Long lost video of King assassin discovered in Memphis - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Long lost video of King assassin discovered in Memphis

James Earl Ray being brought into Jail (courtesy: Shelby County Register of Deeds) James Earl Ray being brought into Jail (courtesy: Shelby County Register of Deeds)

(WRCB) – Officials in Shelby County have made a historic discovery.

The county register's office has discovered nine reels of video tape believed to contain the arraignment and guilty plea of Martin Luther King, Jr. assassin James Earl Ray.

The reels, eight five inch and one seven inch video tapes have yet to be released, because Shelby County says they don't possess the equipment to digitize or even view the tapes.

One tape is labeled "James Earl Ray Arraignment 7-22-1968."  Another tape says "Ray Guilty Plea," both of which are interesting given that at the time no cameras of any kind or even sketch artists were allowed in the courtroom. 

Still another one is dated November 11, 1968, which corresponds with a date Ray went to court.  A note that appears to have been attached to one of the reel's boxes is dated July 19, 1968 and reads "Ray on Plane and Arrival at Jail." 

Documents from the jail where Ray was being held seem to confirm the labels. One of the daily jail activity entries mentions taking video equipment into Ray's cell "for the purpose of making a video tape." 

While the actual content of the tapes has not been viewed, the labels and the daily jail activity entry indicate a possible view of historical events never before seen.

Officials in Shelby County are now looking for a qualified company and grant opportunities to restore/convert these tapes to a digital format so as to preserve and provide public access to this historical material.

"This is a unique opportunity to potentially bring to light and preserve intriguing images of a critical piece of our nation's history" said Register Tom Leatherwood.

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