Martin Luther King Killer's Ex-Wife Charged With Cruelty Against 44 Dogs

The ex-wife of the man who shot and killed civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. has been arrested in Tennessee over animal abuse allegations.

Anna Sandhu Ray, 74, was charged with 44 counts of animal cruelty after dozens of dogs were recused from squalid living conditions at a property in Jackson on June 21.

Ray, who married James Earl Ray in 1978 while he was serving a 99-year-old prison sentence for assassinating King on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis in 1969, appeared at Jackson City Court Tuesday to face the charges on June 22.

The Jackson Animal Care Center said they initiated a court-ordered seizure of all the dogs on the property following months of investigation. In total, 44 living dogs and at least three deceased dogs were removed from the property by authorities, Animal Rescue Corps said in a statement.

"The conditions on this property are some of the worst we've seen. It's absolutely horrible," said Amy Haverstick, ARC's director of operations. "These poor animals have endured extreme suffering."

According to a police report seen by WKRN, the rescued dogs were "covered in feces and parasites" and "eating their own feces."

ARC said many of the dogs exhibited signs of severe and chronic neglect, including emaciation, starvation, intestinal worms and external parasites. The dogs were also dehydrated as none of them had access to food or water.

During her court appearance, Ray claimed that she "took care of her babies."

"I laid on the back bedroom floor. They laid all around me, and we slept together. I didn't catch anything. I don't have anything," Ray said.

Ray told the court she had been living in Jackson for around four years after being priced out of her home in Nashville.

Judge Blake Anderson ordered Ray to undergo an evaluation and set her bond at $5,000.

The Associated Press reported in 1996 that Ray was arrested after authorities found several dead animals inside her home in Knoxville.

The defendant said she wanted to end her marriage with her husband in 1988, citing irreconcilable differences.

AP reported she decided to divorce her then-husband after being told she would be ″cut out″ of any profits from a book he planned on writing about King's murder, in which he claimed that the FBI conspired to kill King.

Ray said she believed the assassination was instigated by the Soviet government.

Jackson Police have been contacted for comment.

 James Earl Ray
James Earl Ray, who entered a guilty plea in March, 1969, in the killing of Martin Luther King, pictured in 1982. His ex-wife, Anna Sandhu Ray, 74, has been charged with 44 counts of animal cruelty. Bettmann / Contributor