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Murder charges dropped in Ridge case

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Murder charges dropped in Ridge case
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An Oneonta man was charged with murder a couple of months ago, but now the Otsego District Attorney says there's no case to prosecute. As our Sarah Hagen tells us, William Sprague was accused of killing Sonya Ridge. But now a new report shows she died of natural causes.

ONEONTA, N.Y. -- William Sprague, 27, was accused of murder. His alleged victim, Sonya Ridge, 26.

Police responded to River Street in Downtown Oneonta last fall. Initial reports showed Ridge had died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl said, "When they first charged him, things looked much different. We had a woman with bruises, contusions to her face, being carried by two males. She didn't have all her clothes on, they were so intoxicated they couldn't give an explanation as to what they were doing."

A medical examiner has now released an official report saying it was natural causes, a brain aneurism, that killed Sonya Ridge back in November.

Muehl said, "He said it could have happened at any time. It may have never happened. It could have happened tomorrow, next week, while running or reading a book. It was a ticking time bomb that went off at that time apparently."

Sprague had been jailed for several days following his arrest. But it soon became apparent to the DA that evidence was shifting and a natural cause of death was a possibility.

For Sprague and his attorney, the dropped murder charge is news that's been anxiously anticipated.

Sprague's Attorney, William Schebaum, said, "A sense of relief above anything else. This been hanging over his head for several months now. Although he wasn't in custody, we just wanted some closure and finality to the matter."

Yet ,it leaves many questions still unanswered for the victim's family.

"I guess, any family would wonder what the final moments of their loved one was, but they'll probably never know that," said Muehl.

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