PITTSBURGH (AP) — Prosecutors dropped a robbery charge against a Pennsylvania college student who dressed as Spider-Man after a convenience store clerk testified he believed the incident was just a "silly mistake."
Jonathan Hewson, a 21-year-old senior finance and economics major at the University of Pittsburgh, was being released Tuesday from jail in Pittsburgh, where he has been held since shortly after his arrest Sept. 20, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (http://bit.ly/1bqjkvl ) reported.
That's when Pittsburgh police said Hewson entered the convenience store near the Pitt campus about 1:10 a.m. — dressed in the superhero costume — and asked, "How much money you got?"
Hewson didn't make any threats and ran away when the clerk, Bob Patel, produced a stun gun.
Hewson's friends have since told local reporters he's an enthusiastic fan of the Spider-Man character created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, who made his first appearance in Marvel's "Amazing Fantasy" No. 15 in 1962. Among other things, Hewson is known to wear the costume at a local rock-climbing wall and the off-campus neighborhood where he lives.
Prosecutors agreed to drop the robbery charge Tuesday after Patel told a district judge he didn't want to testify against Hewson.
"I don't want to ruin his career. He's on his last year of college and he's going to a good school. He just made a silly mistake," Patel told District Judge Hugh McGough. The clerk said he reconsidered pressing charges after hearing Hewson's friends describe his Spider-Man fandom in news reports.
"When somebody comes in, in the middle of the night, wearing a Spider-Man suit and asking for money, I'm thinking it's a robbery," Patel said. "He just made a mistake."
Defense attorney Michael Santicola, said he hopes to get Hewson's arrest record expunged and Hewson readmitted to Pitt, which suspended him from classes after his arrest.
"It was, I would say, a college prank gone awry," Santicola said. "I think cooler heads prevailed today ... Spider-Man is not a robber."
A Pitt spokesman said he could not comment on Hewson's status.
Santicola also said Hewson's Spider-Man days are likely over.
"I think the Spider-Man outfit is going to be kept by the Commonwealth and destroyed," he said.
Information from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, http://pghtrib.com