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Friday, November 18, 2011

James Arthur Ray was Sentenced Today--Come Inside

Author Camille Kimball the day of James Ray sentencing, where she tweeted. 

After an emotionally exhausting morning of tears, a pounding fist and careful legal explanations, sweat lodge guru James Arthur Ray was sentenced to 3 2-year prison sentences, one each for the deaths of Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman.  However, the sentences will be served concurrently. This means instead of a total of 6 years, it will be 2 years behind bars for Ray. Additionally, there are complicated formulas involving time served etc. which will further reduce the actual prison time.

Self-help guru James Ray after his sentencing over sweat lodge deaths
James Ray during a break just before receiving a prison sentence

After Ray is released from prison, he will then serve a separate period of probation. He is also charged a $20k fine by Judge Darrow. On Thursday (yesterday), defense and prosecution attorneys worked out a $57k restitution assessment. Judge Darrow confirmed that amount, which is in addition to the $20k fine.

After weeping profusely to the court and to the victim's families a few minutes before, Ray did not seem to have a pronounced reaction to the news that he would be taken into a Yavapai County jail. He had his back to the gallery, though. We could not see his face.

Ray was immediately led out of the courtroom by the bailiff. He went out the back door this time and for the first time since this trial began, was all alone, with no attorney at his side. Behind the closed door, Ray was handed over to 2 deputies.  Sometime later, as a few of us, including Proseutor Sheila Polk, were still in the upstairs lobby, Ray was led out by Case Detective Ross Diskin and another armed deputy. Ray had his hands in front of him, and a suit coat thrown over them. Presumably, this jacket was to hide his handcuffs.

The courtroom is a beautiful and historic one,  befitting Prescott's wild west heritage, but the acoustics in the room were very difficult. In the above picture, you can see me in my seat, first row of the gallery slightly oriented to the right behind the defense table. The bailiff placed us closer to the wall because he had kindly provided us an electrical strip so we could all plug in our computers. But even as close as we were, often words were lost, as voices drifted up to the high ceilings and speakers faced away from the gallery.

Ray courtroom, just moments before John Ray had been sitting in front chair to right, brother James in middle chair past rail. 
To my immediate left was the Ray family--Gordon Ray, Joyce Ray and John Ray--the defendant's father, mother and brother, respectively. They all cried as James Ray addressed the court, asked victims for forgiveness, asked the judge for probation, and apologized directly to his own family.  As the Rays waited for Judge Darrow to pronounce sentence, John Ray held Joyce's left hand while she placed her right on her husband's knee, where he kept his own touching hers. Although James Ray looked around as he mad his brief walk across it, none of the Ray family was present in the second floor lobby to see him led out, deputies' hands on him, with his cuffed hands discreetly covered by his jacket.

I put up these photos because the pool cameras were restricted to the back of the room and I know many would like to get a better feel for the setup. Not being a pool photog, my camera couldn't be used until the courtroom had cleared. 


Going to jail, buying documents, and everything else it takes to get this kind of info for the blog takes time and money! 

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  1. my words escape me, Camille. You did a beautiful service being the eyes and ears of those that were not able to attend, actually drawing us into the court room drama over the past week. I am really dismayed at the verdict. They have longer sentences in AZ for animal abuse. It's disgusting the "good ole boy" network in the outlying communities of Phoenix. Unfortunately, the world now has an idea of what Justice is in a small town. Thank you, again.

  2. You are way too generous. I am glad to help. Thank you for writing this here. I do try to paint the picture because the trial is more than the official words. I know many would like to be here but can't. I think it makes it easier to get the context of everything when I can add these kinds of details. I'm so glad you found it useful.

  3. I'm engraving JAR on a big jar of Vaseline and sending it to James for Christmas.

  4. Hi Camille,

    Thank you so much for tweeting and keeping an anxious community updated on the courtroom happenings for this trial.

    I worked for JRI for 2 years and was on the phone with a hysterical Melinda Martin the morning after the tragedy. I quit JRI after I saw that the company was going about as business as usual and not taking into consideration the damage and suffering it was causing. (when supposedly they were committed to healing the same type of pain and suffering.)

    The sentencing was very bittersweet for me... I consider myself a victim of this tragedy also. It took me about 6 months after the event to be able to sleep without dreaming about Kirby, James Shore or Liz's physical experience in the sweat box. (I can't call it a Sweat Lodge because it wasn't.) When Linda Adresano called on the phone to remove herself from the event, I was the one that told her "James Ray would never do anything to harm you." Logically I know that I couldn't have known anything differently. But I kick myself everyday that I didn't respect Linda and her intuition enough to follow her wishes. That my arrogance and ego kicked in and I talked her into attending. She could have ended up dead and I think that she has some long term effects from the event. I some ways I caused that for her and I'm truly sorry to her and to all the participants.

    The thing that struck me so hard while James was giving his statement to the court was that there were people that should have been tried along side of him. Megan wasn't there and she should have been. In my opinion she is as every bit responsible as James for those deaths. I hope she feels that way also and is in her own private prison. Greg Hartle was no where to be seen and he should have been standing along side James.

    I know I'll never be the same...

    Again thank you so much for taking the time and effort to tweet for those of us that really needed to follow and know what was going on in the courtroom. You'll never know how much it helped!

    Warmest Regards,
    Amy Hall

  5. Amy, your post is very introspective and provides insight to those of us outside James Arthur Ray's world and outside the self-help industry itself. I was recently asked during a radio interview why people had gone to Spiritual Warrior, what were they looking for? Your willingness to share your inner thoughts here will help me answer that question in the future. The desire to seek inner enlightenment is an honorable one but also can make people vulnerable, it seems.

    Thank you very much for your kind words to me. I appreciate hearing from you.

    And thanks to all who have dropped by.

  6. Clance- lol. make sure it's organic and petroleum free ;)

  7. Yeea and people who died didn't have brain to think by themeselves and went out of the hot room. Mr. Ray had a gun to kept the people inside the room agains their won. jaja yea

  8. An authority figure told them "You will FEEL like you are dying, but you won't die." He instructed them to push through the feeling. That's what they were trying to do because they believed he knew what he was talking about. At the point they might have realized he was wrong, they would have been too ill to save themselves. Someone who is unconscious or delirious doesn't exactly have "free will."