Defense Questions Witness On Heat In Sweat Lodge

CAMP VERDE, Ariz. (AP) — Attorneys in a self-help author’s manslaughter trial spent Thursday quizzing a witness on three years of sweat lodge ceremonies the author led.

Ted Mercer testified that he saw participants struggling in the ceremonies James Arthur Ray conducted from 2007 to 2009 near Sedona. Mercer was tending to the fire used to heat rocks placed inside the structure.

Three people died following the 2009 ceremony. Ray has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.

Prosecutors worked to paint a picture for the jury that Ray was reckless in his handling of the events.

Defense attorneys say the three years aren’t comparable because not everything done was identically.

Mercer says Ray’s 2009 ceremony was the hottest but acknowledged during cross examination that he wasn’t sure of the temperature.

Testimony continues Friday with Mercer’s wife.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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