July 11, 1997
Web posted at: 11:47 a.m. EDT (1547 GMT)
MEMPHIS, Tennessee (CNN) -- Markings on some of the test bullets fired from the rifle believed used in the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. do not match the markings on the bullet that killed King, according to an affidavit filed by confessed killer James Earl Ray's attorneys.
The results of bullet tests, conducted in May, were read in court by Judge Joseph Brown .
Lawyers for Ray, who sought the tests in a bid to prove his innocence, are asking Brown to approve additional tests on Ray's .30-06 hunting rifle .
"A comparison was conducted of the bullet material removed from Dr. King with the 12 test bullets that could be adequately analyzed," Brown said, reading from a report on the test firings.
"This comparison revealed that the gross and unique characteristic signature left on the 12 test bullets by the James Earl Ray rifle was not present on the death bullet."
The FBI claimed that the gun had not been properly cleaned for the test firings and demanded they be allowed to retest, then simply stalled carrying out the new tests until James Earl Ray died in prison. At that point, legal efforts to get at the truth of Martin Luther King's assassination were thrown out of court for "lack of standing."
As for the rifle claimed to have been James Earl Ray's, the marks left on the test bullets were caused by a manufacturing defect, and would have had to have been on all bullets fired previously by that same rifle. Since those marks did not appear on the bullet that killed Dr. King, Ray was indeed innocent. There was no evidence that ever linked him to the murder. He was jailed on the basis of a confession suggested by his conveniently court-appointed lawyer; a confession James immediately retracted to no avail.
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