Martin Luther King, Jr. was an American clergyman, activist, and prominent leader of the African-American civil rights movement and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who became known for his advancement of civil rights by using civil disobedience. He was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968, at the age of 39. King was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:05PM that evening. 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 later made many attempts to withdraw his guilty plea and be tried by a jury, but was unsuccessful; he died in prison on April 23, 1998, at the age of 70.
The King family and others believe that the assassination was carried out by a conspiracy involving the US government, as alleged by Loyd Jowers in 1993, and that James Earl Ray was a scapegoat. This conclusion was affirmed by a jury in a 1999 civil trial.