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Cape May County, N.J., prosecutors have decided not to charge local dentist Eric Thomas in the 1997 death of his wife in their family vehicle, saying conflicting expert testimony about the cause of death would stump a jury. “As a consequence of the differing conclusions and opinions of these numerous experts, no reasonable jury could conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this occurrence was an act of criminal homicide by manual strangulation, as opposed to a tragic motor vehicle accident fatality,” Acting County Prosecutor J. David Meyer said Thursday. Tracy Thomas was found dead behind the wheel of her Ford Explorer after a minor collision. Her husband was found unconscious in the passenger seat. Ford Motor Co.’s pathologist, Michael Baden, said an examination of tissue samples indicated that Tracy was manually choked. The local coroner said she died of blunt trauma caused by the air bag. Experts hired by Thomas agreed. “The existence of two groups of qualified forensic medical experts firmly holding opposing views of the cause and manner of death based upon the same scientific evidence suggests both a substantial subjective component to their respective conclusions and that a definitive objective scientific solution is not available utilizing present knowledge and technology,” he continued. Meyer added that he would reopen the case if new evidence materialized. He noted that each side’s vested interest in a civil suit, since discontinued, rendered its experts’ conclusions about the woman’s death “somewhat suspect” but added that “neither theory can be conclusively proved to the exclusion of the other.” Last July, Thomas dropped his suit against Ford, alleging that a faulty air bag killed his wife, after his last-minute cancellation of an appointment for a psychological exam ordered by the court at Ford’s request. Thomas admitted in a deposition that he was having an extramarital affair around the time of his wife’s death. Thomas’ criminal defense attorney, Carl Poplar of Poplar & Eastlack in Turnersville, N.J., did not return calls about Meyer’s announcement. William Conroy of Turnersville’s Campbell, Campbell, Edwards & Conroy and Haddonfield, N.J., solo practitioner Glenn Zeitz, who represented Ford in Thomas’ civil suit, decline to comment. Meyer’s comment that the case could be reopened because of advanced technology might permit a more advanced analysis of tissue samples from the dead woman, says Lawrence Schiller, the author known for his books about the O.J. Simpson and JonBenet Ramsey cases. “They left it open because in New Jersey, of course, there is no statute of limitations on murder,” says Schiller, whose book about the Thomas case will come out in August.

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