Disgraced new age guru James Arthur Ray has already been found guilty of negligent homicide for running a pseudo-Indian sweat lodge ceremony that killed Apple Valley's Liz Neuman and two other clients. But there's a possibility he may only face probation for his actions.
An Arizona jury considering his sentence yesterday found that he caused emotional harm to the families of the victims, and violated a unique position of trust with Neuman, but they couldn't agree on other aggravating circumstances - including whether he stood to gain financially by the deaths.[jump]
And their deaths were nightmarish. Along with dozens of other clients, they'd paid Ray about $10,000 each to take part in something he called a "spiritual warrior" retreat near Flagstaff. All had fasted for days and were then crammed into a cramped, superheated tent in which Ray told them they would feel like they were dying.
Three of them did. But the jury's decision yesterday means that means Ray almost certainly won't face a prison term beyond the nine years required by law, and will instead be sentenced to somewhere between probation and nine years instead. The judge could also order him to serve the mandatory three-year sentence for each death concurrently.
What a bargain - for Ray.