Self-help author's attorneys argue for probation

November 15, 2011 - 2:25 PM

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — Attorneys for a self-help author convicted in the deaths of three people following an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony are making their case for probation.

James Arthur Ray's defense team called the first of nearly two dozen witnesses Tuesday to testify on Ray's behalf.

Ray led dozens of people in the October 2009 ceremony near Sedona. He's facing up to nine years in prison after being convicted on three counts of negligent homicide.

Defense witness David McCall Jr. says Ray's teachings improved his health and put him on the path to spirituality and a better relationship with his family.

Prosecutors had presented several witnesses in an effort to show that Ray's events became progressively more dangerous, his ego was overblown, and he was fixated on earning money.

The judge will consider the testimony in sentencing Ray on Friday.