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James Ray's Lawyers Want Trial Moved to Phoenix

Lawyers for snake-oil salesman/"spiritual warrior" James Arthur Ray want the Oprah-approved "self-help" guru's manslaughter trial moved from Yavapai County to a court in the Phoenix area.

Ray's attorneys don't believe it's possible for their client to get a fair trial in Yavapai County because of  extensive media coverage of the case. They've renewed a request asking the trial be moved to Maricopa County.

Ray's lawyers made a similar request last summer, which was denied by Judge Warren Darrow. At the time, though, Darrow said he'd still consider the request as the case moves closer to trial.

The Associated Press reports that his attorneys say jury questionnaires reveal widespread prejudice against Ray in Yavapai County.

Ray's been charged with three counts of manslaughter for the October 2009 deaths of three participants of a sweat lodge ceremony in Sedona.

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's trial is scheduled to begin February 18.

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James King
Contact: James King