crimesider

Sweat Lodge Update: Jury Selection Begins in Manslaughter Trial of James Arthur Ray

James Arthur Ray - photo provided by James Ray International (JRI) Investigators look over a "sweat lodge" on the grounds of Angel Valley Retreat Center, near Sedona, Ariz. Two people died and 19 others were taken to hospitals after being overcome while sitting in the sauna-like sweat lodge during a Sedona spiritual retreat, authorities said Friday.
JamesRay.com
James Arthur Ray - photo provided by James Ray International (JRI)
James Arthur Ray
JamesRay.com

(CBS/AP) Sixteen months after three people died at an Arizona sweat lodge retreat, jury selection is under way in the trial of James Arthur Ray, the motivational speaker and self-styled spiritual guru accused of manslaughter in the case.

Ray has pleaded not guilty to three counts of manslaughter, stemming from the two-hour ceremony he led near Sedona in October 2009, that ended in the deaths of Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y., James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee, and Liz Neuman, 49, of Prior Lake, Minn.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys have spent the past few weeks narrowing the list of potential jurors.

Prosecutors contend Ray recklessly crammed more than 50 people inside a sweltering sweat lodge and admonished them for wanting to leave.

Ray's attorneys say the deaths were a tragic accident and he is not to blame.

Opening statements are set for March 1 in Camp Verde, Ariz.

The judge overseeing the case says he'll see if an impartial jury can be seated before ruling on a change of venue motion.

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF ARIZONA SWEAT LODGE CASE ON CRIMESIDER