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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Assassin Wants New Testing On Weapon in King Killing

MEMPHIS, Tennessee -- James Earl Ray's fingerprints were on the hunting rifle found a few hundred meters from the motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968.

Ray admitted buying the rifle and bringing it to Memphis, and pleaded guilty to killing the man who led a civil rights movement among American blacks.

But now Ray wants new scientific tests on the 30.06 Remington in hopes of proving it wasn't the murder weapon and he was not the murderer.

Criminal Court Judge Joe Brown was to hear Ray's lawyers argue Thursday for the tests, which Ray hopes will help him in his attempt to withdraw his plea and go to trial.

But prosecutors said Ray has used up his appeals in Tennessee courts.

"He's the confessed killer. Nothing else out there can really be looked upon as credible evidence,'' said state prosecutor John Campbell.

Conspiracy theorists have argued for years that Ray was a bungling, petty criminal who could not have pulled off the assassination alone.

Their theories, some of which include claims of government wrongdoing, often note that authorities have never proven that Ray's gun was the murder weapon.

To have new tests, Ray's lawyers must first convince the courts that improved technology can determine if the rifle found at the scene killed King.