William F. Pepper

William F. Pepper

This article is about the barrister. For other uses, see Dr Pepper (disambiguation).

William Francis Pepper (born August 16, 1937) is an attorney based in New York City who is most noted for his efforts to prove the innocence of James Earl Ray in the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sirhan Sirhan in the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. He is also 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.[1]

Early life

Pepper received a B.A. and M.A. from Columbia University, Ed.D. from the University of Massachusetts and J.D. law degree from Boston College.[2] He was admitted to the bar in 1977.[3] In addition to his United States practice he is a non-practicing barrister in the United Kingdom.[2]

Prominent cases

Martin Luther King cases

Martin Luther King Jr. contacted Pepper after seeing a photo essay Pepper had published entitled The Children of Vietnam published in the January 1967 issue Ramparts magazine depicting victims of napalm in Vietnam.[4] Pepper maintained later that the contact contributed to King's more adamant position against the Vietnam War. Pepper was present at King's April 4, 1967 Riverside Church speech in which King launched a strong campaign against the war.

Pepper thought that King's assassination was part of a government conspiracy and became James Earl Ray's last attorney. He 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 publicized his position in books and represented James Earl Ray in a televised mock trial in an attempt to get Ray the trial that he never had. Ray was found not guilty in the mock trial, though actually convicted of King's assassination.

Through his writing, King's son, Dexter King, took up the cause to prove Ray was innocent. Dexter met with Ray on March 27, 1997, at the Lois DeBerry Special Needs Facility, during which he said that he believed Ray was innocent.[5]

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.[6]

Following the trial, two sisters who worked at Jowers' restaurant recanted their support for the case, with one of them saying that Jowers had fabricated the story so he could make $300,000 to tell the story.[7][8]

Robert F. Kennedy assassination

On February 22, 2012, Pepper and co-counsel Laurie Dusek filed a court brief in U.S. 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.[9]

Other activities

Pepper is involved in Human Rights Law. He has written opinions on the German Border Guards case and more recently an opinion on the application of international law in the Spanish prosecution of individuals relating to war crimes committed post 9/11. For a time he convened the International Human Rights Seminar at Oxford University, during which time individuals such as Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, accepted invitations to address the seminar. He lives primarily in the United States.


  • 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, 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 3-7205-2405-1gred


External links

  • williampepper.com