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Sentencing starts in sweat lodge deaths

PRESCOTT, Ariz., Nov. 8 (UPI) -- An Arizona judge has set six days for the sentencing hearing for a self-help author convicted of negligent homicide in the sweat-lodge deaths of three people.

Yavapai Superior Court Judge Warren Darrow is allowing three days each for prosecutors and the defense to present testimony on how long a sentence James Arthur Ray should receive, The Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.

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Ray was convicted in the deaths at his Spiritual Warrior retreat of Kirby Brown, 38, and James Shore, 40, who fell unconscious and died at the sweat lodge, and Liz Neuman, 49, who died of massive organ failure nine days later at a Flagstaff hospital.

At his trial, where prosecutors had charged Ray with manslaughter, Ray's lawyers argued the deaths were accidental.

Instead of manslaughter, jurors convicted Ray of negligent homicide, finding that although Ray's actions caused the deaths, he was not aware of the risk of death inherent in the manner in which he conducted the sweat lodge ceremony.

Ray faces a possible nine years and nine months in prison.

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