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Exhibition Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration

Howard Brodie. Ray Trial Jury, March 10, 1969. Color crayon on white paper. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress (022.00.00)
LC-DIG-ppmsca-51003 © Estate of Howard Brodie
Gift of Howard Brodie

Jury for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Assassin

When James Earl Ray confessed to the assassination of Nobel laureate and civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., nearly one year after King was murdered on April 4, 1968, Judge W. Preston Battle empaneled a jury that included two African American men. Under Tennessee law, even when Ray entered a guilty plea, a jury still had to hear the outline of the case and accept the judge's sentence of ninety-nine years in prison. Ray died of organ failure in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1998 maintaining, despite his confession, that he was innocent: Ray v. State, 451 S.W.2d 854 (1970).