News

James Arthur Ray Sweat Lodge Trial Vacated -- No New Date Set

The trial for James Arthur Ray, the Oprah-approved "self-help" guru who organized a deadly sweat-lodge retreat in Sedona last year, won't begin on August 31, as originally scheduled.

Court docs released yesterday show Ray's trial has been vacated and that no new date has yet been set.

The reason for the delay is that the judge in the case, Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow, has been assigned to another trial that overlaps with Ray's.


Darrow -- who probably wouldn't be too upset to get as far away from the James Ray circus as possible -- suggested that another judge take the case.

As of yesterday, however, the case still belonged to Darrow.

Last week, Ray's legal team pushed to have certain evidence tossed.

Ray's attorneys filed several motions to suppress, requesting that financial records, testimony from previous events, and autopsy photos be barred from his August trial.

The lawyers, according to court docs, claim the evidence would confuse jurors, generate prejudice against Ray, and waste judicial resources.

Ray's been charged with three counts of manslaughter stemming from the deaths of three people at a self-help retreat in Sedona.

The victims, Kirby Brown, 38, James Shore, 40, and Liz Neuman, 49, each died while participating in Ray's "Spiritual Warrior" retreat after spending nearly an hour in a poorly ventilated sweat lodge.

Many of the other participants -- um, the ones who didn't die -- say Ray was pressuring participants to stay in the crammed tent even as people began passing out and throwing up from the heat.


Hearings to go over Ray's motions to suppress were scheduled for July 21 and 22. It's unclear at the moment if Darrow's other trial will affect those dates. 

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
James King
Contact: James King