James Ray Death Lodge Trial Nearing an End; Faces Nine Years in Prison For Sweat Lodge Deaths
The sentencing phase of the trial for convicted snake-oil salesman James Arthur Ray is coming to an end as prosecutors urge the judge in the case to sentence the Oprah-approved "self-help" guru to the maximum: nine years in prison.
Ray was convicted in September on three counts of negligent homicide in the deaths of three people who'd paid thousands of dollars to attend his "Spiritual Warrior" retreat near Sedona.
Part of the retreat had participants crammed into a poorly ventilated, tiny sweat lodge. Dozens were injured during the sweat lodge event, and three people -- 49-year-old Liz Neuman, 38-year-old Kirby Brown, and 40-year-old James Shore -- died.
According to court documents obtained by New Times, Ray discouraged participants from leaving the sweat lodge, even as some were throwing up and passing out.
Neuman of Prior Lake, Minnesota, died of multiple-organ failure after the ceremony. The other two victims, Brown, of Westtown, New York, and Shore, of Wisconsin, each fell victim to heat stroke after being in the sweat tent.
Ray maintains that the deaths were a tragic accident, but prosecutors feel that stuffing dozens of people into a hot, poorly ventilated sweat tent -- and then discouraging them from leaving -- is more than just an accident.
See more of our coverage on Ray here.
Ray's attorney's are arguing for leniency for their client. Rather than the nine years in prison proposed by the prosecution, Ray's attorneys are asking for probation.
The sentencing hearing comes to an end today.Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow will make his decision and sentence Ray tomorrow.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.