Mar 1, 2011

The James Arthur Ray Trial Begins

Opening arguments will be presented today, as James Arthur Ray is finally tried for the deaths of three people in a sweat lodge ceremony gone horribly wrong.

He told them it was a good day to die so they could be born again.

"You're not going to die," self-help author and speaker James Arthur Ray told participants in the sweat lodge that day, they later recalled. "You may think you are, but you're not going to die ... You need to surrender to death to survive it."

The sweat lodge ceremony, the culmination of a five-day retreat in Sedona, Arizona, was meant to be a "rebirthing." But by the end of that day, October 8, 2009, two people had died. A third died nine days later, and -- authorities allege -- at least 15 others fell ill.

Ray, 53, is charged with three counts of reckless manslaughter in the deaths and could face up to 10 years in prison on each if convicted. Opening statements are set to begin in his trial Tuesday.

And it looks like the trial will be televised. TruTV (formerly Court TV) was granted permission to film the proceedings. You know what that means: I'll be front and center... with popcorn!!

Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow granted the request by In Session, formerly known as CourtV, to televise James Arthur Ray's trial. Ray has pleaded not guilty to the three manslaughter charges stemming from the deaths near Sedona in October 2009.

Darrow has allowed one still and one video camera in previous hearings, but had not addressed live coverage before Friday.

In Session's request said the live coverage would advance Arizona's tradition of courtroom access. Prohibiting it would be akin to telling the media when it can publish information, attorney David Bodney said.

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