James Ray Death Lodge Trial: Jury Selection Under Way

Categories: Death Lodge
sweatlodge heat.jpg
The manslaughter trial for "spiritual warrior"/snakeoil salesman James Arthur Ray, the Oprah-approved "self-help guru" charged with the deaths of three people in Sedona in 2009, is underway in a Yavapai County Courtroom, where prosecutors and Ray's attorneys are in the midst of jury selection.

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 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's attorneys have repeatedly tried to have the trial moved from Yavapai County to somewhere closer to Phoenix. They 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.

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

Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin March 1.

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14 comments
Lightseeker
Lightseeker

They died because they attracted that to their lives. They manifested it. There are no victms here.You know why you always look for someone to blame for everything? This is because you are too afraid of taking full responsibility for your lives. It's much easier to believe in victms and agressors, that things out of your control may happen to you. So this way you can justify your sad story, your unsuccesful life and your inability to change it.The only lucid person here is the police officer that first posted.Stop complaining and grow up. Go take care of your own businesses.

Chici
Chici

It is an insult to all police officers for you to link your comments to them. Are you mad? Blocking an exit and bullying people who wanted to leave is absurb. This man believed he was above all - above God and that he controlled all of these people. Discussing signing contracts....perhaps if the contracts read, Buyer Beware James Ray believes you must die first to be reborn.....and that you were informed that you would be ridiculed and belittled to stay in a tent that wasn't even authorized to hold that many peopel or built properly or that in order to get out you would have to crawl over other people when you could hardly breather and were not even able to stand upright. Honestly where are you coming from?

AJoseph
AJoseph

A post I created today to someone who claims he was once a police officer:

As a police officer, if you sign an agreement agreeing to take full responsibility for your actions while participating in the activities of a Warrior Workshop, if you so choose to participate, then that is exactly what you would do. If you choose to take unnecessary risks and go back into a sweat lodge when you know in your heart you can't handle it you have no one to blame but yourself for whatever may happen as a result. You KNOW this is true, yet you evade this truth and refuse to own up to it. Is this your idea your "duty" as a man of integrity? Any truly wise police officer will agree with me here. It's the obvious truth!

Ann
Ann

In response to Lightseeker "James, is that you????" (eye roll)

sedonajohn
sedonajohn

Kewl another new name Lee Kuan. Give it a rest and admit if people need to take responsibility then so does JAR. Do you really think any one who is following this trial is fooled by your Jason. George, James, Amsola, Jordan, Major, Minor, etc. names? No one is. JRI is defunct, you can't convince anyone that JAR is God and you're out of work, so give it a rest and find new work, maybe promoting your tai chi method you developed?!

Amsola12
Amsola12

I don't think James Ray was belittling anyone who wanted to leave. His role at this sweat lodge was that of a leader so he did what they paid him to do which was mentally support them to "out test" their own bodies. These are grown people not children and they did sign a waiver attesting that they knew the risk involved. I would never have even attempted to enter a sweat lodge if I fasted for 36 hours prior. I know my bodies limits and the victims of this accident should have as well. Im not understanding how everyone thinks James Arthur Ray is responsible. I am not a follower of James nor could I ever be one because I think for myself and the new age movement is for people who are lost.

Cascade
Cascade

Get Real - so all that followed Jim Jones were totally responsible. This man is a charlitan and I know hundreds of police officers who would say your comments and not only out of line but totally offensive. You think that by paying a man $10,000 to help guide you that he can guide you down the path of death and it is your own fault. I don't believe you are a police officer but an employee of James Ray.

DocOfTheBay
DocOfTheBay

As a physician, I attest that if you become dehydrated, hypotensive, ketotic, hyperthermic, tachycardic, and hypoxic with heat stroke, you lack the neuropsychiatric function to be capable of rational judgment or responsible action.

MD, San Francisco Bay Area

sedonajohn
sedonajohn

I am actually responding to your response below, it just would not let me. First I do appologize that I thought you were Lee Kuan, although he has posted on this particular thread under two of his aliases, your style of writing is much more cohesive and intelligently written. It was just the same message that he continually spouts off on every thread about the Sedona incident which led me to believe you were he. Many of us believe he worked for JRI or knows JAR personally being that he claims to be from HI in the same area as JAR.

That said, I do agree with you that the people who attended this event had their ability to think freely taken away from them by JAR. This is just one more tactic he uses that cult leaders use. Starvation and lack of water are typically used to break people's spirit, mind and body and therefore I do feel he is culpable to some degree for what happened.

My point, however, was not really about this particular group of people but about many of my friends in Sedona who are involved in the New Age movement. I don't know how mnuch you know about Sedona, but many of the current residents came there in the late 60's and early 70's as part of the Hippie Movement. We actually have two of the only existing Hippie Communes left in the US in Sedona. After the movement ended, many of them went on to make substantial livings as artists or in the technology related fields and eventually retired or moved to Sedona. Those were the people I was really referring to, sorry if you misunderstood.

Sedona Cowboy
Sedona Cowboy

"His role at this sweat lodge was that of a leader so he did what they paid him to do which was mentally support them to "out test" their own bodies...I would never have even attempted to enter a sweat lodge if I fasted for 36 hours prior. I know my bodies limits and the victims of this accident should have as well."

OK, so it was JAR's "job" to encourage the participants to "out-test" their limitations but when they do exactly that they are at fault? Your observations are a bit contradictory, don't you think?

"These are grown people not children and they did sign a waiver attesting that they knew the risk involved."

These were participants in a seminar/retreat. How many people who attend seminars and retreats expect the risks to include death, illness, heat stroke or hospitalization? This was not a work shop in bungee jumping, extreme skiing or sky diving it was a self help retreat.

"I am not a follower of James nor could I ever be one because I think for myself and the new age movement is for people who are lost."

Funny, most of the New Agers I know in Sedona are Free Thinkers who use the precepts of Eastern and Western Philosophies to improve their lives, not because they are lost. They believe in the inter-relation of Mind, Body and Spirit, use meditation as a form of relaxation rather than using traditional medicines, exercise regularly, believe in holistic medicine and lead very full and enriched lives. Oh yeah, and they are not so sacrosanct as to have to put others down for their beliefs but instead take the time to try and understand those beliefs and, if possible, incorporate them into their own philosophies.

Get a grip Lee Kuan, just because you are using another new name for this post you fool no one. Your rhetoric is the same in all your posts and everyone knows it.

Anita
Anita

First I dont know who Lee Kuan is so you are mistaken that I am him. I am a girl from Chicago. Sedona Cowboy I completely understand and RESPECT your opinion but I dont agree with it. The people in Sedona at this retreat were NOT free thinkers if they allowed JAR to direct them into the wilderness, fasted far beyond their limits than sweated out their lungs to please him. Thats just not free thinking at all. The more I think about it the more I realize that JAR took from them their ability to think for themselves and they allowed it. They laid on the ground playing dead for 3-4 hours while he played God?? Thats free thinking at its weakest form. AND, they paid him $9,600 to do this which is even crazier. Last time I checked getting in touch with sprit was free of charge. What these people were doing was beyond holistic anything. Its more madness. Hey, I believe in the inter-relation of Mind, Body and Spirit but I would NEVER listen to someone telling me to injure my body beyond my limits and laying dead on the floor. I would have told him he was a freak for even asking.

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