William Francis Pepper
William Francis Pepper (born August 16, 1937) is a former attorney based in New York City who is most noted for his efforts to prove government culpability and the innocence of James Earl Ray in the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the King family, in subsequent years. Pepper has also been trying to prove the innocence of Sirhan Sirhan in the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. He is the author of several books. He has been active in other government conspiracy cases, including the 9/11 Truth movement, and has advocated that George W. Bush be charged with war crimes.
Martin Luther King cases
Pepper has stated Martin Luther King Jr. contacted Pepper after seeing his photo essay, The Children of Vietnam, which was published in the January 1967 issue of Ramparts magazine. It depicted victims of napalm in Vietnam. Pepper later stated that the contact contributed to King's more adamant position against the Vietnam War. Pepper has said he was present at King's April 4, 1967 Riverside Church speech in which King launched a strong campaign against the war.
James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to King's assassination. Pepper, who was Ray's last attorney, has postulated that Ray was framed by the FBI, the CIA, the military, the Memphis police, and organized crime figures from New Orleans and Memphis. He has publicized his position in books and represented James Earl Ray in a televised mock trial. Ray was found not guilty in the mock trial.
King's youngest son, Dexter King, met with Ray on March 27, 1997, at the Lois M. DeBerry Special Needs Facility. King subsequently said, ''In the name of truth and justice, our family is calling for a trial, a trial James Earl Ray never had. ... I don't think his trial—if he is granted a trial—will necessarily give us the unequivocal proof, but at least in regard to new evidence, we will know more than we do now.''
Following Ray's death, Pepper represented the King family in a wrongful death lawsuit, "King family vs. Loyd Jowers and other unknown co-conspirators". During a trial that lasted four weeks, Pepper produced over seventy witnesses. Jowers, testifying by deposition, stated that James Earl Ray was a scapegoat and not involved in the assassination. Jowers testified that Memphis police officer Earl Clark fired the fatal shots. On December 8, 1999, the Memphis jury found Jowers responsible, and also found that the assassination plot included "governmental agencies." The jury took less than an hour to find in favor of the King family for the requested sum of $100.
Robert F. Kennedy assassination
On February 22, 2012, Pepper and co-counsel Laurie Dusek filed a court brief in District Court in Los Angeles claiming that a second gunman fired the shots that killed Robert F. Kennedy, and petitioning for the release of their client Sirhan Sirhan. Sirhan Sirhan was again denied parol on February 10, 2016. On March 30, 2016, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a further appeal launched by Pepper, noting the appellant has not shown that "jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the petition states a valid claim of the denial of a constitutional right and that jurists of reason would find it debatable whether the district court was correct in its procedural ruling."
- The Self-managed child: Paths to Cultural Rebirth, 1973. ISBN 0-06-090310-4
- Sex Discrimination in Employment: An Analysis and Guide for Practitioner and Student, 1982. ISBN 0-87215-331-2
- Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King jr, 1995. ISBN 0-7867-0253-2
- An Act Of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, 2003. ISBN 1-85984-695-5
- Die Hinrichtung des Martin Luther King, ISBN 3-7205-2405-1
- The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., 2016. ISBN 1-5107-0217-2
- "William Pepper". Radiodujour.com. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
- Boris Lurie Art Foundation (1999-12-08). "Dr. William F. Pepper". Boris Lurie Art Foundation. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
- "William Pepper Lawyer Profile". martindale.com. Retrieved 2010-11-05.
- "NY Times". February 4, 1997.
- Kevin Sack and Emily Yellin (December 10, 1999). "Dr. King's Slaying Finally Draws A Jury Verdict, but to Little Effect". The New York Times.
- Brad Johnson and Michael Martinez (March 4, 2012). "Attorneys for RFK convicted killer Sirhan push 'second gunman' argument". CNN.
- "9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judgement" (PDF).