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[Martin Luther King, Jr., Assassination]

James Earl Ray

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Ray sends a note with a signed “pic of where I work,” the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary laundry

James Earl Ray, 1928–1998.  Convicted assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Autograph Note Signed,  J. Ray, on a 3” x 5” card, together with a photograph signed James E. Ray, [Petros, Tennessee], December 15, 1988.  With original envelope.

Ray writes to send correspondents a photograph of the laundry at Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Tennessee, where he spent virtually all of the rest of his life trying to get a trial. 

On the back of the photograph, he signs his signature and writes “Laundry / Brushy Mountain Prison / Petros, Ten. 37845.”  He sends a cover note on a card along with the photo in which he writes, in full:  “Enclosed a pic of where I work.  If I didn’t mention it, thanks for the 20$.” 

Ray fled the country after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968.  Two months later, he was arrested in England trying to board a plane for Belgium with a false Canadian passport bearing an alias name.  He was extradited to the United States and charged with the murder.  He confessed, pled guilty, and received a 99-year prison sentence.  Almost immediately, he recanted his confession, stating that he had pled guilty on the advice of his attorney in order to avoid the death penalty.  He spent the rest of his life in prison unsuccessfully trying to withdraw his guilty plea and obtain a trial. 

Ray escaped from Brushy Mountain in 1977 but was rearrested three days later.  For the attempted escape, a year was tacked onto his sentence, making it 100 years.  He remained imprisoned at Brushy Mountain until he was transferred to another Tennessee prison with a hospital facility before his death. 

This photo of Brushy Mountain with Ray’s note and signature on the back is clean and bright and is in very fine condition.  Ray has penned the piece in black ballpoint.  The card with the cover note has considerable soiling and staining, affecting the signature and portions of the handwriting, and is in good condition.  The original mailing envelope, which Ray has likewise addressed in black ballpoint, has toning and handling marks, which are not as pronounced as the scan below suggests, but is also considerably stained on the back.  It, too, is in good condition.


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Three pieces:  $350.00





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