Famed trial attorney Percy Eugene Foreman, best known for bartering a guilty plea for the life of the man who killed Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has died at age 86.

Foreman, often hailed as the king of Texas' criminal defense lawyers, died minutes after suffering cardiac arrest Thursday at Methodist Hospital.Foreman was known for his courtroom theatrics, issue-clouding rhetoric, spotlight shifting and verbal attacks on prosecution witnesses that kept law students and spectators spellbound.

"In a murder case, you should never allow the defendant to be tried," he once explained. "Try someone else - the husband, the lover, the police, or if the case has social implications, society generally. But never the defendant."

Foreman, however, persuaded James Earl Ray to plead guilty to the 1968 slaying of King, the Nobel Prize-winning civil rights activist, in exchange for a 99-year sentence. Ray charged later that Foreman pressured him into the plea by saying the odds were "99 percent" certain he would go to the electric chair if he faced a jury.