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James Earl Ray (March 10th, 1928 - April 23rd, 1998) was an American criminal convicted of the assassination of civil rights and anti-war activist Martin Luther King Jr.

Ray was convicted on March 10th, 1969, after entering a guilty plea to forgo a jury trial. Had he been found guilty by jury trial, he would have been eligible for the death penalty. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison. He later recanted his confession and tried unsuccessfully to gain a new trial. He died in prison of hepatitis C.