James Arthur Ray, the Oprah-approved snakeoil salesman responsible for the deaths of three people, is set to be sentenced next month after getting convicted of three counts of negligent homicide -- and he doesn't think he belongs in prison.
Ray considers himself a self-help guru -- the three deaths for which he's responsible happened during a "spiritual warrior" self-help event where he stuffed dozens of people into a poorly ventilated sweat lodge and discouraged them from leaving.
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.
Ray faces anywhere from probation to nine years in prison when he's sentenced on October 6.
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Ray recently told a probation officer that he knows he's responsible for the deaths, but, because he doesn't consider himself a danger to society, he thinks he should only be sentenced to probation.
That's James Ray's opinion -- we want to know yours: should James Ray go to prison?
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