Posted by: twinkiewrangler | June 16, 2011

Closing Arguments in Arizona v. James Arthur Ray

Closing Arguments for

Arizona v. James Ray

June 15, 2011

Closing arguments began this afternoon in the James Arthur Ray sweat lodge trial. Ms. Polk was magnificent. She started out with this forceful statement:

“Three people are dead who should not be dead.

Three people have lost loved ones who should not be gone.”

Ms. Polk then walked over to the defense table and pointed at James Arthur Ray and told the jury how he intentionally used what she termed “hellacious” heat to create what he believed “altered state” which he could market to his unfortunate victims.

Here are some of the highlights of today’s arguments:


Ms. Polk: Mr. Ray intentionally used heat to create an altered state.

They are dead because James Ray consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that his conduct would cause death.

(Pointing at James Ray) The only difference between manslaughter and negligent homicide is the issue of awareness.

The defendant’s sweat lodge consisted of crowding approximately 56 people together in that enclosed tight space for more than 2 hours. Participants sat shoulder to shoulder with no room at all.

You heard the defendant tell those participants how he was going to pack them in.

Take a look at the cars, you can see how small that lodge is in relation to them.

James Ray audio clip: “Stand up make one full rotation around the lodge and you’ll stop.

Invariably what starts to happen think you’re gonna think you have much more room than you really do. If you have touch-a-phobia, you’re going to have to get over it everybody butted up against everybody else…Once the back wall is full all the way around you’ve got to go forward.”

Ms. Polk: The Defendant did in fact wear participants down. In his own words to get them less grounded so they could have that ultimate experience.

James Ray did in fact wear participants down. In his words. to get them less grounded so they could have that ultimate experience. He intentionally wore them down so they would be less grounded so they could have an “altered experience.”

James Ray audio clip: “You can have altered states, states are temporary. I’m not a vegetarian.  I don’t advocate it particularly when you do a lot of energy work you need to be very grounded. However, I don’t want you grounded here I want you off balance. Balance is bogus anyway. That way you can push your threshold and you open up your greater opportunities.

Ms. Polk: You hear witnesses tell you time after time that participants entered that tent tired, hungry, physically weak and fully conditioned to follow James Ray’s instructions.

You heard Laurie Gennari tell you that by the end of the week they were all used to getting an order and doing it. We were well trained by the end of the week.

James Ray audio clip: (chastising participant) “You’ve played around for way to long now. You haven’t played full on yet. You’re more out of the room then in it. You don’t’ show up for yoga. That’s a pattern. You’re not seeing things through. If you want to be successful in your life, then you need to dig in here. If you play half assed here you’re playing half assed in other areas of your life.”

Ms. Polk: He taught them to ignore their own instincts to reach out and help somebody in distress.

You heard a witness tell you that if not for James Ray‘s temper, he might have helped people.

You heard Beverly Bunn say “You learn throughout the course of the week that you don’t question Mr. Ray on anything.”

You heard Dennis Mehraver say when asked if he would help someone in distress “I probably would wait until the round was over I wouldn’t have stopped the ceremony.”

They all believed that if something happened that they would be taken care of.

Stephen Ray passed out dragged out helicoptered up to flagstaff. His trust in Mr. Ray was the only thing that lead him to believe he could survive the rigorous of the sweat lodge.

You heard him testify of how much control the defendant had over everything and that he wouldn’t let anyone get hurt.

James Ray intended that intense searing heat in order to obtain a financial investment from the participants of $10,000 to achieve a break through exactly what defendant marketed to the participants.

Many participants were unable to leave by reason of their altered mental status which is the hallmark of heatstroke.

You heard Linda Andresano, the nurse for Tucson, say “I thought this was an honorable way to die… If I had been thinking professionally, I never would have stayed.”

You heard Scott Barratt say the defendant yelled like a drill Sargent and that those words affected his ability to leave. He repeated those words to himself to survive the heat challenge.

As they James Shore said to Sean Ronan – James Shore was really looking forward to lodge sitting up in front always had a fear of doing that so this was going to be a chance for him to break

Kirby Brown audio clip: “I sang the song rain, rain go away and there it was the rainbow. this power piece that I brought here. It was an old piece that was given to me when I was in 3rd grade. An old Scottish kilt pin for my grandmother’s. It wasn’t that she was so big in my life that was one of my pieces that I had to bring…

“I was like yeah I’m going to be the hero but then I died so quickly.”

“I puked and I swallowed it down underneath there underneath the blanket”

“I realized that the dead are there with us.”

As I laid there dying so I didn’t kill other people.”

“Out in my beautiful medicine wheel I hadn’t done much meditation at one point I needed to meditate and I did and a powerful figure came to me brother Leo Kirby my grandfather’s brother a very powerful priest always my person that I would go to ask for advice he appeared and I missed him this was nothing in my writing he came to me and I just said wow thanks for coming here. He said I have three words for you keep things simple that’s the same thing he said to me,

“understand that our loved ones are here with us now”

Ms. Polk: So determined was Kirby Brown to learn what Mr. Ray had to teach that for 5 hours during that samurai game she laid there without moving.

Mr. Ray knew that.

You heard Sean Ronan testify that, “Mr. Ray knows what I can accomplish better than I know myself.”

The defendant wants you to believe this is merely a corporate event that he just shows up for.

Who is the president? James Ray.

Who is the Secretary? James Ray.

Who is the treasurer of JRI? It’s James Ray.

Who is the director of JRI? It’s James Ray.

Who signed this annual filing but the defendant? James Ray.

There is not a question that the defendant’s conduct caused the death and there is no question that Mr. Ray controlled every single aspect of that heat endurance challenge.

The defendant controlled how much heat could escape, how much fresh air come in.

He controlled when people could talk in the sweat lodge and he even controlled when people could urinate.

He intended to use the heat to create this altered mental status in order to give the participants something extreme to think that they got their money’s worth.

He intended to take the participants up to death so that they could have a near death experience.

When one of the participants told the defendant that he died, James Ray said, “You were reborn so go take a shower and get cleaned up.”

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you don’t have to agree that it was hypothermia.

What you do have to agree beyond a reasonable doubt is that the defendant conduct caused the deaths.

Dr. Dickson reviewed all the medical records unequivocally testified that all the victims died of heat stroke.

Dr. Mosley determined cause of death to be heat stroke for Kirby Brown and James Shore and Liz Neuman, multi-system organ failure due to prolonged sweat lodge exposure.

All the doctors were aggressively cross examined, but all maintained original conclusions that heat caused the deaths.

Hypothetical questions were asked the witness to ignore the actual evidence and assume that something else was the cause. You must look at the evidence

The defendant wants you to freeze your knowledge in time to what the first responders knew that night.

The defendant chose to ignore those who lay unconscious

You are not in positionof first responders making their best efforts to figure out what happened.

The State has clearly proven that BUT FOR the defendant’s conduct, Kirby, James and Liz would not have died.

The defendant’s conduct in its natural and continuous sequence caused their deaths.

The state must prove superceding intervening event did not cause the deaths

What is some intervening event?

Is there some event outside of Mr. Ray’s control that caused the death?

If a boulder rolls on lodge and kills three people that wouldn’t be Mr. Ray’s fault.

If you find some unforeseeable event like a boulder rolling down and hitting the tent then you must find the defendant not guilty.

If you find that BUT for the defendant’s conduct the victims would not have died. then you must find d Mr. Ray guilty.

This issue of supervening event – this is where the hours and hours of testimony and cross examination comes in.

The defendant wants you to believe that something other than exposure to searing heat caused the deaths.

The list of possible causes of death reads a bit like a take-out menu from an expensive diner.

And It’s baloney it’s all baloney.

The right wood, the wrong wood, wood with nails, wood without nails … free will, victims chose to stay in tent, Rotillo, the landscaper, on his own purchased deadly toxins with his own money and sprayed them around. The Mercer’s built the sweat lodge wrong.

And of course the very short lived other caused offense that Ted was the one running the sweat lodge.

It’s ridiculous. The defendant wants you to ignore what is right in front of your eyes.

Signs of distress all around people seriously suffering he acknowledges but continues to add more rocks more water.

The defendant wants you to ignore problems in past events.

There were no problems in same structure when someone other than Mr. Ray facilitated a sweat lodge.

The defendant wants you to ignore a waiver that essential acknowledges that the way Mr. Ray does a sweat lodge is dangerous.

Organophosphates or something that coincidentally could only be tested for within a few days of exposure.

They would have come up with some other substance plutonium for instance that we didn’t test for.

Dr. Dickson works in ER in Yuma farming community where pesticides used and one of the hottest places in state of Arizona treats 20 live patients a year suffering from heat stroke.

He treated border agents who were directly sprayed by some pesticides and they didn’t die.

Dr. Paul never performed an autopsy on patients with organophosphate poisoning.

Dr. Paul who was asked point blank what is the lethal dose of an organophosphate that would be needed in this case

What would it be?

Dr. Paul’s answer was that he has not done any research in that area.

That would be beyond his area of expertise.

Dr. Paul admits he is not aware of any case where sitting on an organophosphate caused death why some people face down got sick and others did not why some people face up got sick and others did not

The problem with that theory is that there is not pattern of who got sick and who does not.

Mark Rock was face down.

Dawn Gordon was face up.

Kirby Brown was face up.

James Shore started out close to pit face down moved back side up tending and helping others.

Liz Neuman – both faced each other leaned back on Laura Tucker and Laurie Gennari.

Stephen Ray was covering mouth and nose with his hand and shirt.

Beverly Bunn was sitting up and still got sick.

Sean Ronan was sitting, laying on back, and then moved to stomach.

Linda Andresano was dragged out after ceremony was over and started out in the back sitting up.

Melissa Phillips was face down and not sick.

Laura Tucker was on her side and not sick.

Kim Brinkley was ace down.

Expert opinion testimony is judged as any other testimony. You are not bound by it. Give it as much credibility & weight as you think it deserves.

I suggest to you that the expert opinion of Dr. Paul had no credibility whatsoever.

Dr. Paul agreed all patients suffered from heat exhaustion.

The body will cool 11 degrees in an hour with aggressive cooling such as an ice bath.

Dr. Paul refused to talk about how much cooling you would do at ambient air temp 70 degrees in Sedona.

The body would have cooled about 2 degrees every 10 minutes or 12 degrees in an hour.

The defense talked a lot of Pneumonics, You heard testimony that if signs and symptoms fit in a box it points you in right direction, but you don’t just pick & chose a few have to make them all fit.

You can’t just pick out random signs and symptoms to fit your theory.

You can’t just look at a few signs and symptoms and conclude that there is reasonable doubt in that case.

You must look at the big picture.

Of those signs and symptoms, none of them fit neatly in that box to point you towards organophosphate poisoning.

Mr. Hughes had Dr. Paul write down signs and symptoms that support organophosphate poisoning and he wrote down ONLY signs and symptoms that support his theory and left out some of them.

In the official position paper that addresses determining causes for heat related deaths, one of the criteria looks at the circumstances.

Never once did Dr. Paul write down circumstances surrounding the victim’s deaths. That is so glaring.

That’s what the defendant wants you to ignore they want you to ignore what is right in front of your eyes as the cause of death.

It’s that superheated tight enclosed space for over 2 hours where they were subjected by Mr. Ray to searing heat and searing humidity.

Dehydration is not a necessary component.

A well hydrated person can die in a hot car in Phoenix.

Mr. Hughes said show me the literature where it says that and Dr. Paul couldn’t find it.

In exertional heat stroke (EHS) dehydration is not a necessary criteria. Dr. Paul testified that in Non-exertional heat stroke (NEHS) you have to have dehydration, but his profession does not support that.

Mr. Li wrote on the board that you have to have dehydration and elevated temperature, but that’s not true.

The only doctor who says you have to have dehydration for heat stroke is the defense’s doctor, Dr. Paul.

What are those pneumonics about? SLUDGE?





GI upset

Emesis sweating

All of these signs and symptoms are about fluids pouring out of your body.

Organophosphate poisoning is diagnosable. It’s not mistaken for heat stroke. It’s about fluids pouring from every possible orifice.

You drown in your own fluids.

Two completely different symptoms in your patients.

A few of the symptoms for heat stroke may overlap with symptoms for organophosphate poisoning. Not a single victim died from drowning in their own spit.

None of the doctors have ever seen a patient die of organophosphate poisoning.

The unidentified EMT said, “We’re not sure exactly why. “We don’t really know maybe carbon monoxide, maybe with some organophosphate mixed in with it. So we’ll look into it.”

The State has proven that the Hamiltons used very few chemicals on their property.

There was no pressure treated wood, pesticides, mysterious rat poisons and no organophosphates.

Use your common sense.

When I smell pesticides I smell them everywhere. Why has been nobody smelled anything unusual?

Debbie Mercer said she never smelled anything unusual.

Sargent Barbet didn’t smell anything.

Detective Diskin didn’t smell any odors.

Dr. Paul testified that some patients will have a very distinct garlic like smell not present in this case at all.

The Defense has taken one symptom from that toxidrome and built a house of cards hoping that you won’t notice.

Let’s Run it down:

Rat poison: Just One Bite … – none of these contain organophosphate all they cause rat to die by causing it to bleed to death.

Andro ant killer does not contain organophosphates.

Andro was not even used until June 2010.

In 10  years, Dr. Dickson had never seen patient who ingested Andro.

Rocks tarps, d logs and pole from sweat lodge structure were all seized and sampled and sent off to the lab.

The toxin could not have been airborne exposure would have had to have been through direct contact.

Rocks, wood ,coverings poles were all tested.

Samples were heated to 50 C / 122 F and the lab found nothing except trace amounts of 2 EH in one tarp piece.

2EH is a solvent to help form plastics – coverings contain vinyl

Heated for 8 hours to 122 degrees

Are we supposed to believe that pesticides were only sprayed in area where those who fell ill lay?

This theory requires you to completely suspend your common sense and ignore the evidence.

We all get exposed to chemicals to pesticides on a regular basis without anyone dying.

2 EH is even added to food.

Alpha turpinial in the wood is found in pine oils and is harmful if swallowed, but no one swallowed anything around the wood.

If there were toxic substances in wood smoke, you would expect those exposed to fire to suffer the most and that wasn’t the case. None of them suffered any ill effects from the smoke.

When samples were heated to 203 degrees, just short of boiling, various volatiles were found.

No way did the air inside the sweat lodge get close to boiling.

The victims died of an extreme heat.

Many other sweat lodge ceremonies had been conducted in that same sweat lodge.

You heard testimony that the only time participants were in distress is when defendant runs the event.

In 2007 and in 2008, Mr. Ray conducted a ceremony there and people got sick.

In 2007, he conducted a lodge in a  different structure people got sick.

This is fuurther evidence that it is Mr. Ray’s conduct and not some unknown toxin that caused the victims to die.

Now let me talk to you a little bit about this audio.

You have a crucial piece of evidence that the first responder did not have.

You have heard testimony about the defendant’s conduct.

You’ve heard the defendant’s own words describing how he was intentionally taking the lodge to extreme heat to achieve an altered mental state telling and them to ignore signs of their bodies.

Sweat lodge ceremonies are not inherently dangerous events.

Endurance challenges where participants are told to ignore signs of heat illness are incredibly dangerous.

No one could imagine that James Ray would ignore calls for help and allow participants to pass out in that tent and just leave them there.

He knew

He intended to introduce hellaciously hot heat and steam.

He told participants to ignore their body’s warning signs of distress and pushing through pain and suffering was a good thing.

He told them they were not supposed to speak during sweat lodge ceremony unless asked by him.

He told they could not leave the tent during a round. He told them the  “stone people” are heated to a fevered pitch and he said, “I am the grand master in this temple and I need you to think of it in this way. The person running the lodge is like a priest.”


James Ray audio clip: “…By the time we get to the 27th round – just kidding I will promise you we’ll have at least 7 rounds it just depends on how I get inspired. You’ve got to surrender to it. We’ll be during some prayers and chants and I may go into an altered state. …

I’m the master of the lodge and when I tell you to do something that’s when you do it.

The 1st pouch rep the underworld

Normally the 1st round for me is just a warm up round. I have to transcend my body.

This is my chance to live honorably to live my values above and beyond my moods. Moods say get the hell out of here. .

Before the first round you’ll be saged outside

In 1st round I’ll offer some sandalwood to the fire and the lodge.

Sandalwood has been the incense of the archangel of earth.

I’ll ask you to offer up your prayers to the lodge and to the universe.

Underworld – what you’ve committed to doing in that direction with your unconscious issues

Need to proclaim it like you really mean it keep doing it until you …

Find strength in unity of this group in connectivity of your intentions

My expectation is that you’re going to go through this like a samurai.

You’re going to transcend this this mother fucking James Ray shit.

Show you what you’re really capable of doing…

You will be in such an altered state in such an altered state you’ve ever been in minus psychoactives. Really.You’ll have the opportunity to explore your own consciousness.

You’ll go into one of the most profound altered states you’ve ever experienced. We’ve had people who don’t even know who they are anymore.

So I was talking to a Native American friend of mine and he said that the lodge is the only one that even comes close to … is the Lakota and you know the Lakota.

The only thing that comes to move you forward in your evolution is …. altered states

You are going to have one of the most intense altered states you have ever had in your life.

They’ll come to a time where I have to not be James anymore it will be the most intense experience, the most intense heat you have ever had in your life. I guarantee that you will feel like you are going to die I guarantee that.

You see the true spiritual warrior has conquered death.

You will have to get to a point where you … and it’s ok to die.”

Ms. Polk: What you must consider is did the defendant’s conduct pose a substantial and unjust risk of death and was the defendant aware of the risk. Did he substantially disregard the substantial risk of death?

To prove crime of manslaughter you would have to prove Mr. Ray was aware of the risk of death and ignored it.

I submit to you that Mr. Ray was aware of that risk.

His words before and during the heat challenge itself is proof to you that he was aware.

His conduct inside sweat lodge as round after round after round more people got sick and his conduct about what he did and what he did not do shows you that what was happening is what he intended to happen. You’ve heard his intent was to create this extreme mental state.

But he intended to use that heat to take them up to that brink of death and think they were getting something for their $10, 000.

That’s why he doesn’t stop as people being dragged out. This is what he intended.

What the lawyers say is not evidence the testimony is evidence

You’ll have to go through t3 ½ months of evidence.

Witness after witness has testified about the growing chaos in this tent starting really about the end of round 4.

Amy Grimes passed out on Kim Brinkley. She testified she yelled out for help and that Amy was dragged out.

Somebody drags out Amy right out past the defendant.

Lou Caci seated at 12 o’clock originally delirious and unconscious falling into that pit of heated rocks.

You have heard so much testimony about the growing chaos moans request for help dragged out limp and lifeless in front of the defendant.

All the info that he had about people being in distress as early as the 4th round and all the opportunity he had to stop this challenge. He didn’t.

Mr. Ray’s desire to make people think they were experiencing something unique took precedence over their safety.

Debbie Mercer testified that she assisted about 25 people.

Beverly Bunn testified that everything was chaos after the 4th round. Sydney Spenser was dragged out completely lifeless right past the defendant. The defendant shouted, “Everybody quite down. I am in  charge.”

When Scott Barratt tried to move Linda Andresano, the defendant yelled at him to stop. Scott Barratt testified that he stopped because he was afraid that the defendant would yell at him again.

Mr. Ray said, “Just leave her. We need to keep going”

All these opportunities to stop that event.

These deaths were not inevitable.

Ask yourself , if the defendant had stopped the ceremony when he had these warnings would Kirby James and Liz still be alive?

Mike Olesen testified that Christine was in his path babbling and holding on to her tobacco pouch.

Mike Olesen testified that the defendant yelled at him to back away and let lady to back in.

He tried to make Linda Andresano lay down and asked for help but found that everyone around was out of it.

You can infer from that evidence that what was happening was what the defendant intended to happen.

What about Liz Neuman?. Was Liz upset with herself due to the reprimand she received from defendant for drinking wine and maybe disturbing his nap?

Was Liz determined to prove that she was “more than that” possibly?

And participants told Mr. Ray that Liz was struggling.

Laura Tucker’s testimony sat at the 9 to 10 o’clock position near Liz Neuman. Liz had coached her on tips to survive the sweat lodge.

Around 4th or 5th round Liz moved closer to hot rocks tried to get Liz to come back from the heat Liz brushed her hand away she called out to Mr. Ray James its Laura I’m concerned about Liz

Mr. Ray did not investigate. He did not leave his spot by the door. Instead he said, “Liz has done this before and she knows what’s she’s doing.”

This suggests that this was was acceptable to him because this is what he intended to happen.

When Laura Tucher touches Liz shoulder and asks if she needs to leave James Ray says, “She’s all right.”

Liz, who had just heard Mr. Ray say she’s all right, answers yes.

Did Liz Neuman say no because she had heard Mr. Ray say that Liz knew what she she was doing?

Laurie Gennari in her words said Liz looked awful, like a drunk .

She heard Mr. Ray respond, “Liz knows what she’s doing.”

Asked by Laura  if she wanted to leave, Liz responded slurring no no no no no no

Ms. Mercer heard someone say, “I can’t get her to respond” and she hear Mr. Ray say, “She’s been down this road before. She’ll be ok.” She  heard Mr. Ray say to worry about yourself and don’t worry about others.

Lou Caci started at 11 o clock near the pit

He went back in for the last round.

As he crawled back in James Ray said, “This one’s for you. Lou.”

He took a position near Liz Neuman at 7 -8 o’clock position

In the last round he testified that Liz’s breathing wassimilar to breathing of his brother and his father shortly before both of them had died.

Kim Brinkley stayed at 4 5 o’clock the entire time. She heard Laura yell out she’s concerned about Liz who was unresponsive. She heard Mr. Ray respond, “She’ll be fine.”

Liz Neuman was pulled out of tent 2 rounds later unconscious and she never recovered.

Nell Wagoner, the gynecologist form Alaska, encountered Liz with no one tending to her she lay by Liz and urged her Liz wake up stayed with Liz until paramedics arrived. She testified that Liz had foaming form the mouth and she told her Liz was cold.

Before paramedics even arrived, Nell Wagoner testified that she touched Liz and Liz was already cold.

Jennifer Haley testified that she had taken 2 cups of water poured it on Liz.

Most likely she was cooled down like all the others with hose or with 5 gallons buckets like everybody else.

You heard many people testify how quickly they went from being hot to being shivering cold.

Melissa Phillips sat at the 2 o’clock position and she left after the 3rd round

Melissa testified that she came back in for last three rounds because she did not want to disappoint Mr. Ray.

She laid face down with face turned toward Kirby Brown.

She called out 5-6 times that there was something wrong with Kirby and Kirby needed to be taken out.

Someone responded, she’s fine but she didn’t recognize the voice.

A participant named Theresa, probably Dawn Gordon, directed others to roll Kirby over Kirby stopped the snorting sound couldn’t tell you if Kirby was even breathing

Finally Mellissa Phillips testified that someone tried to crawl out back of lodge and the defendant chastised him and told him not to do it. Melissa Phillips testified that that person was James Shore.

Laurie Gennari moved to three o’clock right before last round heard a voice call out, “She’s not responding”.

And at another time, she heard someone called out, “She’s not breathing.” She heard Mr. Ray respond, “leave her there we’ll deal with it at the end of the round.”

Beverly Bunn sat at 2 -3 o’clock position for first 4 rounds but she decided she needed to get out and as she crawled towards door the defendant said, “Beverly, especially you. You are stronger than this. You can get through this.”

Had been working directly with James Ray and she believed Mr. Ray knew better because he had done this before.

She ended up at 8-9 o’clock could get some air when flap opened

She heard a voice say, “I can’t get her to breath. Someone’s not breathing.” And she heard Mr. Ray respond “The door is closed this round has begun. We’ll deal with it after the next round.”

Outside, participants were waiting for Mr. Ray to go check up on them but he did not instead he started another round introducing more rocks more heat more water and more searing steam.

He had information that in the back someone was in trouble, not breathing and Mr. Ray lets another round go by.

You saw Dr. Bunn’s demeanor on the stand remembering how she crawled past her friend Kirby making a snorting gurgling sound.

At that point, according to witnesses, Kirby was still breathing. According to Dr. Bunn still alive.

If a heart has a heartbeat it still has a shock able rhythm.

How much more time before Kirby was pulled out by Debbie and Sara Mercer?

Mr. Ray, who took care of himself first, celebrated, got some water and went to shade, took a seat.

Eventually, he told Debbie Mercer she could remove them if it was absolutely necessary.

Mr. Ray told somebody to urinate in that tent. Now that it’s over, he has information that three people are still down. He doesn’t get up and help open back of tent and tells Debbie Mercer she can only open back of tent if it’s absolutely necessary.

If Mr. Ray had paid attention to calls for Kirby would Kirby Brown would still be alive.

If Mr. Ray done something to get EMT working on her faster, would Kirby Brown still be alive?

Nell Wagoner sitting at the 5 o’clock position was very close to Mr. Ray.

She testified that he was aware that people were being dragged out others seemed to be unconscious.

She heard someone say, “Wait there’s one more.” She sat just a few feet from Mr.Ray and she heard him reply “We’ll have to wait until after the next round.”

Mark Rock testified that around the 6th or 7th round, he heard Kirby Brown making a gurgling noise sound. That was only sound in the tent at the time.

Mark Rock heard someone say, “I think she’s in trouble she need s to get out.” at 10 o’clock and he heard Mr. Ray say, “We’re closing the gate.”

Mark Rock also heard James Shore struggling actually lifting the edge of the flap to get some air in order to survive the event himself.

Kim Brinkley heard labored breathing coming from spot where Kirby sat and that it was concerning.

Dawn Gordon testified that James Shore dragged out Sydney Spencer (unconscious) and came back to a position in tent next to Kirby.

James Shore called out, “We need help over here.”

Was James Shore referring just to Kirby or referring to himself as well?

He made comments to Dawn Gordon suggesting that he was struggling.

James Shore calls out WE need help over here. Could he have meant for himself and Kirby.

Dawn Gordon told the detectives that James Shore yelled out for help. On the stand, she said he just put it out there.

Pushed and pulled Kirby to her side and encouraged her to keep breathing

On the stand Dawn Godon testified that Mr. Shore again called out for help but in a weaker voice.

Mr. Shore, in a last ditch effort to survive and to help Kirby survive, lifts the edge of the tent to get some fresh air. Dawn Gordon testified that Mr. Ray yelled out, “Turn off the light!”

She testified that after that things got quiet and after the ceremony, they were both unconscious and not moving.

You heard testimony about what happened near the end of the heat endurance challenge.

Debbie Mercer told you around the 6th or the 7th James Shore dragged someone out of tent right next to Mr. Ray. She saw him hit his head on one of the beams.

The autopsy report indicates an abrasion on his forehead.

She heard someone say, “So and so is not breathing” and testified that she heard Mr. Ray respond, “Really? They’re not breathing?” She also heard Mr. Ray respond, “They’ll be fine. That’s where they need to be.”

Debbie testified that Mr. Ray instructed her to close door and he never checked up on anyone.

Things were then quiet for that last round.

Sarah Mercer heard someone say, “There’s a few people unconscious.” She heard Mr. Ray say that was a good thing. She also heard someone ask if they should take them out.

You heard testimony fromFawn Foster. She heard someone say there were three people down inside. She did not hear a reply. She heard Mr. Ray say, “Leave them until the end of the next round.”

That is proof beyond a reasonable doubt the Mr. Ray was aware and consciously disregarded that his conduct would cause death but there’s more.

Let’s look at the waiver. You’ll be able to see them when you go back.

The waiver releases Mr. Ray and JRI of liability for acts.

You can consider this as evidence that Mr. Ray knew his conduct created a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death.

The waiver states that there may be a “ceremonial sauna” involving intense temperatures and  there is a risk of injury or death.

It states that people may have been seriously injured by participating in activities.

People may suffer physical emotional, financial injury and there is or can be no guarantee regarding my health or safety re participation in activities.

The defense wants you to believe that this is not an awareness of risk of death of these activities.

Looking at entire record ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Rays conduct is a gross deviaton from the standard of care a reasonable person would exercise.

A reasonable person knows that if you spend too much time in a super-heated environ you will die.

If you are too hot for too long you will die.

It does not require special knowledge to know intense temperature is life threatening.

Dr. Dickson testified that participants should take time to acclimate, get plenty of sleep, be well rested, be in top physical condition, hydrate continuously, not fast, should be educated on signs and symptoms of heat illness and should get out and immediately and cool off before change in mental status occurs. Participants should look out for each other may not recognize a change in mental status.

You heard testimony that heat stroke symptoms occur on a continuum.

The hallmark is an altered mental status.

Dr. Dickson testified that that is the demarcation between heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

He testified that if someone passes out in a heated sweat lodge they should be immediately removed.

The defendant kept the heat event challenge a surprise for most of the participants.

He told them of the event for 1st time 1 hour before commencement.

In his pre-event briefing, Mr. Ray described all the signs and symptoms of heat related illness, but then told them to ignore them and that it was safe to do so.

Mr. Ray told them it was ok to pass out inside sweat lodge and they’d be taken care of.

He arranged for a 36 hour fast leaving them hungry, dehydrated and not grounded,

They were deprived of sleep.

During the ceremony, he did not allow them to hydrate unless they went outside.

Mr. Ray intentionally decided to ignore warning of heat illness he knew they would experience inside his sweat lodge and told them to ignore signs of heat illness.

Mr. Ray encouraged them to let others have their own experience and not to interfere.

Rather than teaching participants that altered mental status is hallmark of heat exhaustion, Mr. Ray encouraged them to push through and endure and that they would have a breakthrough.

You heard Stephen Ray’s testimony about Mr. Rays actions when sweat lodge was over. He came out, gave a  victory wave, hosed off, got a  drink and sat in the shade.

Meanwhile, the Mercers dealing with that horrifying chaos.

Christine was shouting, “James! James! Why did this happen?”

He went over and took her hand and said, “Christine, wake up.”

This was what he intended

From his perspective they were having this altered mental experience that he wanted them to have.

Debbie Mercer came over told him three people still inside.

He told Debbie she could open up back only if absolutely necessary.

He let two women who are about my size pull back the tent and try to pullout three people.

Even beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Ray intended everything to happen.

He decided to intentionally bring participants up to edge of death to have that extreme altered mental state that he told them was a good thing. His behavior, beyond a reasonable doubt, is the crime of reckless manslaughter.

Ms. Polk reads the definition of gross deviation:

Gross Deviation: one that may be characterized by such terms as flagrant, extreme, outrageous heinous or grievous. Deviation from reasonable conduct must be greater than mere heedlessness that is required in a civil suit.

Substantial and unjustifiable risk: civil merely unreasonable

Criminal risk of death must be substantial and unjustifiable.

By Mr. Rays own words he intended to create something that was extreme.

By his own words, he intended to create this extreme event and he did.

This is clearly gross deviation from how a reasonable person in that situation acts.

Chance to learn a little bit about Kirby, James and Liz

No way they experienced any kind of free choice to stay inside of tent as they died

No way could they exercise any free choice as they were struggling and falling unconscious.

You heard the audio clip of James Shore where he told the group his intention. I’m playing it again for the limited purpose of understanding James Shore’s state of mind as well as Mr. Ray’s knowledge of Mr. Shore’s state of mind.

JAMES SHORE CLIP:  “I’m a samurai James Shore.  My purpose breath honor and truth with every second of this life to live impeccably be in perfect HARMONY with creation to live to best of my abilities at all times continue to path of enlightenment without distraction …. I am Samurai as a child of god I claim my right to ascend to the throne of god as a fully enlightened ascended master Aye ya ya” – James Ray repeats “Aye ya ya.”

I assert to you that Mr. Shore was living impeccably. What a contrast between teacher and student.

Mr. Ray who sat there consciously disregarding risk of death that his conduct created.

Mr. Shore, struggling to survive, yet taking care of those around him.

From 6th round down what James Shore did and what James Ray did not –again what a contrast between teacher and student.

James Shore becomes aware of Sydney Spencer is unconscious, described by witness as lifeless. He drags her out bumps his head. He has opportunity to get out himself, and be with us today and what does he do? He’s aware of somebody else is in trouble so he turns around and he goes back in to dark area in back where there is not air.

He goes back when the door is still open he calls out for help and he doesn’t get it.

He’s taking care of Kirby and trying to talk her through– trying to keep her alive.

In the 7th round James Shore calls out for help. Mr. Ray, hearing those words, says the door is closing.

You heard more testimony about James Shore trying to keep Kirby alive – lifting up the flap desperate to stay alive, so weakened in his state, clearly altered, he obeys and puts down the flap

In 15 minutes or so they are both pulled out without a heartbeat.


Why did Mr. Ray not stop time and time again he had info that people were not doing well?

He chose to bring in more rocks, more water, create more heat and more steam.

Death was not inevitable.

Death did not have to happen in this case.

Think how different it would be if after the 6th  round right in front Mr. Ray he had just stopped this event then.

Ask yourself why he did not.

He did not because he wanted this extreme altered state.

This is what he sold to participants for $10,000.

Ms. Polk explains how to fill out verdict forms …


Kirby James and Liz all arrived at Angel Valley full of life, but when Mr. Ray told them to push through pain in order to have a break through, Mr. Ray senselessly snuffed out their lives. That is what manslaughter is all about –recklessly causing the death of another.

Kirby's tobacco pouches



  1. Thanks for posting all this. I wasn’t able to stream the closing today and this gives me a really good idea of what happened. It makes me so angry that this tragedy never needed to happen. Ms. Polk was very eloquent.

    • Thanks for the kind words. This senseless loss of life and the persistence of the bizarre beliefs that lead up to tragedy are hard for me to wrap my head around. It’s important to me to put the information out there so people can defend themselves against unscrupulous charlatans who exploit the sacred for easy money. Let’s just hope and pray that Ms. Polk’s eloquence achieves a verdict that will spark more discussion, more education on the complex social issues involved in this case and more understanding.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to transcribe this. Though I’m sure it was more rewarding than having to stay awake and conscious during Li’s closing 😉 It was only everyone’s humour that got us through that marathon.

    • You’re welcome Kathryn. It’s not a complete transcript and there are a lot of typos and omissions, but I didn’t get it up until 3:00 am when I was quite loopy. I believe humour is a powerful medicine and It can also be a powerful weapon against irrationality.

  3. Thank you for this..It puts it all together so concisely and with the pictures it re-inforces it!!! I will re-read this many times in the coming days..

    • Thanks for taking the time to read it! I’m also working on exposing the logical fallacies in Uncle Luis’ story – should be up in a few days.

      • I cannot wait to read your take on Luis Li’s misconceptions. Your concise reporting on Ms. Polk’s closing was tremendous. Thank you, thank you. I just wish the jury could read it. It would be a guilty verdict for sure.

  4. […] distract the public from their own “occult” scandal.Kathryn Price NicDhàna links to a transcription of the closing prosecution arguments in the almost finished trial of New Age prosperity guru James Arthur Ray, accused of negligent […]

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