NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ James Earl Ray was in fair condition Thursday after being hospitalized for the eighth time in the past year with liver problems.

Ray, 69, the confessed assassin of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., suffers from cirrhosis of the liver and was transferred Wednesday from a state prison hospital to a locked unit of Columbia Memorial Hospital.

His lawyers say Ray will die without a new liver. Two Tennessee hospitals have refused to consider Ray for a transplant because of his age. Prison officials refuse to allow Ray to be taken out of state for a transplant.

Hospital officials say Ray was alert and awake. He underwent a series of tests, but results were not available.

Ray is serving a 99-year sentence for killing King in Memphis in 1968. Ray confessed to the killing in 1969 but recanted days later and has sought a trial ever since.

A gun belonging to Ray _ and with his fingerprints on it _ was found near the murder scene. Ray claims it was planted to frame him.