POSTED: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 4:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 - 4:34pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — On the eve of the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., some extraordinary video of his assassin is being released.
Up until now, video of James Early Ray sat in a box in the archives of the Sheriff's Department in Memphis, Tennessee, where King was killed.
A highlight of the never-publicly-seen video shows Ray sitting in handcuffs on the plane the FBI used to bring him back to Memphis, and the then-sheriff of Shelby County, Bill Morris, reading Ray his rights.
The date is on the video is July 19, 1968, just over three months after King was gunned down as he stood on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Investigators believed Ray fired the fatal shot from the bathroom of a rooming house nearby.
Ray, in turn, fled the country, but was apprehended at London's Heathrow Airport in June and brought back to Memphis that July.
After being fitted with a bulletproof vest, and hustled through areas where the general public was present, Ray ends up at the Shelby County Jail, where he had to strip naked and undergo an examination by a doctor.
The Shelby County Sheriff's Department purchased the video recorder specifically to record all the proceedings as Ray's case made its way through the courts.
It was new technology at the time, and the camera’s operators often proved it; eventually, they got the hang of it.
As it turned out, there weren't that many proceedings to record, because just months after his capture, Ray pled guilty to killing King and was sentenced to 99 years in prison, where he died at age 70 in April 1998.