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LEWISTOWN - A 48-year-old man died just hours after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for killing his young great-niece last year, officials said Thursday.

An autopsy Thursday revealed no physical cause for the death of James Norris of Canton, Fulton County Coroner Steve Hines said. He said his office is awaiting results of toxicology tests, which could be available within four weeks.

Norris experienced heart attack-like symptoms at the Fulton County Jail shortly after he was sentenced Wednesday in the death of 4-year-old Kathryn Westerfield, Fulton County Sheriff Jeff Standard told the (Peoria) Journal Star.

Hines said Norris was back in his cell around noon and told jail officials about three hours later that he was feeling discomfort.

He taken to Graham Hospital in Canton, where he was pronounced dead at 6:14 p.m. Wednesday.

He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in April under a deal with prosecutors, who dropped another count of first-degree murder and a charge of aggravated battery of a child.

Norris, who lived with his great-niece and her family, admitted repeatedly tripping the girl on Jan. 26, 2006, because he was upset with her behavior. The girl died three days later from head injuries.

The girl's mother, Rebecca Breese, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated battery of a child by accountability. Prosecutors dropped charges of first-degree murder and obstruction of justice.

Breese, 28, faces up to 20 years in prison when she is sentenced Aug. 3. She remains in Fulton County Jail.


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