Author Topic: James Arthur Ray - Angel Valley Resort DeathSweat in Sedona: 3 dead, 20 injured  (Read 190473 times)

Offline Defend the Sacred

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We have a thread on Adler (aka "Gary Fourstars"), who led the plastic sweat for the cameras and the non-Native group:

Offline Laurel

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Sorry--I need a scorecard to keep up with all these players.

Offline Ric_Richardson

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In the March 14, 2011 issue of Macleans magazine , the issue of Oprah's involvement in a number of self help "gurus" is brought up, in an article entitled "Oprah's so-called experts.

James Ray is one of the people named in the article.

« Last Edit: March 09, 2011, 05:52:31 pm by Ric_Richardson »

Offline AlaskaGrl

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In Session gives more press to Gary Fourstars Sweat Lodge.
March 9, 2011

Video:     "March 9, 2011 Producer's Notebook: Building a Sweat Lodge Shoot"
Video subtitled:   "Sweat Lodge Rituals Uncovered"

I don't see a direct link to the video, it is at the above page.

"""The ground had just begun to turn to mud when we arrived at the Canton, GA, log home. Rain soaked the grass and shoes trampled it, as the participants of the days’ sweat lodge ceremony made preparations. HLN/In Session anchors Ryan Smith, Christi Paul, and Jane Velez-Mitchell were on their way to join the group, and share the experience.

I was there not to participate, but to make sure the shoot went off without a hitch – and there were a few too many unknowns for my liking. My colleague Adam Blank has participated in a sweat lodge ceremony himself, and was the driving force behind our project. But I had only the murkiest idea of how the day would unfold; the answers we received about specifics seemed, to the mind of a producer, pretty vague. There were technical questions too: Would the metal microphone clips burn our anchors’ skin once the heat rose? Would the steam deal a deathblow to our camera before the first frames of footage were even captured? And the mud – there was lots of mud. Someone, surely, would slip and take a spill with expensive equipment in tow.

As we were welcomed, a contagious spirit of anticipation and camaraderie spread. Lupe, the gracious mistress of the house, held out hope for a “donut” – a rain-free spot above her backyard. Gary Adler FourStar, the leader of the ceremony, said the cameras would work if the spirits wanted them to. The fire was built, the lodge was covered, and our veteran cameramen followed along to be the proverbial fly on the wall.

FourStar is of Assiniboine lineage, and the founder of the Many Horses Foundation. He said that rainy morning he’d be denounced by some for allowing filming of the sacred ceremony, and the criticisms have come. FourStar is an insightful guy and doesn’t need my help in defending his decision, nor is it my place to defend it. Native American heritage and tradition, like all other, is a complicated, multi-faceted thing, and reasonable minds can passionately disagree. Our job is to document what we can.

As it turned out, the infrared camera rolled unencumbered by the steam for some 40 minutes inside the hut before our photographer turned it off to allow privacy for the hours that followed. We show only Jane, Christi, and Ryan’s images from this footage, and not the intensely personal moments of others. The group emerged after three hours; some legs didn’t bear up after the physical and spiritual chore. Hugs were exchanged, water bottles drained, and one young couple wandered off to sit among trees surrounding the site.   

As I’m scrubbing my sneakers and Adam is nursing a cold, we are immensely grateful to FourStar and the others for allowing us to attend. The images and insights of Christi, Ryan, and Jane, however controversial, will illustrate the sweat lodge experience and its spiritual purpose in a way even four months of testimony in an Arizona courtroom can not. As we watch the trial of self-help guru James Ray on charges he caused the deaths of three participants in his own version of the ceremony, we know that agendas differ and each lodge is unique. At the end of the day, we, and our viewers, know a little bit more about the world around us.

-Lena Jakobsson, In Session Field Producer """"

press the little black on silver arrow Music, 1) Bob Pietkivitch Buddha Feet

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Well... if CNN and In Session were looking to find out about legitimate Sweat ceremonies, they got pranked.

But if they were looking to understand the experience of the non-Natives who died in Sedona - non-Natives suffering through a confused and confusing heat endurance event with a bunch of other non-Natives in a plastic death tent, run by a non-Native for personal gain - they did get that.

So they probably did gain some understanding of what Ray's victims experienced. But every time they ignorantly claim they now know what "authentic" ceremonies are like... they need to be called on it like we do with anyone else who promotes a dangerous fraud. With his obvious ignorance, his flouting of cultural and ceremonial protocol, and those plastic tarps, maybe the next manslaughter trial they'll be covering will be Gary Adler's.

i just feel sick every time i see/read of a fake inipi. no matter the cause/purpose.

just depressing.
press the little black on silver arrow Music, 1) Bob Pietkivitch Buddha Feet

Offline RunsWithScissorz

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Excellent article today about previous knowledge of Ray's fake training (in several areas):

Think he'll be found guilty?

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Excellent article today about previous knowledge of Ray's fake training (in several areas):

Thanks for this one. It's definitely one of the better, and more thorough recent summations of the many, many problems with Ray.

The author, Bob Ortega, makes the mistake of (mis)using the word "shaman". He over-relied on the self-reporting of other Newagers who have worked with Ray - trusting their outsider assessments of what is "traditional". He could have tried harder to get additional NDN input. But that said, he includes more Native opinions that most reporters have bothered to seek out. And he hits some of the problems with the newage fantasies about NDNs - and how Ray exploited these romantic fantasies - right on the head.

As to whether they'll get a conviction... who knows. Juries are hard to predict, and the pool of people I'm hearing feedback from already has their minds made up, as do I.

Offline Superdog

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Some potentially depressing news.  James Ray's attorneys have filed another motion for mistrial and the way the article is written they may have a shot.  If they're successful he goes free with no chance for a retrial.  Doesn't mean that a civil case can't be brought against him, but I'm hoping the wheels of justice can get over all the curve balls these high priced attorneys are able to throw.

Motion for Mistrial in James Ray Case; Oral Arguments on Wednesday
Written by  Lynne LaMaster

Is it possible a mistrial might be declared in the James Ray case?

It's been 29 long days of testimony in the manslaughter trial of Ray, who was leading a Spiritual Warrior retreat, in the hills between Sedona and Cottonwood, in October, 2009 at the Angel Valley Lodge. The final event of the Spiritual Warrior retreat was a sweat lodge, in which approximately 60 participants and James Ray himself, crowded together for approximately 2 hours. By the time the sweat lodge event was done, Kirby Brown and James Shore had died, and 19 others were transported to nearby hospitals. In the days following the incident, another participant, Liz Neuman, also died.

During those 29 days, testimony has been heard from participants, James Ray, International (JRI) volunteers and staff, medical personnel and Angel Lodge employees. People have come from Canada, California and the eastern United States to testify.

But, now, all that may be for nothing, as Judge Warren Darrow has placed the Ray trial in recess until further notice, after a second defense motion for a mistrial was filed Monday. That motion requested expedited oral argument.

In response, Judge Darrow's order states:


What Led Up To This?

The Prosecution and the Defense have had innumerable legal wrangles and quarrels over the course of the last eight weeks in court, as well as the sixteen months of trial preparation. Each side has accused the other of using language that is unfair and even prejudicial; asking improper questions; witholding evidence that should have been provided to the other party, and much more. Most of the time, Judge Darrow has appeared even-handed and calm, but there have been times when his patience appeared to be stretched to the limit.

There have been three key situations, however, that have the potential for costly remedies, or, under extreme circumstances, a mistrial.
Situation One: The Medical Examiner Meeting

This situation occurred several months before the trial began. In December 2009, the State called the medical examiners together for a meeting to determine cause of death. Afterwards, the State did not reveal this meeting to the Defense, and even went so far as to tell the parties at the meeting that they should not disclose any of the details of this meeting.

The State's reasoning? According to a motion filed by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, "...the State honestly believed and continues to believe [the meeting notes and related information] were non-disclosable work product."

Judge Darrow disagreed, and on September 20, 2010, pdf Motion Regarding Medical Examiner Dec. 2009 meeting  ruled, "As the meeting among the prosecutors, law enforcement representatives, and the expert witnesses apparently was not recorded, the State must disclose any and all notes, regardless of the organizational affiliation of the author, summarizing the medical examiners' oral communications at the meeting... The Court also concludes that... the imposition of monetary sanctions in accordance with Rule 15.7 (a) is appropriate."

To boil the legal jargon down, the Court ruled that the State would have to reimburse the Defense for the costs associated with re-interviewing the medical examiners about this meeting and their findings.

The State complied with the disclosure order. On January 19, 2011, the Defense submitted a pdf bill in the amount of $31,259.43 .

That had the State returning to the Court in a motion dated January 21, 2011, asking for a rpdf econsideration of the impositon of monetary sanctions.  The Defense, of course, pdf, replied in justification   of their perspective,  to which the pdf State responded again.

In his ruling, Judge Darrow wrote, "The Court sustains the State's objection to the statement of costs, and the attorneys for the Defendant are directed to submit a revised statement. The State's motion for reconsideration is denied."

pdf Judge Darrow's Response

At this point, the Defense has not yet apparently submitted a revised statement.
Situation Two: First Mistrial Motion

It was Wednesday morning, April 6, that Judge Darrow agreed with County Attorney Polk that evidence pertaining to previous sweat lodges held by Ray at other Spiritual Warrior events could be admitted as evidence, as long as the evidence had to do with 'causation of death'.

Mark Duncan, reporting for Camp Verde's paper, The Bugle, in an article titled, Witness tells of troubles at three Ray-led sweat lodges, writes, "In a Feb. 3 ruling, Darrow ordered that 'without medical testimony connecting the observations of physical and mental distress exhibited by the pre-2009 sweat lodge participants with a risk of death and without evidence of the defendant's knowledge of the actual type of risk, the evidence is not relevant to the stated purpose.'"

Duncan continued, "Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk argued Wednesday that the medical testimony has taken place and that the alleged suffering of participants in Ray's pre-2009 sweat lodge ceremonies established a pattern she said was inescapable: that when Ray led a sweat lodge at the Angel Valley Retreat Center, people got sick, and that when others did so, no one got sick."

Despite several points of argument from Defense attorneys Tom Kelly and Luis Li, Judge Darrow remained calm and resolute.

The Defense then moved for a mistrial, which the Judge decisively denied the motion.

On April 6, the Defense also filed a 45-page miscellaneous memorandum detailing alleged pdf Prosecutorial misconduct 

As stated in the introduction, "...When prosecutorial misconduct becomes pervasive, however, Arizona law provides that the cumulative effect may require a mistrial... And where the government's misconduct is knowing, prejudicial and taken with 'indifference to a signuficant resulting danger of mistrial or reversal,' the Double Jeopardy clause bars retrial."
Situation Three: Second MIstrial Motion

But it was on Monday, April 11 that the Defense dropped their biggest accusation yet, titled, "Defendant James Arthur Ray's Motion for Mistrial Based on Intentional and Willful Suppression of Exculpatory Evidence, Emergency Hearing Requested".

pdf Mistrial Motion

In that 41-page document, Ray's attorneys insist that a mistrial must be granted and retrial barred.

The Defense writes in it's introduction statement, "The Defense has just learned of a constitutional violation that eclipses all other issues that have been litigated in this trial. For the past eleven months, the State has suppressed material, exculpatory evidence. The evidence - an expert witness report prepared by an environmental scientist at the State's request - identifies a different cause of death and a differeent culpable party than those which the State has alleged throughout this case. This amounts to a severe violation of Brady v. Maryland, Arizona Rule of Criminal Procedure 15.1(b)(8), and Due Process. The trial's entire trajectory has been infected, and the Court and jury misled, because of the suppression. The prejudice to the Defense cannot be cured. Under clearly established law, a mistrial must be granted and retrial barred."

At issue is an April 29. 2010 report from an alleged environmental expert, Richard Haddow. In that report, Haddow offers other explanations regarding the cause of death for Liz Neuman, Sidney Brown and James Shore.

The Defense maintains that the State did not disclose Haddow's opinion or existence until he appeared on a witness list in late October, 2010. Despite several requests for information regarding Haddow, the Defense alleges that those requests were essentially ignored. Had they known the information in the report, they would likely have prepared.

County Attorney Sheila Polk has not had an opportunity to respond yet to the charges, but Judge Darrow has ordered her to do so by 5 PM Tuesday night, April 12. Much is riding on that response, however, Polk has proven her ability to defend her positions over and over again throughout this entire trial.

The seriousness of this latest accusation by the Defense cannot be underestimated. Judge Darrow has responded swiftly and will attempt to determine the facts Wednesday at 8:30 AM, when the attorneys for both sides are ordered to appear in court for oral arguments.

In the meantime, the trial is in recess until further notice. According to a note from Judge Darrow's Judicial Assistant Diane Troxell, sent on Monday, "Please be advised that the James Ray trial will not be held tomorrow, April 12, 2011, due to a pending legal matter. The jurors are being asked to contact the Jury Commissioner at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday for further instructions."

Side note: Imagine having another judge as part of your jury. In a document uploaded to the County's website reads, "The Court has been advised that Superior Court Judge Cele' Hancock has been summoned to appear for jury duty in the matter of State of Arizona vs. James Arthur Ray...

"Good cause appearing therefor, it is ordered excusing Judge Hancock from jury duty..."

pdf Excusing Judge Hancock

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Judge denies mistrial request in sweat lodge case
by Associated Press (April 13th, 2011 @ 2:07pm)

CAMP VERDE, Ariz. - A judge in a self-help author's manslaughter case has refused to declare a mistrial but says prosecutors broke legal rules when they failed to give documents to the defense.

Attorneys for James Arthur Ray urged the mistrial at a hearing Wednesday but Judge Warren Darrow ruled the trial will continue Thursday.

Ray's lawyers contend that the prosecution's yearlong failure to disclose an e-mail from an environmental scientist meant they couldn't adequately prepare a defense.

Ray has pleaded not guilty in the deaths of three people following a 2009 sweat lodge ceremony he led near Sedona.

Prosecutors say they inadvertently failed to turn over the e-mail from Richard Haddow, who looked at the environmental conditions surrounding the ceremony.

Offline nemesis

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That was a bit scary for a moment there!

It would have been devastating if his lawyers had managed to swing a mistrial and he had walked due to a technicality.

*breathes sigh of relief*

Offline Edge

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Thank heavens! I feared he'd walk free. My hat's off to the judge.

Offline AnnOminous

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The following article can be located at the link below:
Sweat Lodge Trial Update: Judge prohibits quick not guilty verdict in manslaughter case against James Arthur Ray
June 7, 2011 4:53 PM
Posted by Barry Leibowitz
(CBS/AP) CAMP VERDE, Ariz. (AP) - An Arizona judge has denied yet another bid by attorneys for self-help guru James Arthur Ray to cut his manslaughter trial short and issue a not guilty verdict.
Ray's attorneys had asked Judge Warren Darrow for such a directed verdict in the deaths of three people who attended Ray's spiritual retreat near Sedona in October 2009.
Darrow heard arguments on the request Tuesday but did not grant it.
Ray's attorneys argued that prosecutors hadn't proved their case and that Ray had no legal duty to check on participants during the sweat lodge ceremony.
Prosecutors claimed they clearly had proved that Ray was guilty. They say Ray conditioned participants through breathing exercises, sleep deprivation, a 36-hour fast and lectures to ignore their bodies' signs of danger.
Darrow's ruling means jurors will return to hear from defense witnesses in the case.
Ray was presiding over a sweat lodge ceremony that led to the deaths of Kirby Brown, Liz Neuman and James Shore.
Ray's attorneys say he did not have a legal duty to check on participants during the ceremony, that he was unaware people could die and that participants could have left at any time. They've also devoted a lot of time to arguing that toxins could have contributed to the deaths.
"There is no evidence that Mr. Ray knew the three individuals were dying," the defense wrote in the motion for a directed verdict. "Ms. Brown, Mr. Shore and Ms. Neuman were all breathing, talking with participants around them, specifically telling others they were `OK' or `fine' and moving until the end of the ceremony."
Prosecutors called about three dozen witnesses - less than half on their list - as they argued that Ray recklessly caused the deaths.
Motions for a directed verdict are typical in criminal cases, but Loyola Law School professor Stan Goldman said they are rarely granted even if there's a basis for them.
"Usually the judge wants to wait for what the jury has to say," he said.
More than 50 people participated in the sweat lodge ceremony that was the culmination of Ray's weeklong "Spiritual Warrior" seminar he held at the Angel Valley Retreat Center.

Offline LittleOldMan

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wonder how long this will last? LOM
Blind unfocused anger is unproductive and can get you hurt.  Controlled and focused anger directed tactically wins wars. Remember the sheath is not the sword.