July 14, 1997

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NAACP decries new trial for King assassin


The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- NAACP members at the group's convention said they will not support a new trial for James Earl Ray until he reveals what he knows about the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were divided regarding a Tennessee judge's statement Friday that bullets fired from Ray's gun had different marks than the bullet that killed King in 1968

Ray's lawyers want the governor of Tennessee to release Ray from prison because he has a liver disease and is near death. They also want another trial.

''If James Earl Ray can come up with helpful evidence then why not?'' said NAACP member Jody Armour. Armour is also a law professor at the University of Southern California. ''Prosecutors have certainly cut similar deals with defendants in the past.''

NAACP general counsel Dennis Hayes said he will not support further investigation until he is satisfied Ray reveals everything he knows about the murder. Armour also wants Ray to speak out.

''James Earl Ray says he did not pull the trigger but he has not come forward with what he does know,'' Hayes said.

Others said King's relatives should have final say about further investigations.

"The status of the case should be based on what's best for the King family,'' said NAACP member Bernard Taylor of Pittsburgh. ``If they believe they need to know more then there should be further investigations.''

Taylor said the case should not be reopened just to prove whether King's assassination was a conspiracy.

"I think it would just reopen old wounds and not lead to anything constructive or productive,'' Taylor said.

NAACP member Monique Taylor disagreed.

"I want it open so I can learn more,'' she said. "As far as old wounds go, I don't think they've ever closed.''