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Crime History: MLK assassin escapes from prison

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe,Crime History

On this day, June 10, in 1977, the assassin of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. escaped from prison.

Using a jail-yard fight as a diversion, James Earl Ray and six other convicts used a ladder made of broken pieces of pipe to scale the 14-foot wall of the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Tennessee.

It was Ray's second escape from prison. He had managed to escape from a Missouri penitentiary in 1967, and was a fugitive at the time he shot and killed King on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tenn.

Three days after he fled the Tennessee prison, law enforcement officials found Ray and the other inmates under a pile of leaves in the snake-infested woods near the prison.

A year was added to Ray's previous sentence, to total 100 years.

-- Scott McCabe

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