Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Preacher guilty in boy's exorcism death

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Preacher Guilty In Boy's Exorcism Death
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 9, 2004

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN--After deliberating just four hours, a jury convicted Ray Anthony Hemphill with felony physical abuse of a child causing great bodily harm in the suffocation death of 8-year-old Terrance Cottrell Jr.

The boy's father told reporters the ruling was "minor justice", adding that he thought prosecutors should have charged Hemphill with manslaughter or murder.

Hemphill was escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs after the verdict was read Friday afternoon. He will be held in jail until his scheduled August 18 sentencing unless his family and church can post a $10,000 bail. At that time he faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and five more years on extended supervision and up to $25,000 in fines.

Ray Hemphill, 47, was ordained as a pastor of the Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith by his brother, "Bishop" David Hemphill, who founded the church in 1977.

Hemphill told police on the night of August 22, 2003 that he had been holding a series of special prayer services, described by some as exorcisms, over the previous three weeks to remove "evil spirits" of autism from Cottrell. Hemphill, who weighed 157 pounds, described how he would sit or lay on "Junior's" chest for up to two hours at a time, whispering into the boy's ear for the "demons" to leave his body.

Three women -- including the child's mother, Patricia Cooper -- described to police how they sat on Cottrell's arms and legs while Hemphill sat on his chest. One woman said she pushed down on the boy's diaphragm several times during the service.

At some point during the service, the boy stopped breathing.

During the trial that began Tuesday, Hemphill's defense attorney Thomas Harris brought in an expert to testify that high levels of three types of medication, including an anti-psychotic drug, caused the boy's death.

Prosecutor Mark S. Williams presented a different toxicologist to state that the medication levels, while high, were not within the toxic range and did not contribute to his death.

The medical examiner who performed Cottrell's autopsy told jurors he found signs of hemorrhaging in the boy's eye, a condition seen in cases of strangulation, or increased pressure to the vascular blood supply.

During closing arguments, Williams told the jury that Hemphill knew he was hurting Cottrell because the boy was struggling to get away. Williams said that children with autism do not like to be held or touched. Williams said Hemphill simply didn't care.

None of the three women testified during the trial, citing their Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify to avoid incriminating themselves. Milwaukee County District Attorney E. Michael McCann had not yet decided whether to file charges against any of the women.

"Medical examiner: Autistic boy suffocated during exorcism" (Court TV)
"Exorcist's brother says God claimed autistic boy's life, not defendant" (Court TV)
"Jury finds minister guilty in autistic boy's death" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
"Terrence Cottrell: Death By Exorcism" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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