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N.J. Officer Cleared in Wife’s Death

December 4, 2002

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MAYS LANDING, N.J. (AP) _ A police officer accused of suffocating his wife last year was cleared Wednesday after medical experts determined the woman died of a rare heart ailment.

Officer James Andros III, 33, found the body of his 31-year-old wife, Ellen, after he returned home from a night of drinking with friends.

The 12-year veteran of the Atlantic City Police Department was charged with murder after Assistant Atlantic County Medical Examiner Elliot Gross concluded she had been smothered.

However, a forensic expert who reviewed the evidence at the request of defense attorneys concluded Ellen Andros suffered bleeding in the coronary artery, which closed from the pressure and caused her heart to stop. The ailment, Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, occurs primarily in young women with no prior history of heart problems, officials said.

When Gross was confronted with the findings, he agreed with them and said he would correct Andros’ death certificate, prosecutor Jeffrey Blitz said. A judge dismissed the murder charge Wednesday.

Andros, who had been free on bail, has not worked as a police officer since his arrest. His two young daughters now live with his wife’s parents.

``He’s full of emotion,″ defense attorney John Bjorklund said. ``He’s been tortured. This man has been accused of murder, his children have been taken away. It’s been a nightmare.″

Andros is expected to file a civil suit over his ordeal, Bjorklund said.

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