THE COURT: In answer to the question did Loyd Jowers participate in a conspiracy to do harm to Dr. Martin Luther King, your answer is yes. Do you also find that others, including governmental agencies, were parties to this conspiracy as alleged by the defendant? Your answer to that one is also yes.
In 1977 the family of Martin Luther King engaged an attorney and friend, Dr. William Pepper, to investigate a suspicion they had. They no longer believed that James Earl Ray was the killer. For their peace of mind, for an accurate record of history, and out of a sense of justice they conducted a two decade long investigation. The evidence they uncovered was put before a jury in Memphis, TN, in November 1999.
70 witnesses testified under oath, 4,000 pages of transcripts described the evidence, much of it new. It took the jury 59 minutes to come back with their decision that Loyd Jowers, owner of Jim’s Grill, had participated in a conspiracy to kill King, a conspiracy that included J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, Richard Helms and the CIA, the military, the Memphis Police Department , and organized crime. That verdict exonerated James Earl Ray who had already died in prison.
The news of the verdict, in one of the most important national security trials in modern history, was suppressed. And to this day — with very, very few exceptions — the public does not know that this trial took place and what the outcome was.
William Pepper’s 2003 book, An Act of State, The Execution of Martin Luther King, published by Verso, gave a detailed report of the trial. The book was systematically ignored. Pepper said he had been personally turned down by reviewers for major media. They did not want to put their jobs and reputation on the line.