CAMP VERDE, Ariz. - Several family members and friends of victims who died in the October 2009 Sedona sweat lodge ceremony were in court Wednesday as the jury found the ceremony's leader, James Arthur Ray, guilty of negligent homicide.
He was acquitted on the greater charge of manslaughter. Still Randy Neuman, who's wife Liz was one of three people to die in the sweat lodge, said he was satisfied. "I spoke with my three children and we're very happy with the verdict. We think justice has been served," said Neuman.
A friend of another victim, Kirby Brown, echoed Neuman's sentiments. "I'm just glad to see the sordid truth held up. I'm happy with the outcome," said Mika Brown.
News of the verdict traveled quickly through the town of Camp Verde, where residents have been closely watching this trial, one of the biggest there in a long time.
"It's definitely been the buzz around town," one man said.
"I would have preferred he had gotten the manslaughter charge," said Bonnie Joslin, who said she hopes others learn from this and are safe when they participate in rituals like a sweat lodge.
James Ray and his attorneys left the court through a back door to avoid television cameras.
Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said she could not comment on the verdict until after sentencing.
All parties are due back in Yavapai County court on Tuesday.