A judge acquitted a dentist Thursday of one charge in a scheme to conceal the death of a man whose family tended his mummified corpse for nine years, but ordered the trial to continue on another charge.

Knox County Judge Daniel J. Roberts dismissed a charge of cruelty to children against Richard G. Kunce, 57. Kunce, who also faces a forgery charge, is accused of helping conceal the 1979 death of Carl Stevens, 39, of rural Knoxville.Kunce later took the stand and denied committing any crime, and the defense rested its case.

Kunce, a live-in guest at the Stevens' home since 1986, said he had met Stevens both before and after Stevens' death at age 39 and described himself as a "nutritional adviser" to the family.