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James Arthur Ray

November 19, 2011 by staff 

James Arthur Ray, Self-help entrepreneur James Arthur Ray was sentenced Friday to two years in prison for the deaths of three people at a sweat-lodge ceremony he led near Sedona, punishment years less than what relatives of the victims had hoped for.

Ray received a two-year term for each of the deaths of Kirby Brown, 38; James Shore, 40; and Liz Neuman, 49, but Yavapai Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow issued concurrent rather than consecutive sentences. He also ordered Ray to pay $57,000 in restitution to the families of the three victims.

“Justice doesn’t feel like it’s been served,” said Andrea Puckett, Neuman’s daughter. She and other family members of Brown, Shore and Neuman said they had hoped to see Ray serve the maximum sentence he could have received on the three convictions of negligent homicide, which was nine years.

“Hopefully, it will be long enough for him to recognize all the damage and pain that could have been prevented had he paid attention to their pleas for help,” said Jane Shore Gripp, Shore’s mother.

The families’ disappointment was echoed by American Indian activists upset about what they view as Ray’s appropriation and misuse of the sweat-lodge ceremony, which they see as sacred.

“Now, he’s a convicted felon; let the word go out to others,” said Marvin Youngdog, a Lakota elder who traveled from Pine Ridge, S.D., to watch the sentencing.

Ray, while being led away, declined to comment after the verdict. But his attorneys, who had asked for probation, said they will appeal both the sentence and his conviction.

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