Witnesses: Deadly sweat lodge wasn't Ray's only retreat disaster

Associated Press/November 10, 2010

Camp Verde, Arizona - A woman who called 911 after a sweat lodge ceremony says the participants were in worse shape than she'd seen in two other years.

Debra Mercer testified Wednesday in a hearing that will determine whether evidence from years of sweat lodge ceremonies led by motivational speaker James Arthur Ray will be allowed at his trial.

Ray has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges, stemming from the deaths of three people following his 2009 ceremony near Sedona.

Defense attorney Truc Do (Doh) questioned why Mercer did not call 911 if she believed so many participants were in distress in 2007 and 2008. She also noted that Mercer's account of the events became more detailed over time.

Mercer says it was most obvious in 2009 that medical attention was needed.

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