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Ray defense wants evidence excluded
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 14 July 2010 08:00

Defense attorneys for James Arthur Ray, the self-help author and motivational speaker charged with manslaughter, are requesting the Yavapai County Superior Court consider autopsy photos and other information as inadmissible evidence when the case goes to trial in late August.

James Arthur RayRay, 52, is charged with three counts of manslaughter stemming from the October sweat lodge incident that claimed three lives and injured several others at the Angel Valley Retreat Center southwest of Sedona.

Lizbeth Neuman, 49, of Michigan, Kirby Brown, 38, of New York, and James Shore, 40, of Wisconsin, died after exposure to conditions inside the sweat lodge, a large tent-like structure that was heated to
sauna-like temperatures.

In motions filed with the court, attorneys Brad Brian, Luis Li, Truc Do and Thomas Kelly are asking for the judge to exclude autopsy photos and information about Ray’s financial status and business dealings from being presented to a jury, as well as any information about a previous sweat lodge event five years ago where a man reportedly fainted.

The defense team argues the photos, financial information and earlier events have no bearing on the current case and would only serve to “confuse jurors” and “generate prejudice against Mr. Ray.”

The autopsy photos show nothing relevant to the cause of death, the motion states, a claim the defense backs up with an interview with one of the doctors involved with performing the autopsies.

Showing the photos would only “inflame the jury,” the motion argues.

Similarly, the defense believes that Ray’s financial status and business dealing have no bearing on this particular case.
The defense is also hoping to have the trial moved to another location outside the Verde Valley, but the prosecution is objecting because the defense submitted more paperwork than the rules of the court allow.

Kelly argued changing the location may provide more room for what he expects to be a heavily attended and publicized trial.

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk had earlier told the court the state has no objections to the idea of moving the trial, since neither Ray nor the victims have any ties to the area.

The trial is set to begin Tuesday, Aug. 31, in front of Judge Warren Darrow.

 

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