(CN) – Motivational speaker James Arthur Ray was found guilty of three counts of negligent homicide Wednesday in connection to the deaths of three participants at a 2009 “Spiritual Warrior” seminar he held in sweat lodge.
More than 50 participants at the event in Sedona were crammed into a 415-square-foot sweat lodge after fasting for 36 hours, resulting in the deaths of Kirby Brown, 38; James Shore, 40; and Liz Neuman, 49. Eighteen others were hospitalized for dehydration and burns.
The trial, held at the Yavapai County Courthouse in Camp Verde, Ariz., took about four months, but jurors deliberated for less than nine hours, finding Ray not guilty of manslaughter in the three deaths, but guilty of negligent homicide.
Nine witnesses are set to testify at a hearing next week to find if any aggravating circumstances factor into Ray’s sentencing, according to media reports. Ray faces a maximum of 12 years for the negligent-homicide convictions.
Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk requested that Ray be taken into custody immediately after the verdict was announced, but Judge Warren Darrow denied the request.
Ray, a New York Times bestselling author, rose to popularity following appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Larry King Live” to discuss his appearance on the optimist-thinking film “The Secret.” His book, “Harmonic Wealth,” promotes the “Law of Attraction” belief that “like attracts like.”