- ATLANTA (CNN) -- Despite
a jury's finding that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was the victim of
a murder conspiracy -- not a lone gunman -- the civil rights leader's family
said Thursday it doesn't plan to pursue the 31-year-old assassination case
any further. The Justice Department said its own investigation is not likely
to produce any criminal charges.
- "Our family has no interest in retribution,"
King's widow, Coretta Scott King, said Thursday, one day after a Memphis
jury ruled in the family's favor in a wrongful death lawsuit.
- "Instead, our sole concern has been that the full
truth about the assassination be revealed and adjudicated in a court of
law," she told a news conference in Atlanta, where her husband was
born and is buried.
- "As far as the family is concerned, we have done
our part," Mrs. King told CNN in a separate interview. "We feel
that we have won a victory and we are prepared to move on with our lives
and hope that other people will join us in this process, so that the nation
can move on with the healing that is so necessary."
- Mrs. King: 'Mafia' part of the conspiracy
- The Kings had sued Loyd Jowers, a retired Memphis businessman
who claimed six years ago that he paid someone other than James Earl Ray
-- who pleaded guilty to killing King but later recanted his confession.
- The trial was the first time any jury had the opportunity
to hear theories of a murder conspiracy in the 1968 assassination at a
- The six blacks and six whites on the jury deliberated
only about three hours before returning Wednesday's verdict and awarding
the Kings $100 in damages.
- The Kings had asked for minimal damages, saying they
were more interested in a verdict that would support their belief of a
- The suit named Jowers and other "unnamed conspirators,"
so the verdict did not identify anyone else who might have been involved.
- But Mrs. King did. "The jury was clearly convinced
that the extensive evidence that was presented during the trial (showed
that) in addition to Mr. Jowers, a conspiracy of the Mafia, local, state
and federal government agencies were deeply involved in the assassination
of my husband."
- Justice Dept. report due soon
- Last year, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno ordered a
limited investigation by the Justice Department into two allegations of
a conspiracy in the King murder. One was Jowers' claim. The other was a
statement by former FBI Agent Donald Wilson that he found papers in Ray's
car that might support a conspiracy.
- The results of the federal probe could be released within
two weeks, Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder told a Washington news conference
- While declining to release specific findings, Holder
told reporters: "I would not expect that there would be any criminal
prosecution out of our report."
- Holder said he doubted the report would put to rest speculation
about the 1968 killing.
- The Justice report "is not a very broad-based look
at all the possibilities," Holder said. "I suspect that given
the verdict (Wednesday), this will renew interest in the King assassination,
and I suspect plant in the minds of many people doubts about some of those
conclusions that were reached earlier."
- A civil court jury finding a defendant such as Jowers
at fault relies on a standard of a preponderance of evidence. In a criminal
case, a defendant must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- 'We don't care what the Justice Department does'
- Like his mother, King's son Dexter said the family considers
the verdict a final victory. He said the trial revealed "overwhelming
evidence about the conspiracy" -- proof that Ray did not act alone.
- "We don't care what the Justice Department does,"
he said at the Atlanta news conference. "Because of information that
came out in the Memphis trial," he said, "We believe that this
case is over. ... We know what happened. This is the period at the end
of the sentence."
- Although the Justice Department conducted a criminal
investigation, statutes of limitation would bar prosecution of many crimes
that are 30 years old, with the possible exception of an ongoing conspiracy.
Holder did not say whether Justice investigators found no conspiracy or
found no crimes previously unknown.
- 'This was about money'
- William Pepper, the Kings' lawyer, told jurors that Jowers,
73, was part of a vast conspiracy involving the Mafia and agents of the
- He said King was targeted because of his opposition to
the Vietnam War and plans for a huge "poor peoples' march" on
Washington -- actions that he said angered big-money defense contractors
and threatened to redistribute wealth in America.
- "This was about money," Pepper told jurors.
- The order to kill King, Pepper said, came from the head
of organized crime in New Orleans to a Memphis produce dealer who got Jowers
to handle the payoff and murder weapon. An Army sniper squad was in place
to shoot King if the Mafia hit failed, Pepper said.
- Pepper, who also represented Ray for years, said a cover-up
following the assassination involved the FBI, CIA, the news media and Army
intelligence, as well as many state and city officials.