Martin Luther King, Jr., a prominent American Civil Rights leader and, according to a Gallup poll conducted in 2000, the second most admired person of the 20th century, was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39. On June 10, 1968, James Earl Ray, a fugitive from the Missouri State Penitentiary, was arrested in London at Heathrow Airport,
extradited to the United States, and charged with the crime. On March
10, 1969, Ray entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in
the Tennessee state penitentiary.
Ray's many later attempts to withdraw his guilty plea and be tried by a
jury were unsuccessful; he died in prison on April 23, 1998, at the age