MARYLAND

Charge to Be Dropped Prosecutors said they plan to drop a handgun charge against a convenience store owner who was arrested during an investigation into a possible terrorist threat to a Baltimore highway tunnel.

Prosecutors planned to drop the charge against Maged Hussein today.

"I was innocent from the beginning. Everybody knows that," the Egyptian-born Hussein said. "I'm glad somebody else is not making a mistake again."

On Oct. 18, federal authorities raided several locations in the area, including Hussein's store. They were investigating a tip that several men were planning to detonate a truck full of explosives in a tunnel.

Agents detained four men from the Middle East who already faced deportation for immigration violations. None is believed to be involved in any terror plot, law enforcement officials said.

They also arrested Hussein.

Hussein's handgun "was not a threat to anybody," said Karl Goodman, his attorney. "It was locked up, unloaded in a safe."

Weapons Seized at School The Frederick County Sheriff's Office arrested two Crestwood Middle School students yesterday morning after school officials discovered that one was carrying an air pistol and another a butterfly knife, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office said.

The student carrying the air pistol was detained by Principal Kathleen Hartsock after a parent informed school officials that a student had been carrying what appeared to be a real gun, Cpl. Jennifer Bailey said. The air pistol looked nearly identical to a Walther PPK semiautomatic pistol, she said.

Under questioning, the student said a fellow student was carrying a butterfly knife with a five-inch blade, Bailey said. Both students are 13 years old. Bailey said both admitted to shooting out the windows of two parked cars last month.

Police took the students to the Alfred D. Noyes Juvenile Detention Center in Rockville on charges of vandalism and carrying a concealed deadly weapon on school grounds, Bailey said.

New Trial Ordered A Baltimore Circuit Court judge has ordered a new trial for a man who has spent two decades in prison on a murder conviction after DNA testing determined that genetic evidence found at the scene was not his.

Robert C. Griffin, now 71, was found guilty in 1986 of stabbing and strangling 20-year-old Annie Cruse and leaving her body in Baltimore's Druid Hill Park. Judge Gale E. Raisin said in a hearing that the result from a recent DNA test is "so compelling" that Griffin deserves a new trial.

"I have no question but that the newly discovered DNA evidence is material to the case," she said. "This court is compelled to grant a new trial."

Despite the evidence, prosecutors insist they have the right man. The evidence against Griffin was "outstanding," said Assistant State's Attorney Matthew Fraling.

Compiled from reports by staff writers and wire services.