Jailed Man Cleared Of Robbery Charge

CANTON, Ohio (AP) - A man accused of robbing a pizza shop at gunpoint has been cleared of the crime and freed from the Stark County Jail, where he was held for more than four months.

Charles E. Sumpter Jr., 21, of Canton, was freed Thursday after 137 days in jail.

"It was frustrating, but we just knew he didn't do it," said Addis A. Desmond, Sumpter's uncle.

Sumpter was charged with the Nov. 24 robbery of Kraus Pizza in Canton Township. A second robbery count involving a nearby hair salon was dismissed as his trial began Wednesday in Stark County Common Pleas Court.

Sumpter told investigators he was with friends Nov. 24 and later at Desmond's birthday party.

On Thursday, Judge John Haas questioned a teenage defense witness about a written statement claiming he was responsible for the pizza shop and salon robberies.

A pizza shop worker previously identified Sumpter in a police lineup but identified the teen-age witness as the gunman on Thursday.

"Clearly, it was the right result," Haas said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)