Dothan, Alabama

From the Dothan Eagle of September 25, 2007

Charges dropped against grocery robbery suspect

The owner of a small, neighborhood grocery who was recently robbed says he’s confident the Dothan Police Department will find the man who stole his money.

Jay Enfinger, 77, who owns the Stough Street Grocery, said he hopes he does not get robbed again after authorities released a teenager arrested last week who had been charged with robbing his store.

“You have to watch everybody that comes in the door,” Enfinger said. “If it’s somebody you don’t know you have to pay more attention. You just stay alert all the time. You stay kind of worried it can happen anywhere anytime, and you just have to stay alert and hope the Lord will protect you.”

A man with a green bandanna covering his face robbed Enfinger at knifepoint on Sept. 18 around 10 a.m. Later that day police arrested 19-year-old Cordaryl Cornelius Berry and charged him with felony robbery of the store. He was jailed on a $50,000 bond.

Two days later, Houston County District Attorney Doug Valeska dismissed the charges against Berry after the police investigator approached him about the evidence in the case.

“A witness changed his story … wasn’t sure,” Valeska said. “The police did the right thing. When we prosecute people we want to be sure.”

Valeska said the police investigator contacted him and said he was not satisfied with the case based on the initial information obtained during the investigation.

“I personally drove the order to the jail … you know there’s overcrowding over there,” Valeska said. “I just didn’t want the kid to spend any more time in jail.”

Valeska said Dothan police are still investigating the robbery. The robbery became the third time in as many years someone attempted to steal from Enfinger’s community grocery. He has been robbed twice at his store and he thwarted a third attempt when he pulled a gun during the robbery.

“I feel like they are pretty sure he’s not the one, otherwise they’d have kept the charges,” Enfinger said. “I’d rather lose a little money since nobody got hurt rather than see an innocent person in jail.”

Enfinger, who has owned the store for 35 years, said he plans to protect himself if someone tries to rob him again. Last week, Enfinger attempted to shoot the man who robbed him, but his handgun misfired.

“I just have to try and stay in reach of my protection, sometimes people will make you do things you don’t want to do,” Enfinger said. “I think the police are doing a great job, but they can’t do it all by themselves. They need the community’s help.”

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