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Exhibition Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration

Aggie Kenny. James Earl Ray, October 29, 1974. Charcoal and pastel on blue paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (023.00.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsca-51004 © Aggie Kenny
Gift of Tom Girardi

James Earl Ray Attempts to Throw Out His Previous Plea

In October 1974, James Earl Ray attempted to recant his confession for the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis, Tennessee. Aggie Kenny who traveled to Memphis to cover the hearing, drew Ray as he attempted to argue that he was not well-served by his previous attorney, Percy Foreman. Ray argued that his lawyer profited from a book contract with William Bradford Huie, author of He Slew the Dreamer, and had misled him about the consequences of his pleading guilty. In 1975, Judge Robert McRae rejected Ray's claim, and with the exception of a brief escape in 1977, Ray remained in prison for the rest of his life.