James Ray Guilty of Negligent Homicide; Manslaughter Charges Didn't Stick
"Spiritual warrior" James Ray was found guilty today of three counts of negligent homicide in the deaths of three people at a 2009 "self-help" retreat near Sedona, during which he guided dozens of people into a poorly ventilated "sweat lodge" and discouraged them from leaving when they felt sick.
Ray could have been convicted of manslaughter.
See more of New Times' coverage of Ray's death lodge fiasco here.
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.
One of the victims, 49-year-old Liz Neuman of Prior Lake, Minnesota died of multiple-organ failure after the ceremony. The other two victims, 38-year-old Kirby Brown of Westtown, New York, and 40-year-old James 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.
Prosecutors argued for manslaughter convictions, but Ray's high-priced attorney, Thomas Kelly, persuaded jurors otherwise and he was found not guilty on those charges.
Ray faces up to 11 years in prison.
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