Calvert County Circuit Judge Perry G. Bowen Jr. acquitted Washington police officer Anthony J. Zavosky yesterday of murdering a Greenbelt maintenance man.

Bowen asserted that he could find no evidence of "deliberation, premeditation or malice," but ruled that Zavosky, 25, must be tried on lesser charges of manslaughter and use of a handgun in commission of a felony in the Feb. 17 killing of James Brown.

Brown, a 53-year-old maintenance man at the Springhill Lake apartment complex in Greenbelt, where Zavosky lived, was shot four times in the back and once in the chest with Zavosky's .38-caliber service revolver after he had gone to the officer's town house to change furnace filters, according to testimony.

Greenbelt police officers testified Tuesday that Zavosky, a four-year veteran with the D.C. force, had told them he thought Brown was an intruder. Under Maryland law, a judge or a jury can downgrade a first-degree murder charge to second-degree murder or manslaughter.

Zavosky is being tried by a judge at his request and the case was moved from Prince George's County to Calvert County after defense attorneys expressed concern that pretrial publicity would influence the outcome.