A judge dismissed a murder charge against a doctor who invented a device that an Alzheimer's disease victim used to kill herself, but he didn't clear the doctor to use the machine again.

District Judge Gerald McNally on Thursday threw out a first-degree murder charge against Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the June 4 death of Janet Adkins. She died after activating a machine Kevorkian invented that sent poison into her veins.Kevorkian was with her at the time of her death.

McNally ruled at the end of a two-day preliminary hearing that Michi

gan has no law against suicide or assisting in it.

Michael Modelski, chief assistant Oakland County prosecutor, said the prosecutor's office might ask the Circuit Court to reinstate the murder charge or bring lesser charges such as second-degree murder or manslaughter against Kevorkian.

"I think everyone realizes this isn't the final step," Modelski said.

The ruling doesn't let Kevorkian use the suicide device again. It remains in police custody after prosecutors obtained a temporary court order preventing its further use. A civil trial, probably in January, will decide whether or not to make that order permanent, said Kevorkian's attorney, Geoffrey Fieger.

Once hooked up to the device, Mrs. Adkins, 54, of Portland, Ore., pressed a button on the machine, starting a flow of lethal chemical into her veins. She died in the back of Kevorkian's van. Kevorkian said several motels and funeral homes had refused his request to let him use their sites for the suicide.