DNA evidence clears man charged in store robbery


Phil­adelphia po­lice have re­opened their in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to the armed rob­bery of a Wissi­nom­ing gro­cery store last June after the pro­sec­u­tion dropped its case against a man ini­tially ar­res­ted for the crime.

The dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice last month with­drew charges of rob­bery, theft, as­sault, reck­less en­dan­ger­ment and pos­sess­ing an in­stru­ment of crime against Scott E. Rein­er, 43, of the 7400 block of Lor­etto Ave.

Ac­cord­ing to a po­lice source, DNA evid­ence found at the scene did not match Rein­er’s. Po­lice have made no oth­er ar­rests in the case.

The crime oc­curred June 28 at the Lisa & Charlie Mar­ket, 6017 Tor­res­dale Ave. The rob­ber entered the store, ap­proached a fe­male clerk from be­hind, placed her in a choke­hold and poin­ted a black hand­gun at her chest, po­lice said. The wo­man grabbed the gun and struggled with the ban­dit. He knocked her to the floor, but she held onto the gun, so he fled.

He was last seen run­ning east­bound on Hig­bee Street, then south­bound on Vandike Street.

De­tect­ives ob­tained sur­veil­lance cam­era video of the sus­pect and re­leased it pub­licly. Soon after, someone called po­lice and iden­ti­fied the man in the video as Rein­er. Of­ficers ar­res­ted and charged him on Ju­ly 1.

On Ju­ly 19, a Mu­ni­cip­al Court judge post­poned Rein­er’s pre­lim­in­ary hear­ing be­cause the de­fense at­tor­ney was tied up in fed­er­al court on an un­re­lated case. On Sept. 6, the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice re­ques­ted an­oth­er post­pone­ment be­cause the gro­cery store clerk failed to show up in court to testi­fy.

On Oct. 20, the de­fense re­ques­ted a third post­pone­ment, along with “fur­ther in­vest­ig­a­tion” of the case, court re­cords show. After the DNA evid­ence came to light, the pro­sec­u­tion dropped all charges on Jan. 6.

Mean­while, au­thor­it­ies have charged an­oth­er man with an un­re­lated rob­bery of the same gro­cery store last June 14.

James Brock, 33, ad­dress un­known, al­legedly pulled a knife and de­man­ded money from the same clerk, who gave him $60 in cash. The rob­ber fled on a bi­cycle, said po­lice, who ar­res­ted Brock on Ju­ly 5.

Brock is await­ing tri­al in that case, along with a second rob­bery that oc­curred on June 29. ••


You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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