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Thursday, June 16, 2011

"Nobody was really a ninja"

Pulling open the courtroom door into the sweat lodge trial as a break came to a close, I sensed someone suddenly behind me. It was James Arthur Ray following me in. Gotta admit, I'm not accustomed to defendants who can wander into and out of hallways without even an escort of lawyers, let alone jailers.

James Ray's lead defense attorney, Luis Li, took most of the time today, which isn't to say prosecutor Sheila Polk didn't take the first couple hours off the top of the morning.

In response to Polk, Luis Li told the jurors that James Ray did not bully the people at the seminar and certainly did not "mass hypnotize" them. So what if the jurors heard James Ray on tape at the Angel Valley seminar saying "I am Alpha and Omega?" and that he played God in the Samurai game and told them to die, leaving them to lie still on concrete for many hours without bathroom breaks?

"People quote the bible all the time. No one actually thought he was God. Nobody was really a ninja, samurai or angel of death."

Sheila Polk told the jury that the infamous waivers signed by followers at Angel Valley proved that Ray knew the activities in store could injure or kill them. But she pointed out, while the people may have signed the slips of paper, most of them had no idea what activities were planned and were given no chance to prepare for them.

Li argued the waivers proved that the participants knew the risks and that Mr. Ray did not. He said it was their own responsibility to assess the risks. He passionately condemned Polk for putting up photos of the three victims, Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman, for what he had apparently timed out as eleven minutes. I think I won't be going out too far on a limb if I guess that the quietly sniffling loved ones in the front bench didn't think eleven minutes was too long to see the faces of Kirby, James and Liz.

The arguments went on for hours and hours, I can't put it all in here. But let's say at the end of the day, Li's comments were more about the law and Polk's a little more on stringing the facts and timeline together.

Friday, there are several more hours of closing arguments to go.

Here's a link to an excellent little tidbit piece from the Star. The reporter is still receiving sales pitches from James Ray and the ad copy is, as the reporter says, a bit shocking.

Camille Kimball's books are:
What She Always Wanted
A Sudden Shot
The Mammoth Book of Tough Guys

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