Q:

Why did Martin Luther King Jr. die?

A:

Quick Answer

Martin Luther King Jr. died after being shot by a sniper while at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968; the exact motivation of the assassin, James Earl Ray, remains a mystery. King was a major leader in the United States civil rights movement, and Ray is known to have held segregationist views. This made King a target for the unstable ex-convict.

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Full Answer

Martin Luther King Jr. stood outside on the motel balcony before he was shot. King was in the city to participate in a march on behalf of the Memphis sanitation workers. He was on the balcony talking with members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the parking lot below.

The assassin fled to Canada and then to the United Kingdom. He was ultimately captured by British officials at London's Heathrow Airport and promptly extradited to the United States. Ray confessed to the King assassination on March 10, 1969, and received a life sentence of 99 years. Because Ray forewent a jury trial, he was ineligible for the death penalty.

Ray later recanted his confession and sought a retrial, claiming that King was murdered as part of a conspiracy. He was unsuccessful in his attempts and died in prison on April 23, 1998.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Where did Martin Luther King die?

    A:

    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., died in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968. He was pronounced dead at St. Joseph Hospital after being struck by an assassin's bullet on the second-floor balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

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  • Q:

    Who killed Martin Luther King Jr.?

    A:

    James Earl Ray was arrested for, and later confessed to, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The shooting of Dr. King occurred in Memphis, Tennessee on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968.

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  • Q:

    Where did Martin Luther King, Jr. get shot?

    A:

    Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot while he stood on the balcony of room 306 at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tenn. He was in the city to support sanitation workers on strike for better pay and working conditions.

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  • Q:

    What happened to the man who killed Martin Luther King Jr?

    A:

    The man who killed Martin Luther King Jr was James Earl Ray, and after the assassination he was imprisoned, before fleeing to the United Kingdom almost a decade later. He was eventually tracked down by the FBI and extradited, before being sentenced to 99 years in prison. Ray had an unstable childhood, there was evidence to suggest he did not support the civil rights movement and he had previous criminal convictions.

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