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Judge Denies Gun Release Bid

November 7, 1998

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A judge said Friday he could not consider a request for the rifle believed to have been used to kill Martin Luther King Jr. because the proper petition had not been filed.

Jerry Ray, the brother of confessed King assassin James Earl Ray, says he is entitled to the rifle as executor of his brother’s estate. James Earl Ray died in prison in April.

The gun is in Shelby County Criminal Court, and Jerry Ray said he has been offered $100,000 for it by the Conspiracy Museum in Dallas.

But Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons said he plans to send the rifle to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.

Probate Judge Frank Clement said he can’t adjudicate the dispute because Ray’s lawyers have only filed a motion to have the gun released, rather than a stronger petition, which would give Clement jurisdiction over the case.

``I’m under the impression that I’m not even able to say `howdy’ until a petition is filed,″ Clement said. ``I won’t even go to first base without a petition.″

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