Spider-Man has escaped a sticky legal web.
Prosecutors dropped a robbery charge Tuesday against a University of Pittsburgh student they say tried to steal from an Oakland convenience store last month while dressed as the famed superhero.
Pittsburgh police charged Jonathan Hewson, 21, with a single count of robbery after the Sept. 20 incident at Atwood Xpress.
The clerk, Bob Patel, told District Judge Hugh McGough Tuesday that he did not want to testify against the Pitt finance major.
Mr. Hewson's attorney, Michael Santicola, on Tuesday said "cooler heads prevailed today."
"When I first heard the story ... I thought to myself, 'What crime did he commit?' " the lawyer said.
Mr. Hewson, of Oakland, was released from the Allegheny County Jail on Tuesday, where he has been held in lieu of $50,000 bond since his arrest.
Mr. Patel, 23, of Oakland told officers last month that a man dressed in the costume and a mask, whom police identified later as Mr. Hewson, came into the store shortly after 1 a.m. Sept. 20 and loudly said "How much money you got," according to a criminal complaint.
Mr. Patel said he thought he was being robbed, so he pulled a stun gun out of his pocket and tried to use it.
Mr. Hewson, who did not have a weapon, ran out of the store empty-handed and police arrested him a short time later, still in costume, about a block from the store.
His roommate has said the situation was a misunderstanding and that Mr. Hewson would never consider robbing a store. He wore the costume around as a prank with his buddies, Mr. Santicola said.
Mr. Hewson has been temporarily suspended from the university, his attorney said, but he expects he will be reinstated. A Pitt spokesman said the university doesn't comment on student discipline.
Mr. Patel said Tuesday night that he has always felt safe in Oakland.
"After I found out it was a college kid who made a silly mistake, I didn't want to ruin his career" by pressing charges, Mr. Patel said. "But I have to take precautions. I thought it was a robbery, so I called police."
While Spider-Man has been vindicated, what will happen to the costume is still unclear. Mr. Santicola said the Commonwealth retained it and it likely will be destroyed.
Mike Manko, spokesman for the Allegheny County district attorney's office, said in an email that prosecutors didn't have any discussions with him about that.
"We don't have any kind of forfeiture order or a consent to take custody of that costume," he said.
Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Diane Richard said the costume is in the bureau's property room as evidence.
Molly Born: email@example.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede. Lexi Belculfine contributed. First Published October 1, 2013 12:15 AM