Martin Luther King's
Family: No Plans To
Investigate Conspiracy

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 Memphis motel.
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 conspiracy.
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 on Thursday.
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 federal government.
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.


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