Self-styled minister convicted in death

July 9, 2004 at 6:22 PM
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MILWAUKEE, July 9 (UPI) -- A Milwaukee pastor charged with suffocating an 8-year-old boy during an exorcism in a storefront church was convicted Friday of felony child abuse.

Jurors debated the case of Ray Anthony Hemphill for about four hours after closing arguments ended. He faces a possible five-year prison sentence for conducting a "spiritual healing" at the Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic the night of Aug. 22, 2003.

During the ceremony, Hemphill laid across the autistic boy for two hours in a room with no air conditioning as the child struggled to get free, Court TV said.

The boy's mother and two other parishioners were present at the prayer service, which was compared to an exorcism, but did not testify at the trial.

Defense attorneys said prescription drugs caused the boy's death.

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner ruled the boy died of suffocation.

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