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Self-help guru James Arthur Ray drops appeal of death convictions

PHOENIX (WTAQ) - Self-help author James Arthur Ray has decided not to appeal his convictions in the deaths of a Milwaukee man and two others at a sweat-lodge ceremony Ray put on. 

A state appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments in the appeal next week, but Ray says it might open him up to a new trial with another guilty verdict and sentencing. 

Ray has completed a two-year prison term. He remains on parole until October on charges that his heated sweat lodge caused the deaths of James Shore of Milwaukee, Liz Neuman of Prior Lake Minnesota, and Kirby Brown of New York State. 

The deaths occurred during a spiritual healing ceremony in the fall of 2009 near Sedona Arizona. It was part of a weekend spiritual festival. 

Ray was convicted on three Arizona counts of negligent homicide. Ray's attorneys quickly appealed, claiming that prosecutors committed misconduct, and jurors received improper instructions. 

Ray still contends his convictions were flawed, but the state disagrees. Prosecutor Sheila Polk praised Ray's decision to stop his appeal, saying it will provide closure to the victims' families.

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