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Instructor not guilty in death of recruit

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. - A Marine Corps swim instructor is not guilty of negligent homicide in the drowning of a recruit last year, a military judge ruled Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Nadya Lopez had been accused of failing to recognize or ignoring signs that 19-year-old Jason Tharp of Sutton, W.Va., was too tired or incapable of continuing before he drowned in a training pool on Feb. 8, 2005.

But the military judge, Maj. Mark Griffith, acquitted Lopez in the nonjury court-martial just 40 minutes after defense attorneys rested without calling any witnesses. They contended prosecutors simply failed to prove a crime had occurred.

"Sadly, Marines do die in training," Lt. Col. Scott Jack told the judge in closing arguments, adding that Lopez "did nothing wrong. She was a professional water combat survival instructor."

Tharp's mother, Linda, cried as the verdict was read and told the judge: "I hope you see Jason every time you turn around and hear him screaming."

Man suffering from anthrax; no terror link

NEW YORK - A New York drum maker has been hospitalized with a case of inhaled anthrax that officials say he may have contracted from the raw animal hides that he imports from Africa.

Authorities said Wednesday the infection appeared to be accidental - not terrorism - and did not pose a serious public health threat.

Vado Diomande, 44, had traveled recently to the west coast of Africa and fell ill in Pennsylvania last week shortly after he returned to this country with some goat hides, authorities said.

It was not clear whether Diomande came into contact with the deadly substance in Africa or in this country. But Mayor Michael Bloomberg said it was related to his job making drums from animal skins.

At least four other people may have been exposed to anthrax spores, including a family member of the infected man who worked with the hides, and three were being treated with antibiotics, city Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said.

"Every indication suggests that this is naturally occurring anthrax," Frieden said.

Biomedical expert accused of stealing body parts

NEW YORK - The head of a biomedical firm faces charges in an alleged plot to steal bone and other tissue from cadavers at New York funeral homes and sell it nationwide for transplants, officials said Wednesday.

It is the latest development in a scandal involving scores of funeral homes and hundreds of looted bodies, including that of "Masterpiece Theatre" host Alistair Cooke, who died of cancer in 2004.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes was expected to announce indictments today alleging that Michael Mastromarino, owner of Biomedical Tissue Services of Fort Lee, N.J., ran an illicit body parts ring, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the indictments still were sealed.

Three co-conspirators also will be charged, the official said.

Two dead, one hurt as small plane crashes

BOWIE, Md. - Two men were killed and a woman was injured Wednesday when their small plane crashed while preparing to land at a suburban airport near Washington, D.C., during a snowstorm.

The plane, a single engine Cessna 172 S-Model Skyhawk plane that had taken off from Warrenton, Va., was making its second approach to Freeway Airport using a global positioning system.

Freeway's chief flight instructor, Marcel Bernard, said he arrived on the scene to find two men in the front who appeared badly injured. Officials with the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department later confirmed they were dead. Bernard said a woman in the rear seat suffered serious injuries to her upper body and was later taken to a hospital.