A Philadelphia man who had a felony theft charge against him dropped for lack of evidence Wednesday walked out of Centre County Court and, 90 minutes later, swiped a designer handbag from the Nittany Mall, police said.
Shane Q. Salley, 21, was arrested after police said he grabbed a $275 Dooney & Bourke purse about 12:30 p.m., ran from mall security at Macy’s, then led State College police on a 10-minute foot chase on foot on East College Avenue and Commercial Boulevard.
A second man who was seen on videotape with Salley, cutting security tags off items in Macy’s and stuffing the items in their shirts, was sent a summons for retail theft and receiving stolen property.
Salley now faces five misdemeanors: retail theft, receiving stolen property, escape, flight to avoid apprehension, trial or punishment and disorderly conduct. District Judge Leslie Dutchcot sent him to Centre County Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 straight bail Wednesday afternoon.
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Hours earlier, Salley had been in county court for a scheduled 11 a.m. preliminary hearing on a charge of receiving stolen property, relating to the alleged theft of a rental car.
But Assistant District Attorney Lance Marshall said he didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute Salley. So, Salley pleaded guilty to speeding and left.
“I know,” Marshall said of Salley’s arrest Wednesday afternoon. “I’m not happy about it. I mean, what can you do? I’m not happy about that at all.”
Marshall said he could not prosecute Salley on the felony because the company that owned the rental car didn’t send anyone to testify Wednesday that the car was stolen.
“They weren’t cooperative,” he said. “They didn’t show up. They knew about it, they repeatedly were asked to come to court, and they didn’t come to court.”
Without them, Marshall said he couldn’t prove the car was stolen.
“Hopefully we’ve had good luck with Macy’s coming to court,” he said. “I hope I get to prosecute them again.”
But at preliminary hearings, such witnesses often are not required to appear. Instead, a police officer’s hearsay testimony is accepted to establish, for example, that the rental car was stolen, according to a lawyer familiar with the court system.
District Attorney Michael Madeira admitted that is true.
Madeira said that Marshall will get an opportunity to prosecute Salley again when he goes through the court system on the new theft charges.
“It is disappointing that somebody thinks that a crime like that is a joke,” Madeira said. “When we can prove a case against somebody, we’re going to go after them.”
Sara Ganim can be reached at 231-4616.