He was questioned after MLK’s murder. Now an 80-year-old faces new charges in Florida

Leslie Achter
Leslie Achter

Leslie Allen Achter was questioned during an investigation into the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., according to National Archives records.

Now, recently released from prison, the 80-year-old Achter should not have had a gun, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. His prior conviction: manslaughter. And he is wanted in Missouri after he failed to appear in court Dec. 9 for a violation of probation hearing on separate cases for aggravated stalking and leaving the scene of a crash, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections and court records.

On Tuesday, he showed up in Sarasota. When a firearm cylinder pin fell out of Achter’s pocket when he was taken to a local hospital for an injury reportedly from a vehicle crash, he told detectives he drove here from Missouri after being released from prison and where they could find a gun in his car.

Achter was arrested after being treated and charged with possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and possession of an altered firearm. He is being held in the Sarasota County jail on bonds totaling $8,000.

At 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sarasota deputies responded to the 6000 block of Clark Road to a report of a vehicle crash. A 911 caller reported seeing someone standing outside his home next to a vehicle covered in blood, according to a new release. Deputies arrived to find a bloody Achter.

Achter claimed he had been a passenger in the car, that the car had hit a deer and the driver had fled, according to the sheriff’s office. Forensics experts from the sheriff’s office were called to the scene because of the massive amount of blood and were able to determine that it was not from an animal.

“We are pretty confident it’s from him,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kaitlyn R. Perez said. “He had a laceration on his arm.”

When detectives were interviewing Achter, they say he told them where in his car they could a find disassembled revolver with a missing serial number as well as ammunition.

When deputies checked his criminal history, they discovered prior convictions for manslaughter, aggravated stalking and escape, according to the news release.

In 2014, Achter was ordered to serve two consecutive four-year sentences of probation in separate cases after pleading guilty of aggravated stalking and leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident.

Achter was interviewed June 9, 1977, by the staff of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. No other details were immediately available regarding Achter’s interview.