James Ray breaks down in courtPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX - Self-help author James Arthur Ray addressed the judge briefly, and wept while his mother testified in his sentencing hearing Thursday.
It's been more than two years since Ray led a deadly sweat lodge ceremony in Sedona. A jury found him guilty of three counts of negligent homicide in June, following a four month trial.
Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow will determine James Arthur Ray's fate Friday after listening to six days of testimony in a mitigation hearing. The sentencing comes more than two years after Ray led dozens of people in the ceremony near Sedona with a promise that they would experience breakthroughs in their lives.
Ray himself apologized to the families of James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee; Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y; and Liz Neuman, 48, of Prior Lake, Minn. Ray choked up as he waived his right to a restitution hearing and agreed to pay more than $57,000 to the families to reimburse them for costs associated with the trial.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said. "I don't believe any amount of money can compensate the families for their loss."
Polk questioned Ray's remorse, saying his actions didn't match up with his words. What kind of man disregards human life, ignores cries for help, fails to check on those in distress, and leaves a scene of death and sickness to shower and eat, she asked.
But Ray's mother, Joyce, said her son was devastated and wanted to help but followed legal advice not to immediately contact the victims' families or send them letters as she suggested. She said the response ran contrary to his character.
"For them to have lost their lives is sad, so sad, and we're so sorry," she said to the families in the courtroom before returning to her seat near Brown's parents.
Ray could be let go on probation, or sentenced to up to nine years for his conviction.