Lawyers: No crime at fatal Ariz. sweat lodge

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Attorneys for self-help expert James Arthur Ray say the deaths of three people in a sweat lodge ceremony he led were not the result of criminal negligence.

Authorities have focused a homicide investigation on Ray, but no charges have been filed.

The lawyers outlined their defense in letters to prosecutors that were publicly released on Wednesday.

They say holding a sweat lodge ceremony is not inherently criminal or unsafe, and that Ray properly told participants of the risks and took precautions.

A waiver signed by the more than 50 people who attended the Oct. 8 ceremony near Sedona said the sweat lodge would include tight, enclosed spaces and intense temperatures.

Participants have said that Ray let his ego get in the way and was reckless and controlling.