done. In the process of
presenting our literature to him, we also presented parts of a program
that we had put together that we wanted to try to establish into the
community called the Community
Unification Program. We were seeking funding at that particulars time.
But the conversation never really
got into the literature itself. They looked it over and went immediately
to the march and what happened.
Q. How did Dr. King react to this
conversation that you had with him?
positive all the way. His first
reaction was, and it kind of shocked me in a way, because I was
expecting him to be hostile and I was expecting him to be a bit
defensive, you know, because the information that he had received was
that we were opposed to everything he stood for, and the first question
he asked me was, you know, Brother Cabbage, why did you all do this to
me? I explained to him, I said, Doc, we did not do this to you.
Our intention from the very
beginning has been, first of all, we did not want you to come here
because we had been organizing around -- we had been organizing around
not a non-violent theme at that particular time. For him to walk into Memphistrying to lead a
non-violent demonstration on the occasion we're talking about was just
walking into the jaws of a tiger. It was in our best interest as well as
his for him not to be here. We wanted him
that, because we really just
didn't have the voice that we wanted in the meetings and
strategy sessions that were being held at the time that was controlling
strike and those events.
Q. There came a time as a result
of this meeting and other discussions that your organization came to
agree to work with Dr. King in terms of the following march, the next
march that was planned?
A. All this was discussed -- all
this came about that day in that meeting, because, know, after I had
told -- I don't want to make it sound like I'm giving Dr. King advice,
but I tried to inform him as best as I could of what the situation was,
the volatility of the situation and some of the things that he could do
to be able to come into Memphis and be able to have a non-violent
demonstration. I let him know that we had been organizing around
counter-themes for at least a year, that a lot of people were aware of
it, and in order for him to be able to pull a
successful non-violent march off
here in Memphis, that he needs to pull up all the way, go back to
Atlanta, reorganize, send in some workers to begin to teach non-violent
doctrines and discipline, because in order to be able to do and
accomplish what they were setting out -- what they were attempting to do
would take some serious training.
Q. When you met with him and were
agreeing to work together, you took up residence in the Lorraine Motel
as a means of a place for working with him for manning the second march.
Is that right?
A. His suggestion was one of the
things we need to do then was probably try to work together. He said,
what I will do is we will go back and I'll send some people in and we're
going to put you and maybe some of your people on the staff. We agreed
immediately, you know. From that point on we decided when they came
back, they were contacted. When they came back, I don't remember the
exact time line on this, but we took up in the
Lorraine Motel, we took the two
rooms on the top floor, the right-hand side of the building.
Q. Do you know how many people
were in those two rooms?
A. We just had the two rooms. At
that time we were young. They just stayed full all the time.
Q. Those rooms were on the
balcony level, the upper level?
A. Balcony level, yes.
Q. The same level on which he was
Q. Did there come a time when you
were asked to leave those rooms?
Q. When was that?
A. This was after the third
meeting that we had had. Let me try and explain this. After the
organizers for SCLC had come to Memphis
, had come back to Memphisafter Dr. King had left, Reverend Orange, Carl Reader (Phonetic) and
some of the others at that
time, we began to go out into the
community and have workshops. So we began to get to be quite friendly.
We got along well. So when Dr. King came back, we began to meet
in the dining room. We had two meetings downstairs in the dining room.
We had one in his room. And in the meeting we were discussing how we
would be able to pull the march off.
And one of the things that we had
decided that would be necessary would be that the Invaders would be
involved in actually marshalling the demonstration. I had problems with
that initially because I didn't think I could sell that to the group. So
when I took this back to our board up on the second floor where we were
staying, we had heated arguments about it, but eventually got this over
to the entire group and we agreed to marshal the parade. This is after
the second meeting we probably -- finally came to a decision and we were
on board to act as marshals.
Q. After the third meeting
somehow you were told to leave the hotel?
A. Now, John had to remind me of
this. After the second meeting after we had come to the conclusion that
we were all going to work together on this, that we had as much at stake
in it as they did, so, therefore, it would be the right thing for us to
do, we had sort of an impromptu meeting in Dr. King's room where we had
some final points to work out. That meeting lasted maybe about five to
ten minutes. We go back to the hotel, to our rooms, and we discussed it
a little bit, and we sat around, and here comes a knock on the door.
A. It took us about twenty
minutes to clear the room.
Q. So it took you twenty minutes
to clear the room?
Q. What is the significance of
that? What time does that make it?
A. We weren't really keeping no
watch or time on this. We weren't really watching the
clock per se. But from some of the things that I read from some of the
investigations that had been carried out since then, I think we left out
about ten until six or eleven until six or something like this.
Q. You were told to leave?
Q. Sometime within a half hour,
thirty-five minutes, of the killing you left?
Q. You left at ten minutes to
six, which is about eleven minutes before the killing?
A. I always felt that as we were
pulling out -- it took us a little while to get organized to get out of
the room. There were quite a few of us there. We got out as quickly as
we could. We weren't ready to go. We were there all day for meetings and
There was only one car there,
that was mine. We threw things in the car, got in the car. As soon as we
got in the car and drove up Mulberry, this is when I heard the shot.
Q. Very shortly after you --
A. Before I could make it to
Main Street .
Q. Why were you asked to leave
the motel within minutes of the killing?
A. There is a lot of conjecture
on that. I do not know. I mean, it is illogical. It doesn't make any
sense. Check-out time is the next day.
A. Yes. I mean, SCLC was taking
care of the entire bill.
Q. So they had paid for it
through the evening?
A. I don't know what their
records indicate, but I would assume if they had already rented the
room, you know, then -- they don't rent them by the half day. It was
just a totally illogical move. It didn't make any sense.
Q. Who gave the orders for you to
leave the motel?
A. Izzy answered the door. I
wouldn't have been the one to answer the door. Izzy answer the door.
Izzy, from my best recollection, says that one of the maids had come by
to clean the room and asked us to leave, they said that you all would
have to leave. Next came Reverend Orange and came in and explained to us
that, hey, man, you all will have to leave. Nobody asked why because --
you know, we had feelings that there was something very, very wrong
A. I never questioned that. I
assumed by him handling the money it was a clear-cut decision for him
saying -- the way it came down, we were not paying for the room, Jessie
was not authorizing payment for the room anymore, so you all have to
Q. They already had paid for the
A. This I realize now, but at
that particular time we never knew how serious these minutes and seconds
were, you know, to a significant historical event. I mean, in hindsight
we can see these things, but as they occurred, you know, who would take
time to remember anything like that and write it down or jot it down.
Q. So, Charles, I put it to you
your testimony this afternoon is that you were asked to leave late in
the day close to the time of the killing, you did leave --
Q. -- and then you heard the shot
within a short time after you left?
A. As soon as I pulled off the
lot and made a right turn, got beside the fire station, the shot rang
out. We all ducked down in the car. Normally we would make a right turn
to go down to Beale Street and turn left to get on the
interstate. This time when we heard the shot we immediately began --
See, we had a different route from leaving the hotel. At night we would
take a different route because of the police surveillance around the
hotel at night. So we took a left turn, took Calhoun, went toward the
river, took a back street to Florida street, got to Crump, went back
over to Castle, I think it was, and went over the railroad tracks and
back alleys and made it all the way to south Memphis.
Q. Did you notice any security,
any police presence or security, in the motel late that afternoon before
you left and after you left?
A. There was none. There was
never any security, never.
MR. PEPPER: No further questions,
Cabbage, I have two or three questions I would to ask you if you don't
mind. Before this date of April the 4th when you were asked to leave the
room, did you ever learn of any threats against Dr. King? Was it common
that you heard any threats against him?
Q. Was it a pretty much common
A. No, this was a direct knock on
my front door to my house, which made it even more expedient for us to
try and get to him and let him know. There was a gentleman that knocked
on my mother's front door. We were
sitting in the house. He came
inside and introduced himself. He was from
South Africa. He came in and sat down,
sirens wailing, fires going off all over the city, curfew on. This man
came into our house, sat down and talked to me and told me, said,
Charles, I'm going to tell you something, they are going to kill Dr.
King in Memphis. I done about passed out.
Q. Is that the day before the
A. I can't recall that date. I
Q. Was it the general feeling of
the Invaders that it was unsafe for Dr. King to come here to
Q. You didn't want him to come
A. No, we did not.
Q. Is that because it was not
safe to come?
A. It was unsafe, and we knew
that because of the position that we had taken
politically that if anything went
wrong, that we would be the one to blame for it.
Q. They would blame it on your
Q. Did you recall a gentleman in
your group named Merrell McCullough?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. What part did he play with
A. Merrell first came into the
organization because of the activities that we were conducting out at MemphisState. We were organizing the Black Students Association out there.
Merrell I think was attending classes out there. I think John B. Reddin
He was interested and wanted to learn more about the condition of black
people in this condition, so John brought him to the apartment where we
were generally holding these meetings, which were generally open to
anybody who wanted to attend, they could come. And Merrell came.
the room before the
assassination, Mr. Cabbage, was Merrell McCullough there, was he one of
A. No, he was not there. He was
with Reverend Orange.
Q. Do you know where Merrell
McCullough was when you left the room that day?
A. He and Reverend Orange gone
out shopping or something like this. We knew that he was the police, but
what can you do about this. You know you are going to be infiltrated. We
made him minister of transportation. He had a car. We gave him something
Then when we made the alliance
with SCLC and began to work with SCLC, he came along with the group. So
now he is moving driving people around, some of the SCLC staff people
around. It is just of the one of the quirks the way things happened. He
ended up driving the SCLC staff around. We did not know he was as highly
connected as he was.
Q. Let me ask you this: You said
you were ordered to leave sometime late that
Q. Did you see Reverend Jackson
at the motel before you left?
A. Yes, he was at the meeting.
Q. Late that afternoon?
A. We met during the day. If you
want to go into the event, we can talk about the meeting, but he was
there at the hotel that day. As a matter of fact, he was the last person
we saw as we left the meeting. He was standing down by the pool.
Q. He was down on the parking
level, lower level?
Q. And did you see Dr. King
talking to reverend Jessie Jackson?
A. Not at that time, no.
Q. Mr. Cabbage, let me ask you
this: You were in the room facing the street over across from the
rooming house across there, weren't you?
Q. Did you ever look over there
and see in the brushy area where it was raised up off the street with a
concrete barrier, I think it is, and a lot of trees, did you ever see
anyone in there moving around in the bushes that you could tell?
A. No. I never really paid any
attention to it. We were constantly moving around, our people, because
we provided our own security, and no reports ever came to me that we
ever saw anything or anybody at that particular time.
Q. When you heard the shot the
day that it occurred, did you go back to the scene or did you go ahead
A. We immediately went to
Riverside Community. We got stopped once by a police
officer, a young guy. I don't know who he was. He was nervous. He talked
to us and he let us go. That took about five minutes. We went directly
to my mother's house. She come running. As I pulled up in front of the
house, she is rushing down to the house crying, screaming to the top of
voice, they just shot Dr. King,
they just shot Dr. King. I immediately began to think, oh, my God, how
far is this going to go, because we were aware that the assassination
plot was on because of the fellow that had come to my house. So what I
did was I got out of the car and turned the car over to some of the
other people in our organization, sent it back down to the hotel to see
in the event anybody else would be targeted, if we could be of any
assistance security-wise. We weren't trained professionals or anything
like that. Anybody in a situation like that would try to help.
MR. GARRISON: That's all I have.
Thank you, sir.
BY MR. PEPPER:
Q. Mr. Cabbage, do you know who
the man was who came into your home and told you that Dr. King was going
to be assassinated?
A. I didn't ask for a spelling,
but there was another John Laue present at the hotel who spelled his
name L O U E, I think, but, you know, this man was an entirely different
-- a totally different description.
Q. Was there man black or white?
A. He was Middle Eastern, long
brown hair. I'd remember him again if I saw him. I never saw him again.
Q. Did you know him previously?
A. No. Never seen him before in
Q. Never seen him before in your
Q. Could his name have been
spelled L A U E?
A. Something like that. I may
have the spelling wrong. I didn't ask him how to
spell his name is what I'm trying to say. I do remember him saying that
his name was John
were working in. We had numerous
confrontations with the police. There were armed bands of white citizens
who rode around in the community with high-powered rifles in their car.
Some of us had been shot at before. It was basically for self-defense.
Q. When you saw Reverend Jackson
standing down at the swimming pool, was he doing anything?
A. Well, he said -- he had his
arms folded and checking the time seeing how long it would take us to
get out of the hotel.
Q. He was looking at his watch?
A. He was checking it.
Q. Lastly, did you have the
occasion as a result of your suspicion of a white person who wanted to
associate with the Invaders to go through some personal documents of
A. That was an incident that
occurred. This was a year prior to. A gentleman with military
intelligence -- we used to hang out at a place called the Log Cabin.
This is where we used to meet on South Parkway . This
guy come stumbling in drunk,
strange in the first place, because he had to be nuts being
there in south Memphisat this particular time anyway. He
comes into our meeting room. He
was immediately stopped, frisked and robbed. In the process of being
robbed, somebody took
his wallet. In going through the wallet, we found a military
intelligence ID and three
Q. And three dollars?
A. Three dollars.
Q. You found an identification
card with military intelligence officer?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. This was about a year before
Q. This would be then in 1967?
A. 1967, yes. Yes, sir.
MR. PEPPER: No further
THE COURT: All right. You may
stand down, sir. Thank you.
A. First of all, I'd like to say
my granddaddy was brought here five years before the Civil War in
chains. He was a slave. And lesser than a mile and a half from the
store, the record will show in 1867 he gave seven dollars and a half for
four hundred acres of land. We have some of that in the family yet.
Q. John, did there come a time in
1959 or 1960 that you became involved in civil
rights activity, voter registration activity, in Fayette County and the
area of Somerville?
A. Well, I'd like to please the
Court to go back a little bit further than that how I got deeply
involved. I met Gerald Estes in Camp Ellis , Illinois, and later I met him again in 1957. In 1957 he was a young
practicing attorney. He came to Somerville
to defend BurtonDotson.
Q. John, what opposition did you
meet when you started, though, moving -- I'm moving forward -- when you
started the voter registration project in FayetteCounty?
A. According to the way I got the
records together, before 1960 there was no negroes registered to vote in
that county. In 1957 me and Mr. Estes and the others got together. He
was the legal counsel. We ormed a league called the Fayette County Civic
& Welfare League to set out to get negroes registered to vote.
At that time the negroes didn't
have no chance, and the law, they would pick them up, sentence them, and
put them out on the road, and a negro didn't have no chance. The only
way we could figure out to change that landscape was through the ballot
Q. What did you do?
A. We formed this group. It was
the first -- around about April or May in 1959 to get the negroes
registered to vote. We got a small majority of negroes registered, and
we had a local sheriff election. The local man that we was supporting
was named L. T. Redbanks. He run for sheriff against the local sheriff.
The Democrat party refused to let us vote.
That's how it got started. That's
how it got started. When they refused to let us vote, on August the
12th, 1959, Gerald Estes filed a suit against the Democratic party
asking for us to have the right to cast our ballot.
Q. What happened as a result of
A. Well, that was in 1959. In
1960, the early part of 1960, we was still pushing to get negroes
registered to vote, and the local editor of the Fayette Falcon was named
Coaster. The wavy understand it, the Commercial Appeal man name here was
named Coaster. They was folks.
When we got it going, he put an
ad in the Fayette Falcon and the Commercial Appeal that they was going
to make a thousand negroes move off the land in 1960, that winter.
During that time in 1960, if you
registered, you had to move. The leaders of the movement, the citizen
council and the Klu Klux Klan, they had a list that later
that we got ahold to it through
by borrowing it from the Klu Klux Klan's secretary. Ebony magazine
published the list. We got ahold of it, forwarded it -- we got a
photostatic copy of it, and the made carried it back and put it in the
safe and they never knew how we got the list.
The list in this Ebony magazine
had all -- had A's behind it, that you couldn't buy nothing nowhere. I
was the leader of the group, and they run me out of every wholesale
house in Memphis.
Q. Now, this was an embargo list,
this was a list of people who no wholesale house should sell any
products of any sort. Is that what you are saying?
A. Wouldn't sell them for money
at no price.
Q. Moving on now, John, what kind
of business were you in, what kind of business did you take over?
A. Well, my brother, he had the
store. And he had an education and always followed saw mills and such.
He said, I'm going to
move, I'm just going to leave. He
thought he was the one that was behind the movement all the time, and I
was the one who was spearheading the movement with the people. He moved
to Memphisand left them out
there. When he moved to Memphis, then Gulf Oil Company, they jumped in
the squeeze. In 1960 no oil company would sell no black farmers no
gasoline, no oil and no seed in 1960. It was a liberal at Eades named
Ben Roafer. He told all the farmers to come down there to him and he'd
sell them what they want. He had more business than he could look at.
During that time I made friends
with the underworld. What I mean by the underworld, they run me out of
every wholesale house in
Malone & Hyde. The bread companies wouldn't sell nothing to me. There
was a young bread man who said, tell you what you do, you meet me out
there on Summer Avenue and I'll sell you off the bread off the truck.
I would come to
Memphis and meet him on Summer Avenue in
Memphisin a 1955 Ford car. That's what I had. I would come to Memphisand meet him on
Summer Avenue and get bread. They Klan would get after me every night or
two. I had -- which I'm a top mechanic myself on the old models. To make
a car run fast and turn curves faster, if you noticed, a 1955 Ford has
got a solid frame in the front. We took the torch and cut two inches out
of the frame in the front. That brought the front wheels in and let the
back wheels be wider, and we had chains on -- see, a 1955 Ford has got
straight springs behind it. That let the car wheels up when it would go
around a sharp curve, it would slide around. At that time, which I could
nail in the highway now, at that time my vision was better and I could
drive just like I was standing still, and when they'd get after me, I'd
cut over in them back roads, and them new cars couldn't turn good like
me. At that time wasn't no two-way radios in
Q. John, let me stop you there.
Would you just tell the Court and the jury what
A. Tent City, we went to
Washington, and me and my attorney, Carrie Porter Boyd and one other
guy. At that time this was under the Eisenhower Administration, and they
filed an injunction against the landowners from stop making the tenant
farmers move. And this was under the Eisenhower Administration.
That was in 1961. President
Kennedy got elected in 1961 in November, and he took office in 1962.
Q. Well, John, let's back up a
minute. It is a historical fact that John Kennedy was elected in 1960,
took office January 20th of 1961. So it is a year back.
A. A year back. I'm just --
Q. That's okay. Continue.
A. And during that time that I
was leading my folks and all this was -- we'd
have meetings to discuss it, and
I decided the only way to be successful in political ranks would be
independent from the citizen's council and the Klu Klux Klan. What I
mean by being independent, stay out of the Klan's pocketbook. When you
borrow money from the Klan, he squeeze up on you in a minute.
Q. John, what kind of business do
you run today?
A. I run a grocery store and oil
Q. How long have you run that
A. I've been running that
business since 960.
Q. That's when you took it over
from your brother?
A. That's when I took it over
from my brother. But now let me run back back just a second. Shaw, a
fellow named Shaw, bought it from my brother first. He stayed in it
about a month and a half. Because of me going into the business after
then -- there was an eighty-three year old man named John Lewis.
He said, John, he says, they will
starve us to death, we need somebody in that business who knows how to
do and feed us. At that time a test was going. If you get Jet magazine,
you can see some of the people were so poor, they were starving. Of
course, you take most of the people at that time, they had never been
nowhere or no-how to maneuver out of oppression.
The Jet magazine published some
pictures how poor the folks were at that time.
Q. Let's move on. You have run
this business all these years?
A. That's correct.
Q. How many days a week is your
A. The onliest time -- at that
time the business was -- we were running seven days a week. I had a
family. But after I lost -- the Klan tore my family up. I only shuts it
up when I go to pick up merchandise.
Q. So you would -- why would you
go there around five-fifteen every Thursday? A. Well, you've got to
understand how I made the runs. I first started with Malone & Hyde on
south -- Malone & Hyde was on South Parkway .
A. I'd make that run, the dry
grocery run. Then I would come on up and I'd have it to put my meat on
ice and produce on ice. I'd make them's two places my last pick-ups.
Q. So Liberto's warehouse was
your last pickup?
A. Was the last pickup.
Q. You would get there around
A. I got there that day at
Q. We're coming to that day.
April 4th was a Thursday, the day Martin Luther King was assassinated
was a Thursday.
Q. Would you describe what the
layout of the place was and what you did when you arrived at that
A. That warehouse faced east and
west, but you enter in the gate on the south side,
and when I drove around to the north side and come up about fifteen feet
of the door, I
stopped my truck. At that time I had a three-quarter ton pickup truck
with a canvass
on it, a cloth canvass over it.
A. When I drove up to the -- when
I stopped the pickup truck out in front of the door, this door is on the
north side, and there is a big door that could you rollback and back a
truck up in.
Coming in from the north side on
the right side there is a little small office, and when I got within ten
to fifteen feet of this office, why, Latch was standing up.
A. Mr. Latch had a scar around
his neck like this.
Q. What was his relationship to
A. He was a handyman. I never did
know, because I was always scared of Mr. Latch.
You see, if you looked at him, he had a scar from right here to right
there, and he would
always be mean, but Mr. Liberto was always friendly. I wouldn't fool
with Mr. Latch. I would stay away from him if I could.
Q. So you walked in that
afternoon, into the entrance and the office. You said you were how far
from the office?
A. Ten to fifteen feet.
Q. Ten to fifteen feet from the
A. That's correct.
Q. Then what happened next?
A. The phone rang. When the phone
rang, Latch picked it up. When Latch picked it up, Latch said, that's
him again. He give it to Mr. Liberto. Mr. Liberto said, shoot the --
balcony. Well, at that time they
didn't have noticed me. I was just standing up a little
closer to them just looking. I was a cash-paying customer. He would
always tell me, you go get what you want and come by the office and pay
If the warehouse hadn't been
changed, the doors, you have a line formed going in there.
Q. Let's go back over what you
saw. You heard Mr. Liberto talking on the telephone?
Q. Around what time of the day
A. I'd say that was around five
-- ten minutes after, five-fifteen, around five twenty-five, not quite
Q. Five twenty-five to
five-thirty you heard him talking on the telephone?
Q. He received a phone call. What
did you hear him say once again?
A. Shoot the son-of-a-bitch on
Q. Shoot the son-of-a-bitch on
the balcony. Then what happened after that?
A. Then he looked around and seen
me. Then they said, go on and get your merchandise. The locker is made
with two doors, you open one door, then you walks in and open another
door. I went on in and got my merchandise, come on back out. Then when I
was coming back out, the phone rang again. Latch picked it up and give
it to Mr. Liberto. And Mr. Liberto told him to go to his brother in
get his $5,000.
Mr. Liberto wrote me a ticket. I
never would buy nothing from nowhere without a bill. He give me a bill.
I took the bill, put my merchandise in the truck, then I went on the
back side of the company out on that street and I come around to hit
Summer Avenue and hit old 64 home. When I got home, my wife called and
says, do you know Dr. King done got killed? I says, I know it. It all
come back to me in my mind what I had heard. That's what I told her, I
Q. John, did you tell this story
at that time to anyone?
A. I didn't tell it to no one
until it got to worrying me, I wondered what they know I heard. You
know, when you gets kind of itchy -- that was on a Thursday. So on a
Friday or Saturday, no later than Saturday morning, Mr. Baxton Bryant,
who was a Baptist white minister that I know in Nashville, I called him and told him what I
had heard. So that Sunday evening he said, John, I'm in church now.
Says, I'll be there about four o'clock tomorrow evening. When he came
down about four o'clock that Sunday evening, we talked it over, and in
meantime he had contacted Mr. Lucius Burch's son-in-law to meet me and
him with the FBI down here in
Q. And did you have a meeting
with the FBI and any local law enforcement people in
A. Well, that night, that Sunday
night, we met with the FBI. Now, I didn't know whether or not that they
was local police or
somebody else. But the only
somebody I know was the FBI -- one was a tall and one was a lower.
Q. Did you tell them this story,
A. I gave them the same details.
They questioned me two or three hours over the same thing, the same
thing. They questioned me two or three hours over the same thing.
Q. Did you give these details to
them on any other occasion?
A. That Monday, two little young
FBI come out to the store and stayed there half a day questioning me the
same thing. So that Tuesday Robert Powell from New Orleans come there,
which he used to run a store out there on 64 highway, and I wasn't at
the store when he came, he -- the lady where I hide was named Ms. Ida
Mae. The record will show that in my deposition with the FBI. She told
them that I was at the house. So Robert -- I stayed about an hour and a
quarter from the store.
the house, and when he come out
this to the house -- I knowed him -- I never did have no
dealings with him, but I knowed him, and he come out there to see me,
and he talked with me, and at that time he had a big Gulf station in New
Orleans tied up with the Mafias, I know it. I wouldn't say much to him,
but the onliest questions he asked me was how to get to my house from
the back roads. It jumped curious in my mind that all this done happened
and he wanted to know how to come to my house through the back roads.
Q. John, you told this story.
What happened as a result of your giving this information to the
A. Well, in the meantime, Hal
Flannery, which I've got his phone in my pocket right now, he was in the
Justice Department. Of course, he had been working with us on the
I called him that Tuesday and
told him about Robert Powell had been there and I was scared of him.
See, when you buy from
Q. Who has happened as a result
of the information that you gave the officials? Has anything happened in
A. First of all, Dean Milk
Company run my mama down, caught her on the road, run over the truck.
After then they hired Marion Yancy and Rue Grady hired the
beat me up, beat me to death. And they give a 1961 Pontiacand three hundred
fifty dollars to beat me to death.
They got out at the courthouse
and run me in Ms. Fair Theater's yard. That's the person who owns the
theaters in Somervillenow. They still own it. When we was
fighting in the yard, she come out there with her gun, said, if you all
don't quit beating him, I'm going to kill you.
Q. John, were you put in the
hospital as a result of that?
A. Well, I come to my family
doctor -- and I'd rather not discuss his name, because something else
I'm going to bring out, I don't want any reprisals against him -- I
come to my family doctor, and by
my grandparents on my daddy's side come up in slavery, I learned a lot
about nerve doctors. When you take mullet and boil it down, which mullet
has got a little stickers on, it looks like a catfish, you can boil it
down and take Vaseline and make a salve and take iodine salt and lay in
it and draw a sweat out. That's what I did. I come to the doctor. They
examined me and said I didn't have no -- I didn't break no bones.
Q. John, I want to move along
because of the time constraints we have.
A. I understand.
Q. Were you ever asked to go to Washingtonand testify before the House Select
Committee on Assassinations and tell what you have told us here today?
A. Let me bring one other point
Q. John, no, stay, please, with
me and answer this question.
A. All right. Gene Johnson came
down investigating for the Select Committee. Me
and him went over all the
records. I discussed what I know, what I knew with him. And when the
time come for me to if to Washington to testify before the Select
Committee, he come out there with the papers for me to sign, and when he
come out there with the papers for me to sign, I noticed that he had
gotten a little hostile towards me.
Somebody had got, in my opinion,
to him and changed his attitude. That's my thinking. I signed the papers
and got everything ready. I says, John -- he says, John, he says, I'll
call you before you come up and testify before the Select Committee. And
the Select Committee was going on. Two to three days before I was
supposed to go, he called me up and said, John, we don't need you.
Q. So the answer to the question
is that at the end of the day, you were not called to testify before the
Wilder's office, which is on the
east side of the courthouse. Now, let me explain this to
you so you'll understand. When the assassination committee of Dr. King
was going on in Washington, getting
ready to go on, he went to visiting John Wilder's office regular.
Now, the way I got ahold of it, I
had some of our underground watching. Two to three weeks before James
Earl Ray broke pen out of Brushy Mountain, I called Washington and told
the Select Committee that they was going to kill James Earl Ray or
something was going to happen to him.
I talked to Mr. Gene Johnson,
which I've got his phone numbers, I've got Mr. Flanders' phone numbers
in my pocket now, I've got Mr. Dole's phone numbers in my pocket now. I
was in correspondence with all of them.
The Justice Department, what I
said before, the Justice Department covered it up. When I said they
covered up the barnyard, I mean they covered it up. Now, if
you look at the records, the
assistant to the United States Attorney General at that time
was -- it was under the Nixon administration. He had a heavy voice. I
talked to him one time. I says, I know Dr. King's killings, who is in
it, they trying to set me up to get me killed. Mitchell, that was his
name. If you ever talked to him on the phone, he has got a gross voice
like a bullfrog.
Q. All right. Let me ask you
this, Mr. McFerren: Since all this started and you started the civil
rights movement, have you ever been shot?
A. I've been shot, I've been beat
up twice. The citizen council and the Klu Klux Klan hired a man named
Benefield, gave him eighteen hundred dollars to kill me. He got chicken
and didn't kill me. He sent word to me by Reverend Frank Jones. He came
to my brother's house. He didn't even know which one of the houses I
stayed in. Myself, Reverend Frank Jones and Mr. Benefield come down here
on Vance. Our
lawyer's office was at 860 Vance Avenue .
That's Gerald Estes office on Vance. He filed -- he made an affidavit
with the law and sent it to the Justice Department that he was hired to
kill me. It hit on a dead ear. Nothing come about it.
MR. GARRISON: I appreciate it.
Thank you, sir.
BY MR. PEPPER:
Q. Is it true that almost
thirty-one years ago you told the same story that you have told to this
jury and this Court this afternoon?
A. That's correct.
Q. And is that story true to the
best of your recollection and knowledge today as it was then?
A. That's correct.
Q. And have you ever had an
opportunity to tell this story before in a court of law?
A. This is the first time.
MR. PEPPER: John, thank you very
much. No further questions.
received the concern an Aide De
Camp Award from the other governor, the heavy-set guy. I can't remember
what his name is. I received a commendation from the city from Mayor
Herenton, stuff from the senator, letters from -- accommodating (sic)
letters from Vice-president Gore, another letter from Jim Sasser, U.S.senator.
Q. Did any of these have to do
with saving an individual's life, one or other persons' lives?
A. Yes, sir, they sure did.
Q. What were those occasions,
A. The first one was pertaining
to a passenger when I was driving a taxicab who caught a cab up to the SterickBuildingdowntown here and decided he was
going to jump off the roof and commit suicide.
A police officer -- I had radioed
for the police to come. It was on top of the parking garage. The police
officer came, and there was a tussle involved, and they both fell off
the building and I climbed down the
end of the building and pulled
them both in. That is the first time something like that -- I received
some accommodation. Then one of my neighbors was in a fight and got his
throat cut down the street from where I lived, and I kept him from
bleeding to death. I captured his assailant, too. So that was some more
involved with that.
Q. You've been in the right place
at the right time, or depending on how you look at it, maybe the wrong
place at the wrong time. Did you in the course of your time here in
Memphisin your younger years back in the 1960's come to know a man named
A. Not in the 1960's, no, sir.
Q. When did you come to know Mr.
A. In the late 1970's,
approximately 1978, 1979 and 1980.
Q. So you knew him at the end of
the 1970's, that's when you came to know him?
Q. Would you describe to the
Court and the jury how you come to know him, what the circumstances of
your relationship were?
A. Mr. Frank and myself were
friends. He would come to my mother's restaurant on a daily basis early
in the morning and late in the evening he'd come back. I spent most of
my time with him in the evening time. Occasionally he would come there
We had a restaurant, an Italian
restaurant, a pizza restaurant, and he would come and eat breakfast with
my mother and spend the rest the day with me occasionally.
Q. Was the restaurant located
somewhere between his work and his home?
A. Yes, sir, it was. It was
located approximately -- Mr. Frank's -- the Scott Street Market
was about a mile from my restaurant. The way I understand it, he lived
off of Graham somewhere, and we were kind of in between.
Q. He had a produce house at the
warehouse at the Scott Street Market?
A. That's what I understand, yes,
sir, tomato house.
Q. Right. When he -- when you
came to know him, he would stop at the cafe, at your mother's
restaurant, and what would you talk about? What was there between the
two of you that developed, this relationship?
A. Well, at the time I'd been
performing in Las Vegas, and Mr. Frank, he would come in and
drink beer a lot. I knew how to play a song, an Italian song, on the
guitar called Malaguena. I used to play him this song. He used to like
what I would play him and he would tip me money.
Then it got to where Mr. Frank
was -- I had a little small three-piece combo, and he would book -- he
would give me jobs, such as that, performing. He liked for me to play
music. He would talk about the old times and where he came from. He
would talk about my relationship
with my mother. I reminded himself of -- myself of him when he was
young, how I treated my mother and how we lived.
Q. When he talked to you about
the old times or his earlier years, did he tell you where he lived or --
what experiences did he describe?
A. He called it the old country.
I remember playing him that song, he used to lay his head back and would
say, yeah, it is just like I was in the old country, that's the way they
would play it, I like that song.
That's the only mention of his
origin he ever -- where he came from he ever
made to me directly that wasn't pertaining to the
Q. Pertaining to the
United States , did he ever discuss any experiences
or life when in the City of New
A. Yes, sir.
Q. What did he tell you about his
A. Well, I asked him some stuff
that led up to him telling me that he had come from New Orleans, but I
had heard that he was in the Mafia. And I asked him if he was in the
Mafia. And he didn't say yes or
no. He answered me by saying, I pushed a vegetable cart in the French
Quarter with Carlo Marcello when I was a boy. I didn't know what that
let that go. It went over my head. Years later I saw the movie the
assassination of RFK or JFK with Oliver Stone, and Mr. Frank, he talked
Italian, and he said, I push a vegetable cart with Carlo Marcello when I
was a boy. Carlo Marcello, I didn't know what that meant. Then I saw
that movie, and it said Carlos Marcello, the kingpin of the Mafia from
New Orleans. I said, that's Carlo, that's not Carlos, that's Carlo. That's what
threw the two together.
Q. So he confided or told you
about his earlier life experience with Carlos Marcello, the
New OrleansMafia boss?
A. That's correct.
Q. But did you when you first met
him and you heard he was associated with the Mafia, did you know what
the Mafia was at that point?
was predominantly upset about. It
wasn't the subject matter of what it was about, it was the fact that he
would think that he could, you know, go to that level to talk to her
about that. That's what upset me more than anything.
Q. When you heard about this,
what did you do?
A. I went directly to Mr. Frank
about it when he showed up at the pizza parlor and just asked him, I
said, hey, Mr. Frank, did you kill Martin Luther King?
Q. Because what had you heard
that he had said to your mother?
A. He told mama that he had
killed Martin Luther King -- had Martin Luther King killed. I didn't
like him talking that to my mother. I thought he was out of line for
coming forward with that, talking to her. He could talk to me about it.
But he stepped over the line. So that's when I approached him.
Q. You became offended and you
actually just went up to him and confronted him?
pills and wired up. I said, no,
I'm not crazy. He sat there for a second. He says --
THE WITNESS: Your Honor, I don't
want to offend anybody, and I don't know how many people are watching
this television, but I'm going to have to use some --
Q. (BY MR. PEPPER) Just speak
clearly and plainly, just what he said.
A. I'm going to use that N word
nobody wants to hear. I don't want to offend anybody by saying this.
Q. Mr. Whitlock, just say what
A. He told me, he said, I didn't
kill the nigger, but I had it done. I said, what about that other
son-of-a-bitch up there taking credit for it? He says, ahh, he wasn't
nothing but a troublemaker from Missouri, he was a front man.
I didn't know what that meant.
Because "front man" to me means something different than what he was
thinking about. I said, a what? He said, a setup man. I said,
well, why did you kill the
preacher for? He says, ahh, it was about the draft. He says, boy, you
don't even need to be hearing about this. He said, don't you say
nothing. He stood up and he acted like he was going to slap me up upside
the head. So I stood up there. Me and him are looking at each other. He
has got this glare look on his eye. I could tell he was thinking about
It run through my head, you old
son-of-a-bitch, you hit me, I'm going to knock a knot upside your head,
I don't care who you are. He is standing there glaring at me. He says,
you fixing to go to Canada, aren't you? I said, yeah.
Then about that time the phone rang. I just walked over there and
answered the phone and was busy with the pizza stuff, I looked up, and
he is gone. He left his beer sitting there on the table. It was about
Q. Did you ever have any other
discussion with him about this matter?
A. My time frame -- he called me,
okay, on the phone, right after that, and he says, Nate, I've got a job
for you. I went, oh, man, he is going to want me to -- well, let me back
up just a little bit here. Mr. Frank -- there was something that
happened over at the pizza parlor prior to this conversation I had with
him about him having Martin Luther King whacked. Something took place
right prior to that at the pizza parlor that left him open to talk to me
in these kinds of ways. It was a pretty nasty situation, but
I had to do what I had to do over
there. I don't tell everybody what I did. About a week or two prior to
this conversation I had with Mr. Frank, some guy came in, he looked kind
of like John Wayne. He was a big guy, a redneck guy, walked in my
mother's restaurant drinking a beer.
Mama runs over there to the door
and she says, you can't bring a beer in here but I'll sell you one. He
just -- once again, I'm going to have to use some nasty language to make
it how it was. He says, I just might buy this mother-fucking place, and
he back-handed my mama.
When he did, I walked around from
the counter with a nightstick and knocked fire from his tail end and
knocked him through the front door, hit him across here and busted his
eye open real bad, busted his head open, knocked him out on the front
doorstep out there and whacked him again with that stick.
There was a man that was working
out there named Louis Bonsella. He come running
out there and said, don't hit him
no more, Nate, you are going to kill him. I said, I'm
trying to kill this MF. Some other guy come running out the door and
says, oh, wait a
minute, come on, Red, talking about the guy I hit with the stick, come
on, Red, they are
going to kill us. So I hit him in the GP.
So the last I saw these two
knuckle-heads, they were dragging each other down the sidewalk.
Meanwhile, Mr. Frank had got me up in a truck a couple days later, he
got me up in there. Mama called the cops. They come over there. She
filed a report on the guy causing such a disturbance. The lieutenant
shows up over there. He gets me out on there on the sidewalk and
says, Nate, you are going to have to watch yourself because there is
going to start a war over here. I whacked this guy good with that stick.
Mr. Frank got me in the truck. He
started asking me about this fight. He says, were you going to kill him,
Nate? I said, yeah, I was, but Louis stopped me. He said,
who? He said, the guy over there
working at the place. He said, oh, that old dago son-of-a-bitch.
Then he says, well, it is a good
thing you didn't kill him, you would have been in a whole lot of trouble
if you would have. You got out of it, but I would have helped your mama.
He said, could you do it again? I said, I guess so, if somebody come up
in the pizza parlor acting the fool and hit mama, I said, yeah, I'll
tear them up.
He says, no, would you do it just
in general? I said, to who? He said, mostly dope niggers over there on
around Hollywood , going up around the
Hollywoodover Plough Boulevard
. He motioned over there towards Hollywood.
I said, I don't know. He said,
could you do it for some money? I said how much money? He said, five or
ten, it depends. I said, who is it? He says, these dope boys get these
white girls over there, the families still care something about them,
either the police can't or won't do anything
about it and he said that's it,
that's who we want to get right there. I said, who exactly is it? He
said, there is always some nigger around here needs to be killed. I
don't know. I'll let you know.
Well, when he called my back
after we had this conversation about Martin Luther King, he told me
about that, he said, oh, I've got a job for you, Nate. Oh, God, he is
going to want me to kill some dope idiot over here somewhere.
He says, get your nigger. I had a
guy, a black man, that played drums for me, and another man. He says
meet Billy down at the CookConvention Center
. He was talking about a music job.
Q. It wasn't a contract to kill
A. Yeah. He wanted me to play for
Sheriff Bill Morris' Christmas party. I was to go down there to the CookConvention Center
, play this Christmas party and I get paid a check. Then he shows back
there at the pizza parlor. That's
what the conversation was about.
Q. Did there come a time years
later when you wrote a letter to a government official in which you
discussed or in which you stated what you have told this Court and jury
A. I didn't go into detail, but I
had written the governor of Tennessee with a copy written to John
Wilder, the lieutenant governor, and to the -- I sent one to the person
at the Board of Responsibility and to another Memphis attorney, yes,
sir, I did.
Q. And were there any
repercussions on you as a result of that letter and what you said about
A. Yes, sir, it was.
Q. What happened you to?
A. Well, I started having this
guy follow me around in a car that was undercover car that had a bunch
of antennas on it. I was working my taxicab. He was constantly following
me for about two days. Then I got down here at Poplar and
Cleveland and I called my
mother-in-law, ex-mother-in-law up on the phone in Shelby Forrest, and I
had a bunch of cops roll down on me, a bunch of police. I said, heck,
there is a robbery somewhere, I better get out of here. I hung up the
phone and took off.
I didn't know they was there for
me. I get around the corner and I'm pulled over. I had three squad cars
with loads of police with guns to my head. They hit me in the groin
twice, smashed my face up against the back of the car, stretched me out.
One of them cops -- I used to wrestle a couple years ago at the
Coliseum, and one of the cops recognized me from when I
wrestling. He said, wait a minute, this is Nate. They was working on the
hood smashing my face down in that thing, you know. I was just taking
it. They didn't put anything on me that I hadn't hardly had before. So
I'm just taking it however I can take it. But the one cop stopped it.
The guy had a gun to my head while the other one
was working on me. He said, wait
a minute, Nate, what is this about? I said, I don't know, man, I guess
it is my ex-wife or something. I didn't know what it was about.
Q. You didn't put it together at
A. Not at that moment, no, I
didn't. The top cop that knew me, he put me in his squad car and looks
back at me, he said, Nate, have you been making phone calls to
Nashville? I said, ug-huh, not me.
They jerked me out of the car
again. They said, how much change you got on you? I had like eighty
cents in change. They are all looking like he ain't got enough money to
make a long-distance phone call. I said, what are you talking about? He
says -- the cop asked me, he says, do you -- have you been making bomb
threats? I said, I can't even set my VCR much less make a bomb. I don't
know what you are talking about. This is the cop I know. He says, have
you been trying to embezzle money out of anybody, some
government guy? I said, no,
ma'am, what the heck is this? Then all of a sudden this guy that has
been following me, he pulls up there real quick in this unmarked car,
because they are on the radio saying -- I said, if this is all what is
going on, you've got the wrong guy, you need to go back over there
wherever he is on the phone and see if you can find him, because you've
got the wrong person here.
Well, when that took place, the
cop that put all the regular Memphis police on me, the undercover guy,
he come wheeling up and blocks his face so he can't see me and walks by
the car and said, here is the number he is calling. I'm listening out
the window to them. I call him a lying SOB when he walks by the door
because that's what he was was. I ain't called anybody in
Q. Well, the upshot of it all was
that this was serious harassment that happened you to?
A. That's an understatement. Then
they got me downtown, read me my Miranda rights.
I said, am I under arrest? He
said, boy, you in a lot of trouble. He said, you can't get no lawyer,
you can't get no bond. He said, why does the Secret Service have a hold
on a cab driver?
This is that cop up there named
Johnstone, eleventh floor, bomb unit. I says, I can't tell you. He said,
well, you going to have to tell me. I said, I'll talk to the AG about it
because he told me not to say a word to nobody about this. He said, you
ain't talking to nobody until you tell me why the Secret Service has
ahold on this cab driver right here. I said, okay if you really want to
know it, I'll give it you. There are entities within the
government -- he is taking a statement. They give my give me my Miranda
rights. I'm not
sure if I'm under arrest or not. Then I give the statement. You can't
make a statement
unless I done read you your rights, he said. I said, fine. Okay. I guess
I was arrested.
reason why they doing this to me
is there are entities within the United States government that don't
want me to say what I know about the assassination of Martin Luther
King. He almost fainted. He walked out of the room. I saw him through
the window. He was on the FAX machine and he was working the FAX
machine. I read the heading of the paper he had. It had something on
there that said Washington. He walks back in there with the
FAX. Him and Larkin, the other major up there, they read it, and they
said, get the hell out of here. I was arrested with guns to my head, hit
in the groin, read my Miranda, then un-arrested and kicked loose all at
the same time.
Q. My goodness. Nate, thanks very
much for coming down here this afternoon.
MR. PEPPER: No further questions.
THE WITNESS: Dr. Pepper, you
don't have to thank me for telling the truth.
Q. In your opinion at the time
when you interviewed him, within minutes of the killing, after the
killing, would he have been capable of making that kind of
A. No, sir. No way.
Q. Because of his intoxication?
A. No, sir. I don't think he
could. I didn't think enough of his statement that I took to take him
downstairs, downtown and take a formal statement from him and so put it
in my arrest report that he was intoxicated to the point there was no
sense in bringing him downtown.
Q. You put that in your report?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Was that report ever reflected
in the Memphis Police Department investigation report?
A. Yes, sir. It is quite full of
the investigation. We all wrote our little part that we had in it.
report and did you ever see the
comments that you have made just now included in that report?
A. No, sir. I have never read the
report. I never had my hands on it. Well, I did have my hands on, it but
I never had time to read it. When I was promoted in charge of the
homicide squad, there was a report in the office, and I took it out of
the desk -- out of the file and put it in my desk drawer where I could
securely lock it up.
Q. All right.
A. And it was later taken from me
by Chief John Moore. He called me one day and asked me if I had it. I
said yes, I did. He said, bring it to me. I carried it down there. I
haven't seen it since.
Q. Do you know what happened to
A. No, sir.
Q. One final line of questioning.
Were you over in the hospital at the time when the body of Martin Luther
King was present in a morgue room?
THE COURT: Ladies and gentlemen,
let me probably admonish you. You probably have heard some things you
have never heard before about this case. You are not to discuss this
evidence, not with your family, not among yourselves or anyone else.
Having been first duly sworn, was
examined and testified as follows:
BY MR. PEPPER:
Q. Good afternoon, Mr. Hurley. It
has been awhile.
A. It has.
Q. Would you please state your
name and address for the record, please.
A. Charles Hurley,
2595 Cedar Ridge Drive , Germantown
, Tennessee .
Q. Virtually opposite the rooming
house in question?
A. Right, uh-huh.
Q. And therefore virtually
opposite Jim's Grill, the restaurant at the bottom of the rooming house?
A. Yes, I believe that would be
Q. What was your practice on a
usual day when you finished work?
A. Well, what I would do is I
would go downtown and pick up my wife. I worked down on South Florida
Street, which is not really very far from there, and we had one car at
the time, so that's what our usual practice was to do.
Q. On the 4th of April, 1968,
Thursday afternoon, did you go downtown to pick up your wife?
A. I believe, yes.
Q. Do you recall what time of day
A. I normally got off about
four-thirty. It is probably fifteen or
to begin in the morning. One has
come from Florida, but he is prepared to stay over. It
is at Your Honor's discretion, whatever you wish.
MR. GARRISON: Your Honor, his
testimony may not be quite as brief. I will have some cross-examination
THE COURT: Very well. You've
answered the question I might have asked. Ladies and gentlemen, we're
going to stop at this point. We will resume tomorrow at ten o'clock.
Again, please don't discuss the testimony with anyone. That also goes
for the witnesses who have testified here. You are not to discuss your
testimony on the stand here with any of the reporters or anyone else.
scoffing at this headline, you should know that in 1999, in Memphis,
Tennessee, more than three decades after MLK's death,
a jury found local, state, and federal government agencies guilty of
conspiring to assassinate the Nobel Peace Prize winner and civil rights
leader. The same media you would expect to cover such a monumental
decision was absent at the trial, because those news organizations were
part of that conspiracy. William F. Pepper, who was James Earl Ray's
first attorney, called over 70 witnesses to the stand to testify on
every aspect of the assassination. The panel, which consisted of an even
mix of both black and white jurors, took only an hour of deliberation to
find Loyd Jowers and other defendants guilty. If you're skeptical of any
factual claims made here,
click here for a full transcript, broken into individual sections.
Read the testimonies yourself if you don't want to take my word for it.
It really isn't that radical a thing to expect this government to kill
someone who threatened their authority and had the power to organize
millions to protest it. When MLK was killed on April 4, 1968, he was
sanitation workers in Memphis, who were organizing to fight poverty
wages and ruthless working conditions. He was an
outspoken critic of the government's war in Vietnam, and his power
to organize threatened the moneyed corporate interests who were
profiting from the war. At the time of his death, he was gearing up for
Poor People's Campaign, an effort to get people to camp out on the
National Mall to demand anti-poverty legislation – essentially the first
inception of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The government perceived
him as a threat, and had him killed. James Earl Ray was the designated
fall guy, and a complicit media, taking its cues from a government in
fear of MLK, helped sell the "official" story of the assassination.
Here's how they did it.
The defendant in the 1999 civil trial, Loyd Jowers, had been a
Memphis PD officer in the 1940s. He owned a restaurant called Jim's
Grill, a staging ground to orchestrate MLK's assassination underneath
the rooming house where the corporate media alleges James Earl Ray shot
Dr. King. During the trial, William Pepper, the plaintiff's attorney,
played a tape of an incriminating 1998 conversation between Jowers, UN
Ambassador Andrew Young, and Dexter King, MLK's son. Young testified
that Jowers told them he "wanted to get right with God before he died,
wanted to confess it and be free of it."
On the tape, Jowers mentions that those present at the meetings
included MPD officer Marrell McCollough, Earl Clark, an MPD
lieutenant and known as the department's best marksman, another MPD
officer, and two men who were unknown to Jowers but whom he assumed to
be representatives of federal agencies. While Dr. King was in Memphis,
he was under open or eye-to-eye federal surveillance by the 111th
Military Intelligence Group based at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia.
Memphis PD intelligence officer Eli Arkin even admitted to having the
group in his own office. During his last visit to Memphis in late March
of 1968, MLK was under covert surveillance, meaning his room at the
Rivermont was bugged and wired. Even if he went out to the balcony to
speak, his words were recorded via relay. William Pepper alleges in his
closing argument during King v. Jowers that such covert surveillance was
usually done by the Army Security Agency, implying the involvement of at
least two federal agencies.
Jowers also gave an interview to Sam Donaldson on "Prime Time Live" in
1993. The transcript of the interview was read during the trial, and it
was revealed that Jowers openly talked about being asked by produce
warehouse owner Frank Liberto to help with MLK's murder. Liberto had
mafia connections, and sent a courier with $100,000 to Jowers, who owned
a local restaurant, with instructions to hold the money at his
John McFerren owned a store in Memphis and was making a pickup at
Liberto's warehouse at 5:15 p.m. on April 4th, roughly 45 minutes before
the assassination. McFerren testified that he overheard Liberto tell
someone over the phone, "Shoot the son of a bitch on the balcony." Other
witnesses who testified included café owner Lavada Addison, who was
friends with Liberto in the 1970s. She recalled him confiding to her
that he "had Martin Luther King killed." Addison's son, Nathan Whitlock,
also testified. He asked Liberto if he killed MLK, and he responded, "I
didn't kill the nigger but I had it done." When Whitlock pressed him
about James Earl Ray, Liberto replied, "He wasn't nothing but a
troublemaker from Missouri. He was a front man ... a setup man."
The back door of Loyd Jowers' establishment led to a thick crop of
bushes across the street from the Lorraine Motel balcony where Dr. King
was shot. On the taped confession to Andrew Young and Dexter King,
Jowers says after he heard the shot, Lt. Earl Clark, who is now
deceased, laid a smoking rifle at the rear of his restaurant. Jowers
then disassembled the rifle, wrapped it in a tablecloth and prepared it
The corporate media says it was James Earl Ray who shot MLK, and he
did it from the 2nd floor bathroom window of the rooming house across
the street from the Lorraine Motel. The official account alleges the
murder weapon was dropped in a bundle and abandoned at Dan Canipe's
storefront just before he made his getaway. But even those authorities
and media admit that the bullet that tore through MLK's throat didn't
have the same metallurgical composition as the bullets in the rifle left
behind by James Earl Ray. And Judge Joe Brown, a weapons expert called
to testify by Pepper in the 1999 trial, said the rifle allegedly used by
James Earl Ray had a scope that was never sighted in, meaning that the
weapon in question would have fired far to the left and far below the
The actual murder weapon was disposed of by taxi driver James McCraw, a
friend of Jowers. William Hamblin testified in King v. Jowers that
McCraw told him this story over a 15-year period whenever he got drunk.
McCraw repeatedly told Hamblin that he threw the rifle over the
Memphis-Arkansas bridge, meaning that the rifle is at the bottom of the
Mississippi river to this day. And according to Hamblin's testimony,
Canipe said he saw the bundle dropped in front of his store before the
actual shooting occurred.
To make Dr. King vulnerable, plans had to be made to remove him from his
security detail and anyone sympathetic who could be a witness or
interfere with the killing. Two black firefighters, Floyd Newsum and
Norvell Wallace, who were working at Fire Station #2 across the street
from the Lorraine Motel, were each transferred to different fire
stations. Newsum was a civil rights activist and witnessed MLK's last
speech to the striking Memphis sanitation workers, "I Have Seen the
Mountaintop," before getting the call about his transfer. Newsum
testified that he wasn't needed at his new assignment, and that his
transfer meant that Fire Station #2 would be out of commission unless
someone else was sent there in his stead. Newsum talked about having to
make a series of inquiries before finally learning that his reassignment
had been ordered by the Memphis Police Department. Wallace testified
that to that very day, while the official explanation was a vague death
threat, he hadn't once received a satisfactory answer as to why he was
Ed Redditt, a black MPD detective who was assigned to MLK's security
detail, was also removed from the scene an hour before the shooting and
sent home, and the only reason given was a vague death threat.
Jerry Williams, another black MPD detective, was usually tasked with
assembling a security team of black police officers for Dr. King. But he
testified that on the night of the assassination, he wasn't assigned to
form that team.
There was a Black Panther-inspired group called
The Invaders, who were staying at the Lorraine Motel to help MLK
organize a planned march with the striking garbage workers. The Invaders
were ordered to leave the motel after getting into an argument with
members of MLK's entourage. The origins of the argument are unclear,
though several sources affirm that The Invaders had been infiltrated by
Marrell McCollough of the MPD, who later went on to work for the CIA.
And finally, the Tact 10 police escort of several MPD cars that
accompanied Dr. King's security detail were pulled back the day before
the shooting by Inspector Evans. With all possible obstacles out of the
way, MLK was all alone just before the assassination.
Around 7 a.m. on April 5, the morning after the shooting, MPD Inspector
Sam Evans called Public Works Administrator Maynard Stiles and told him
have a crew destroy the crop of bushes adjacent to the rooming house
above Loyd Jowers' restaurant. This is particularly odd coming from a
policeman, since the bushes were in a crime scene area, and crime scene
areas are normally roped off, not to be disturbed. The official
narrative of a sniper in the bathroom at the rooming house was then
reinforced, since a sniper firing from an empty clearing would be far
more visible than one hidden behind a thick crop of bushes.
Normally, when a major political figure is murdered, all possible
witnesses are questioned and asked to make statements. But Memphis PD
neglected to conduct even a basic house-to-house investigation. Olivia
Catling, a resident of nearby Mulberry Street just a block away from the
shooting, testified that she saw a man leave an alley next to the
rooming house across from the Lorraine, climb into a Green 1965
Chevrolet, and speed away, burning rubber right in front of several
police cars without any interference. There was also no questioning of
Captain Weiden, a Memphis firefighter at the fire station closest to the
Lorraine, the same one from which Floyd Newsum had been transferred just
a day before.
Memphis PD and the FBI also suppressed the statements of Ray Hendricks
and William Reed, who said they saw James Earl Ray's white mustang
parked in front of Jowers' restaurant, before seeing it again driving
away as they crossed another street. Ray's alibi was that he had driven
away from the scene to fix a tire, and these two statements that
affirmed his alibi were withheld from Ray's guilty plea jury.
The jury present at Ray's guilty plea hearing also wasn't informed about
the bullet that killed MLK having different striations and markings than
the other bullets kept as evidence, nor that the bullet couldn't be
positively matched as coming from the alleged murder weapon. Three days
after entering the guilty plea, James Earl Ray unsuccessfully attempted
to retract it and demand a trial. Incredibly, James Earl Ray turned down
two separate bribes, one of which was recorded by his brother Jerry Ray,
where he was offered $220,000 by writer William Bradford Huey and the
guarantee of a full pardon if he would just agree to have the story "Why
I Killed Martin Luther King" written on his behalf.
One of the 70 witnesses that William F. Pepper called to testify in King
v. Jowers was Bill Schaap, a practicing attorney with particular
experience in military law, with bar credentials in New York, Chicago,
and DC. Schaap testified at great length about how the government,
through the FBI and the CIA, puts people in key positions on editorial
boards at influential papers like the New York Times and Washington
Post. He describes that although these editorial board members and news
directors at cable news outlets may be liberal in their politics, they
always take the government's side in national security-related stories.
Before you write that off as conspiracy theory, remember how people like
Bill Keller at the New York Times, as well as the
Washington Post editorial board, all cheerfully
led the march to war in Iraq ten years ago.
Another King v. Jowers witness was Earl Caldwell, a New York Times
reporter who was sent to Memphis by an editor named Claude Sitton.
Caldwell testified that the orders from his editor were to "nail Dr.
King." In the publication's effort to sell the story of James Earl Ray
as the murderer, the Times cited an investigation into how Ray got the
money for his Mustang, rifle, and the long road trip to Tennessee from
California. The Times said that according to their own findings as well
as the findings of federal agencies, Ray got the money by robbing a bank
in his hometown of Alton, Illinois. In Pepper's closing argument, he
says that when he or Jerry Ray talked to the chief of police in Alton,
along with the bank president of the branch that was allegedly robbed,
neither said they had been approached by the New York Times, or by the
FBI. Essentially, the Times fabricated the entire story in order to sell
a false narrative that there was no government intervention and that
James Earl Ray was a lone wolf.
So for the following 31 years after King's death, nobody dared to
question the constant reiteration of James Earl Ray as the murderer of
Martin Luther King. Even 13 years after a jury found the government
complicit in a conspiracy to murder the civil rights leader, the
complicit media continues to propagate the false narrative they sold us
three decades ago and vociferously shout down any alternative theories
as to what happened as "conspiracy theory," framing those putting forth
such theories as wackjobs undeserving of any credibility. It's
strikingly similar to how the Washington Post
defended their warmongering in a recent editorial commenting on the
invasion of Iraq, and had one of their reporters
defend the media's leading of the charge into Iraq.
As we remember Dr. King and the important work he did, we should also
reject the official account of his death as loudly as the government and
media shout down anyone who tries to contradict their lies. As
Edward R. Murrow said, "Most truths are so naked that people feel
sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit."
Carl Gibson, 25, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nationwide creative
direct-action movement that mobilized tens of thousands of activists
against corporate tax avoidance and budget cuts in the months leading up
to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Carl and other US Uncut activists
are featured in the documentary "We're Not Broke," which premiered at
the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. He currently lives in Madison,
Wisconsin. You can contact him at
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need
, and follow him on twitter at @uncutCG.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work.
Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to
Reader Supported News.
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Heavy duty investigation. I expect that NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox will air
this story immediately. I'd suggest forwarding it to everyone you know
who ignorant and loves amerika, the present Fascist Terrorist Regime of
Amerika that is. Publish it wherever possible.
Sadly Wikipedia explains why it's hard for press to oppose the
Government later whit-washing of the trial for want of substance? Press
could risk libelous retribution cost to base on a civil suit denied by
US Government own investigators later?
Allegations of conspiracy
In 2000, the U.S. Department of Justice completed the investigation
about Jowers' claims but did not find evidence to support allegations
about conspiracy. The investigation report recommended no further
investigation unless some new reliable facts are presented. In
2002, The New York Times reported that a church minister, Rev. Ronald
Denton Wilson, claimed his father, Henry Clay Wilson—not James Earl
Ray—assassinate d Martin Luther King, Jr. "There is no way a ten-cent
white boy could develop a plan to kill a million-dollar black man."
In 2004, Jesse Jackson stated:
The fact is there were saboteurs to disrupt the march. And within our
own organization, we found a very key person who was on the government
payroll. So infiltration within, saboteurs from without and the press
attacks. ... I will never believe that James Earl Ray had the motive,
the money and the mobility to have done it himself. Our government was
very involved in setting the stage for and I think the escape route for
James Earl Ray.[184
I had the privilege to record William F. Pepper at the Boston Public
Library about 10 years ago. I remember thinking this is a conspiracy
that makes sense: the motives fit, there were clear coordinated efforts
to remove MLK's usual layers of protection, there is ballistic evidence
- and even confessions!
Now compare that to the 9/11 conspiracy clowns who were never able to
establish a clear convincing narrative combining any of these elements.
They're giving the real conspiracies a bad name.
Interesting. You're more willing to credit a plausible narrative based
entirely on hearsay and circumstantial evidence (MLK) than a call, based
on direct public evidence, for further investigation of claims that that
very evidence proves are physically impossible (9/11). I refer you in
the former instance to the June 2000 report by the Civil Rights Division
of the DOJ declining to investigate the questions raised by Pepper in
King v. Jowers (http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/crm/mlk/), and in the
latter instance to the vast video archive of the collapse of WTC
Buildings 1, 2 and 7 on the one hand, and the laws of physics on the
I have no compelling basis to reject Pepper's theory, but I haven't seen
the forensic evidence to support it beyond a reasonable doubt. I do have
grounds that I consider not only compelling but downright dispositive to
doubt the official account of 9/11. I don't need a thesis of my own to
substitute for the official one; it's enough to say that there is
uncontroverted evidence proving that the government claim is simply
So what's the deal here? You must admit that a rigorously critical
review of Pepper's evidence, while it was enough to persuade a jury, is
not enough to remove all doubt. And you must equally admit that the
plain evidence of our eyes and a stopwatch is far more than enough to
warrant a thorough reinvestigation of 9/11. [continue]
I gather that you're not incapable, given a satisfying narrative, of
doubting your government; so I have to ask: what about 9/11 obliges you
to dismiss as "conspiracy clowns" those who have demanded another look
at evidence that has never been explained away?
MEBrowning is obviously still holding the belief that the Democrats are
a lesser evil than the Republicans. WRONG! They are hand in hand in
destroying any semblance of democracy in our nation. We have lost John
F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, Paul Wellstone, and Martin Luther
King Jr. because they stood up against the corrupt 'leadership' of this
nation. This evil has been going on for a very long time but now, in our
current situation, it should be clear to all of us that we need regime
change. Our government is not OURS in any sense. It is time for regime
change here in the U.S. of A. First step is for each of us to resolve
NEVER AGAIN TO VOTE FOR A D OR AN R. There is no lesser evil.
In 1977, James Earl Ray appeared on a television pilot, "The Truth: With
Jack Anderson". He was the highlight of a series of guests who were
given polygraph examinations on camera. Ray was given two tests, and
failed both spectacularly.
Polygraph tests are not evidence, of course. The examiner noted that Ray
was "the most nervous subject he had ever encountered", which may have
led to inaccurate results from the polygraph, which essentially measures
one's stress level.
That said, there is at least some indication that James Earl Ray had
some involvement in Martin Luther King's assassination. He had a rifle
of the right type and caliber and was in the right place at the right
time....surely this was not mere coincidence. Yes--he could have been
set up. And it's hard to believe that anyone planning an assassination
would not bother to sight in a scoped rifle. Or was the rifle dropped at
some point and the scope knocked off aiming point?
On the other hand, as per the above, there were obviously other parties
involved here. Whether they actually carried out the assassination, or
just took several steps to "make sure" Ray was fingered as the guilty
party, other dirty hands were at work. The "official" history should be
Mr. Gibson does not reference the book which provides all the details of
the assassination: Orders to Kill by William Pepper. Look for the second
edition, the one with all the revelations of the 1999 trial.
Nor does Mr. Gibson reference the role of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover
as spelled out by Attorney Pepper in his book.
Every so often a leader comes along who truly wants to make the world a
better place...someone who wants justice and equality for all
people....someo ne with advanced intellectual ability that is able to
bring people together for the common good....I guess that wasn't part of
The term conspiracy theory is used to discredit a lot of speculation
based on deep, factual investigation. With conspiracy out of the way
very little remains, to wit JFK, RK, MLK, 9/11 etc.
Who was behind Sirhan Sirhan? We may never know ...
Revelations such as these have usually been viewed as classic cases of
"the truth shall set us free."
But nowadays, it's a case of the truth imprisoning us even more as its
revelations couldn't be more "instructive" in this era of growing
surveillance and heightened "security". The more American citizens
become aware of such heinous back room manipulations, the more they're
apt to be cowed into silence and acquiescence. Just like the German
people once were.
Long Live Freedom!
Funny how that same media refused to report the verdict of the US
District Court Jury that found the CIA responsible for the murder of
President Kennedy. (United States District Court, Southern District of
Florida, case number 80-1121-Civ-JWK , February 6, 1985)...
Thank you, Carl. It's a very surreal experience living with the official
story of this killing when one knows it's false. I've had the same
experience for many years with respect to the killings of the Kennedys.
The evidence is there but it's as though the difficulty in facing facts
is too daunting for many people. If you haven't yet seen it, check out
my novel which covers these events in the 'sixties:
This is not a conspiracy theory. This is a murder, committed in my name-
and with the taxpayer dollars of my parent's generation. I am so ashamed
of what we allow to happen by our silent, complicient behavior. I can
only remember the words of King himself: "the moral arc of the universe
is long- but it bends toward justice." hoping for Justice to be served
here.. in my lifetime.
Another wonderful investigative report by Carl. He is such a young man
and so thorough in his work. I am sure that this article is more truth
I would love to see him do a similar report on JFK's
assassination as there are so many theories out there, we need to find
out who was really behind it and by no means was Oswald solely
responsible for that heinous crime.
Question: if a jury in Memphis found the conspirators guilty, were they
later acquitted? If not what happened to them? This is an important
piece of information that would help substantiate this article. Thank
All shocking to read! Thanks, Carl, for this report.
What is really tragic is the amount of hatred in America for black
people. We may have thought that most of that ended decades ago, but it
hasn't. The best proof is found watching those who have spent the last
five years trying to damage or destroy President Obama's administration
at every turn.
The white hoods from years ago may not be seen as much today, but
another group has taken over and is working hard to maintain the
This story reminds me so much the murder of JF Kennedy: the same lack of
due security, the same 'amateurish' handling of the investigation, the
same accusations of conspiracy theory to those that dear to doubt the
This is interesting, and I do not doubt one word of it. What I find odd
is the omission of who was in the room with Dr. king. I have heard many
stories over the years; this surely came up at this trial, but was not
covered by this article. Does anyone know?
No surprise here. Folks have been doing their own investigation since
JFK was shot. The results have been published but too many citizens
continue to believe the U.S. government reigns supreme and would never
conduct any crime against citizens - that also includes such as the
attack on the world trade center.
Assassination has never been uncommon in the U.S., no matter the method.
Those wishing to change the system have always been in danger. Just ask
folks who were street active or politically active during the '60's, as
The important question, I think is Why? Not why in general but why was
King killed when he was killed? He had long been a thorn (to say the
least) in the side of much of the power structure (and, e.g., Hoover had
labeled him the most dangerous man in the country).
As long as King was just talking about race he was not a sufficient
enough threat. When he moved from strictly to talking about race to
talking about class as well (as Gibson notes, King was supporting a
sanitation workers strike when he was killed) -- not to mention his
opposition to the Vietnam War -- this was when he became "truly"
dangerous. The same can be said of Malcolm X (who after going to Mecca
and seeing white Muslims comes back to the US and, like King, his views
evolved to understand that it is not just about race but also about
This should be a lesson to all those who have so enthusiasticall y
embraced "identity politics" and in the process abandoned calls for
economic equality and justice and organizing across racial and ethnic
As long as the public keeps accepting uncritically the official accounts
of the murders of JFK, MLK, RFK, the 3000 who died as a result of the
9/11 coup, and the people that died as a result of the followup false
flag anthrax attacks, the agents of the surveillance state apparatus
behind them will continue to be emboldened in the use of criminal means
to achieve their ends.
Just confirms my disdain for the OS corporate owner-media and it's
patsy-like pandering to the halls of power.
It's all smoke and mirrors in it's hubris and they get away with it as
they have the rapt but incurious and fleeting attention of their
lemmings addicted to content-free programming between ever-lengthenin g
commercials for stuff they don't need but are persuaded to want.
Like all corporate self-aggrandizi ng commercials, if it comes our of
the "official" channels, post helen Thomas white house press corps or
owner-media, believe the opposite.
And stick to either the "Alternative" sources US or the foreign press if
you want any facts and depth of reporting.
The quoted Edgar R. Murrow must be revolving in whatever his remains are
It's really becoming more and more like Franco's Spain or Suharto's
Indonesia but instead of the papers being blacked out, they are just
censored more subtly and the foc'rin' screen is merely a reflection of
Rome's "Panem et Circences".
You have a hard time getting many books here like the late Phillip
Agee's or Greg Palast's, except at "alternative" activist book stores
one of which was attacked and the windows smashed in Portland OR not too
The message? "Conform or die"!.
And, how do the oh so tragic killings (slaughters of leaders I've felt,
strongly, since they occurred, to have been by the evil, coup d'etat
takeover, greed and power addicted wannabe govt. controller fiends) of
MLK, JFK, and RFK, give notice to us today that more of such slayings
Anwers: The real McCoy, justice upholding judge, Hon. Judge Forrest in
Fed. Dist. Court (New York's Southern Div.) had Navy Seals escorting her
out of the courtroom and courthouse when ruling in favor of plaintiffs
in the extremely under reported by the 'mess' media trial of the
century: Hedges, et. al. v. Obama, et. al.. Very recently,I, a legal
asst. member of plaintiffs' legal team, was humbled (and, I admit,
comforted and then some), to be told by a big whig in law enforcement,
that I was being watched and kept safe. My hope is that all truth
telling plaintiffs/atto rneys/judge in the aforementioned trial, are
also being kept an eye on, in order to be kept from MLK style martyrdom.
Yep, there's a war going on alright. But, what nearly all Americans do
not comprehend, rather than lied into, erzatz terrorist wars, it's the
war that a Pres. named Eisenhower foretold of, when he warned us of the
power addicted takeover of the military-indust rial complex, the battle
of the evil, villainaire rulers against those who lead and wish to lead
the way to all of us occupying liberty and justice for all.
With the latest murder of a Texas prosector Texas lawmakers and
enforcers are backing off from the Aryans. The gun manufacturers own our
government. Americans have largely given permission and their consent to
the murder of school children, theater goers and law enforcement
officers for years now. Government by and for the people determines the
government they want to live under and deserve. If they want the gun
manufacturers and bankers to rule then that's what they get. Do Chickens
for Col. Sanders really expect to survive?
Let us not forget – while government agents undoubtedly pulled the
trigger of the rifle that murdered Martin Luther King Jr; while
government agents undoubtedly fired the guns that killed President John
F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Sen. Robert Kennedy, Fred Hampton, Alison Krause,
Jeffrey Miller, William Schroeder, Sandy Scheuer, Phillip Gibbs, James
Green; while government agents unquestionably helped protect the killers
of Karen Silkwood and in all probability murdered Sen. Paul Wellstone –
the kill orders nevertheless came from the real One Percent: the
nameless, faceless, Bohemian Grove-type secret circle of Big Business
tyrants that has ruled the United States with its neofascist regimen of
death and suppression since the coup of 22 November 1963.
All that has changed under Barack the Betrayer is the government of the
United States now publicly acknowledges it is no different from the
government of Nazi Germany: constitutional protections have been
nullified and rendered so meaningless, government agents can now murder
us at any time for any reason. Such is capitalist governance: absolute
power and unlimited profit for the Ruling Class, total subjugation for
the rest of us. The only surprise in all this is the huge number of
people who were too stupid to see that capitalism – infinite greed
elevated to maximum virtue – invariably morphs into fascism.
The security at Bohemian Grove just might be breached with a drone of
the type these folks no doubt agree with when used over citizens. There
are other gatherings, such as Bilderberg that would be difficult but not
impossible to intrude upon.
I'd almost rather see Barack the Dictator, as it is clear that no
president can accomplish anything by himself (hopefully herself one of
these days soon). A cooperative congress is necessary; a do-nothing
racist congress just collects a salary and wastes our hard-earned
“Legacy of Secrecy: The Long Shadow of the JFK Assassination” by Lamar
Waldron. This guy did some real good research and he had the same except
that King was killed in exchange for favors to please white supremies in
the south in that era. No conspiracy just connects better dots than most
.. this was good ole boy times and the rednecks in the south hated king
... like obama ...
The Korean b.s. is only a government distraction for preparation to
attack Iran, keeping the real agenda OFF THE FRONT PAGES. Don't believe
a word you read anymore, look behind the words, not at the words.
OK, Carl did a great job reminding us of the truth. First, they killed
MLK, and then they gave him a national holiday. Hoover and the other
trolls killed many of our most courageous and enlightened heroes, and
the despicable corporate media continues to spin the web of lies and
justifications. Many of agree that we need regime change. Fine, but now
what? Nobody has the easy formula to make this happen. How do we do this
and avoid a bloodbath? Forget the election process, that's one of the
most rotten pillars of our society, rotten to the core. The only way is
that the consciousness of many millions must raise so that they will be
in the streets to seize our corrupt government. Is another government
the answer? Will the same bottom feeders rise to the top of the food
chain to oppress the rest of us, as they have done through all of human
(his)story, with the exception of a very few advanced societies? How do
we have direct democracy without having chaos? It's past time to start
putting forth action plans to end the nightmare of amerIkA. I remain
hopeful but skeptical that enough enlightened citizens will tear
themselves away from TV, consumerism, greed and other distractions, to
give a shit enough to have the massive revolt so obviously necessary.
Even if we get that far, how do we deal with the morons and the GMO
humans who will most definitely fuck things up all over again? The
bottom line is: has human evolution come far enough yet, or has it come
to it's ugly end?
THIS is why Dr. King was assassinated. And why he was being shadowed by
US Army intelligence for at least twelve months before his death. It is
unlikely that a Poor People's March on Washington would have been a
major cause of his death.
I served in an Airborne infantry unit in Vietnam --- the 173rd Airborne
Because of institutionaliz ed racism within the Army, white boys would
more often be assigned to learn helicopter maintenance, radar
technology, how to work in tanks, intelligence and administrative skills
etc. while black boys were much more likely to be assigned to carry a
rifle in an infantry unit.
Consequently the closer you would get to the rifle squads (the grunts on
the ground) the higher the percentage of black soldiers. In some
infantry units black soldiers comprised 50% or more of the troops.
And that is why Dr. King WAS a threat. If he told black soldiers to put
their rifles down and refuse to fight -- which he came close to doing in
his Vietnam War speech at the Riverside Church in New York a year to the
DAY before he was killed -- the US ground war in Vietnam would have come
to a screeching halt.
If Malcolm X -- who King had reconciled with had joined in that call,
there would have been no question about the ground war coming to an end.
The Army knew that King had the power -- if he chose to use it -- to
bring the US ground war to a halt. I believe THAT is why the Reverend
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed.
I am a pretty interested and well educted citizen and I NEVER learned of
MLK civil lawsuit til the last go around of MLK's birhtday last january,
and I heard about it here on FB - probably from OM!!!! - mainstream
meida - nothing. today's chciago trib - mentkioned raul, but that raul
was never found . end of single sentence on this !
ck out this video where he talks about how , in the civil trial brought
by teh king familiy inte late 90s, he was the oNLY person there watching
this trial - this is incredible (as he saw it , also) - in addition to
the incredbiole claims that were found to be true under the civil stds
at 2:20 he starts talking about the assassinations
at 4:52 he starts talking about teh mlk lawsuit
at 10:47 - NO ONE from mainstream media was there at the trial !!!
at 11:27 a portugal reporter that everyone in the US was on teh Simpson
and clinton trials , but NO ONE was there
at 14:38 'it is amazing the care that teh govt took to kill mlk'. army
intelligence was there, army rifle unit in case the shooter wd not do
at 18:36 talks about the viet name phoenix program and vets involved in
this top secret forces pgm tasked with killing 'terrorists' were in
Memphis that day.
at 20:47, Note also his comments on 'Crime Stop' from 1984 where the
normal common sense moral and ratiocinative faculties of inference are
blocked beause the conclusions wd be so beyond the pale that it is
This may explain why Dr. King's family came to the conclusion that James
Earl Ray had not been the murderer, and "forgave" him. At the time, it
was mysterious, and the media did not delve into the reasons for their
change of opinion (that I saw). The federal government and its
propaganda machine, the mainstream media, becomes less credible every
For me, Obama / government / corporate Wehrmacht media have NO
CREDIBILITY. I don't believe a word any of them say, starting with that
baby boy toy the slave Obama, serving slavishly his mommy and daddy to
kill, terrorize, assassinate, torture worldwide for his paycheck. This
applies to most all employees of the government now who get paid to kill
worldwide, all part of the War Machine. In fact, is this government
anything but a war machine? Do something right or good and he's as good
as dead. Does he know that? Obama has no insight or courage. insight.
self evaluation and principles require courage.
I've often wondered, why is it that the people I like, that are making
headway doing what seems right for this country, get bumped off while
those that seem totally evil and against everything that I believe in,
do things that seem treasonous to this country, end up getting important
political positions (fox guarding hen house type jobs). Is it that BIG
TIME greed drives them (and these wolves don't hunt alone, ever) to
connive against anyone that does not support their greedy ends? It is so
obvious too, that they have everything SO TIED UP that anyone saying
"Hey, that official story doesn't make sense" is called a "conspiracy
theorist" and EVERYONE tells them to get on with life and accept the
OFFICIAL STORY. I actually have had friends get short with me when I
mention 9/11 not making sense; first time planes disintegrated on
impact, metal buildings crumbling by fire whether hit by the planes or
not. I get, "Oh you're one of those 'conspiracy theorists', eh?!" I've
always learned that if it goes against my instincts and doesn't make
sense, ITS BULLSHIT! Re: John Lennon, do you think his killer was an
independent actor? Me neither. I guess we can see why Koch, et. al. are
so hell bent to control what we hear and know. For me, Ignorance is NOT
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