James Ray Trial: Pre-sentence Hearing Nov 2011November 10, 2011
Update: This post covers the last part of the pre-sentence hearing. For some extra details on his two year sentence, follow this link.
Those following this case will recall that Ray managed to avoid a police investigation into the death of Colleen Conaway during a seminar, when he and his staff lied to police and fabricated evidence. He never bothered calling Colleen’s family, but swiftly called his lawyers instead. Two and a half months later Ray had to call his lawyers again during an event, after cooking several people to death in a bogus sweat lodge ceremony. He told police that the fire keeper was in charge of the lodge, a ruse which failed to shake investigators, but which set the tone for his subsequent defense.
Ray’s attorneys have attempted to pull every trick in the book to help Ray avoid justice, and while they managed to get enough evidence excluded from trial to save Ray from being convicted of manslaughter, he is still facing a maximum sentence of nine years for three counts of negligent homicide. He may also be let off with probation.
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10 Nov 2011 Ray’s defense team, after attempting to get masses of factual evidence about Ray’s behavior and business practices excluded from the trial due to its “prejudicial” nature, are now claiming that Ray is of impeccable character and poses no threat to the public. A couple of dozen of his fellow scammers will be testifying as character witnesses next week. The defense is also attempting to play for sympathy. Ray’s mother has cancer, and they claim he must stay out of prison to care for her. The 56 year old “harmonic wealth” teacher has moved back in with his parents.
Ray, who can cry on cue, shed tears as his mother’s cancer was mentioned in court. Ray shed no tears as half a dozen of his students lay in the mud in severe medical distress or receiving CPR. Instead he left the scene to have a shower, where the police eventually found him, sitting in his undies, munching on a sandwich. Two of his students were already dead. Later that night, Ray would send his a message to his email list declaring his event a “success, despite some people having taken ill”.
The defense claims Ray has shown remorse (which he hasn’t), but also claims that doubt remains over his guilt. Doublethink was always essential for anyone wishing to understand Ray’s teachings.
Anyway, next week a bunch of psychopaths like Bob Procter (scammer from The Secret) will be trying to get Ray set loose on society again, no doubt crowing about how much he learned from this experience.
This week is given over to prosecution witnesses.
Ray, according to Bivins, was not the owner of Life Results, but did control its finances. So when Ray told her he had taken the money from Life Results to pay the mortgage on his Beverly Hills home rather than paying the salespeople their full commission, she saw the light of his true character.
….”He has lied about his credentials and he continues to lie about his credentials,” Bivins said. “He has not admitted the truth yet about who he is.”
The prosecution is also taking the opportunity to describe the way Ray had been escalating the amount of danger he placed his students in, without attending to safety. Here is an earlier account of Ray’s behavior in this regard.
There are often updates on twitter, under #JamesRay.
11 Nov 2011 Powerful testimony from the bereaved:
Collins said that Ray “ignored myriad opportunities to learn from his mistakes,” and that “incarceration appears to us to be perhaps the only instructor Mr. Ray is likely to heed.”
Mrs. Shore is James’ mother, and her quiet words carried the weight of untimely loss.
She spoke of how her son, seeing that Ray had no intention of helping those who were in distress in the sweat lodge, took matters into his own hands, removing one woman from the tent before returning to Kirby Brown’s side at the back of the lodge, where the two were found, lifeless, after the ceremony.
“My son Jimmy had a lot of dreams,” Mrs. Shore said, adding that she believed Ray to be arrogant and consumed with power and pride before asking Darrow to “please give the maximum penalty of nine years, which is clearly not enough.”
Puckett said she was most upset by the fact that her mother was identified as a Jane Doe in the Flagstaff hospital, and that neither Ray nor any of his staff made the effort to notify her and her family, or any of the other families, of what had happened.
“Nine years doesn’t nearly serve enough justice for the lives that were lost,” Puckett said.
Speaking directly to Ray, she said he should know “how disappointed and disgusted my mom would have been at the way you treated her.
“She called you a friend and you left her there to die.”
It was also noted that: “Ray stood as Collins and the others spoke, apparently moved by their words.” The important word to note there is “apparently”. From Ray’s actions it is clear that he is a deeply disturbed individual – psychopathy seems to be one of the prerequisites for success in his line of work. (In fact the psychopath checklist reads pretty much like the world view promoted by The Secret and the “law of attraction“.) I doubt Ray has suddenly grown a conscience. Defense documents state that he has “expressed remorse”, but the same document refuses to accept his guilt. Remorse for what, then?
Next week, a string of other professional psychopaths will be testifying in Ray’s favor, and the defensed will be setting out the reasons why they think Ray should be given probation. One of their arguments is that he has “no prior convictions”. That is true, but it has more to do with his and his staff’s ability to deceive police. Ray should have been tried for negligent manslaughter in relation to the death of Colleen Conaway, two and a half months before he caused three more deaths.
Had the San Diego police investigated Ray properly, further deaths may have been prevented. Time will tell whether or not Judge Darrow will give Ray the benefit of the doubt — like the San Diego police did, or whether he will follow the admirable lead of the state prosecutors rule in the interests of the public. (Sadly, the interests of justice can no longer be served since the jury — missing vital excluded evidence — gave ray the benefit of the doubt and failed to convict him of manslaughter.)
12 Nov 2011 Here are some details on James Ray’s “spotless record”, listing the law suits filed against him, among other things. Also see the author’s recent post reflecting on Ray’s tear jerking story of needing to care for his sick parents, in the light of her one and only meeting with Ray.
LaVaughn has also pieced together some details of the week’s proceedings from various sources.
14 Nov 2011 Over at “Psychopath Central”, Salty Droid also has some background details of Ray’s business wheeling and stealing.
“Twinkie Wrangler” takes a penetrating look at the defense’s strategies and motivations, especially noting the corporate ideology behind the concept of Ray as a “productive” member of society.
Did his “good moral character” drive him to aspire to be the first new Age billionaire?
If you call posing with the locals in Peru to try to prove you have some spiritual connection to them and having the World Wide Wealth Society pay you thousands of dollars do a few token projects while engaging in spiritual tourism good works. I certainly don’t. I call it exploitation.
The [defense] memorandum also claims that the aggravating factors are not “legitimate” and ignores the victim impact statements. The dream team seems to be as callous and insensitive to the survivors’ pain as James Ray is himself….The one thing that convinces me that this is all about the money is that the thing one that seems to irk the dream team the most is the state’s request for restitution. The state of Arizona is seeking restitution to victims $67.255.31 and $67,775.84 for costs of prosecution.
16 Nov 2011 Live updates from the courtroom from Camille Kimball on twitter, now using #jray as well as #JamesRay for discussion.
17 Nov 2011 Ray will be sentenced tomorrow (18th) between 9 and 11 am. This week has seen more tears shed and more weeping and wailing than over the entire nine months of the trial to date, it seems. In itself, that might not be so unexpected in a trial involving three or four deaths, children left fatherless, etc, but what is a bit unexpected is that it was the defense witnesses and the convicted killer himself who were turning on the waterworks. Ray, the man who caused four deaths for profit and fun, who ruthlessly tried to cover up his involvement in each case, who let four of his paying students be admitted to hospital (or the morgue) as Jane or John Doe, who sat in the shade while people were dead or dying, etc, etc, etc, — all without shedding a tear, suddenly starts blubbing when it seems he may face (a drastically watered down) prison sentence. Of course, if the jury had have known about Colleen Conaway’s death and other details from sweat lodges, Ray would have been found guilty of manslaughter and faced 39 years in jail. Instead, nine is the maximum sentence, and personally I doubt highly that he will receive anything like that. Probation is a possibility.
I haven’t been able to keep up with what’s been going on much this week, due to work commitments and coz it just makes me puke reading this bullshit. But here are a couple of articles on the witnesses this week.
And here is a court document which includes a letter to the judge from the sister of James Shore, the man who died trying to save the life of another Ray victim.
And here is a brief comment (posted on the Salty Droid blog) by the sister of Colleen Conaway. I’ll post part of it here. I guess that’s a fitting way to conclude the nine months of coverage of this trial.
Ray left her family trying to come to terms with a “suicide”, instead of what it really was – negligent homicide. PR problem avoided. By the time they’d begun to realize the depth of the evil that had been done to Colleen and to them, Ray was already on his way to causing three more deaths. I can’t begin to imagine how they must have felt when they heard of it. She writes:
…The first year after Colleen’s death I was going through a living H_LL trying to piece together what happened to her. I believe this would have been extremely difficult but because she was my sister I found myself on the verge of insanity most days. If it were not for some very dear people who I have come to treasure as dear friends, I do not know that I would have made it through this. With each new thread of evidence we uncovered I became more and more sick to my stomach. Up until this happened to Colleen I never wanted to believe there were people such as James Ray in the world. To think that he was the last person my sister encountered here on this earth…and he did everything in his power to cover up her death…leaves a whole in my heart that will never mend. My only hope and prayer is that by exposing him we will prevent another loss of life and another family from going through this…