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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Court clears Ray Charles engineer
Ray Charles
Ray Charles died in June 2004
An audio engineer accused of stealing recordings belonging to late soul singer Ray Charles has been cleared in a Los Angeles court.

Terry Howard, 48, was arrested in February and dozens of recordings belonging to Ray Charles Enterprises were seized from his home.

He worked for Charles for 20 years until the singer's death in 2004.

Los Angeles Superior Court did not find that Mr Howard "intended to permanently deprive the victims of the property".

'Disorganised man'

The case was dismissed two days into a preliminary hearing into whether there was sufficient evidence for a trial.

Mr Howard's lawyer, Steve Cron, had argued the engineer had the tapes legally and did not return them through "inadvertence, negligence - the product of a man who is disorganised".

Mr Howard did not attempt to sell the recordings, which could be worth millions of dollars.

He shared three Grammys with Charles for his work on the singer's final album, Genius Loves Company.

Mr Howard said his recording studio at his home was messy because he had worked constantly with Charles during the last two years of his life.

"He was like a father to me," Mr Howard said.

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