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Jurors decide penalty of man involved in sweat-lodge death from Milwaukee man


CAMP VERDE, AZ (WTAQ) - Jurors in Arizona were about to decide this afternoon whether James Arthur Ray should get a tough sentence for letting a Milwaukee man die in a sweat-lodge ceremony.

Closing arguments in the trial’s penalty phase were presented Wednesday morning.

After convicting Ray last week, the jury must decide if there were aggravating factors that a judge should consider when giving his sentence.

The jury found Ray guilty last week on three lesser charges of negligent homicide, for causing the deaths of 40-year-old James Shore of Milwaukee and two others during a spiritual ceremony in a heated structure in 2009.

Ray could get anything from probation to 11 years behind bars.

Prosecutors had survivors of the victims testify about their effects on their families’ lives due to the tragedy. But the defense said the state did not meet some key burdens of proof.

Ray’s lawyers said he never profited from the sweat lodge ceremony, and there’s no proof that Ray had a unique position of trust with the victims.