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Marine captain acquitted in Italian accident

Marine captain acquitted in Italian accident

March 4, 1999

DAILY BRIEFING

Marine captain acquitted in Italian accident

Marine Capt. Richard Ashby was acquitted today of charges of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of more than 20 people in Italy after the jet he was piloting flew into a ski gondola cable.

Ashby was also acquitted of charges of destroying government property, destroying private property, dereliction of duty and failure to plan the flight properly.

An 8-member military jury at Camp Lejeune, N.C., delivered the verdict after deliberating more than 7 hours. Closing arguments in the case concluded Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Ashby's reckless flying led to the accident, but his attorneys argued that he was unaware of altitude and speed restrictions, that a key gauge on the plane malfunctioned, and that an optical illusion made Ashby think he was flying higher than he was.