Man 34 years into serving 400-year prison sentence is declared innocent

A man who was imprisoned for 400 years has been freed after being declared innocent, after serving 34 years of his sentence.

Sidney Holmes, 57, had been in Broward County Main Jail in Florida since April 1989 after being wrongfully convicted of carjacking at gunpoint.

He was arrested for the armed robbery after he was seen driving a brown Oldsmobile Cutlass similar to one used in the crime three weeks earlier.

The car had pulled up behind the victim's vehicle when two men got out and held them at gunpoint, while the driver - who didn't match Holmes's description - remained in the car.

Holmes had previously been convicted for his role as the driver in two armed robberies in 1984, and police pursued him as a suspect despite there having been registered differences between his car and the one which was used in the incident, which took place in 1988.

Six people testified that Holmes had an alibi of being at his parents' house on the day of the crime and the victim did not initially pick Holmes out of a line-up as being the driver, nor did the woman who was with the victim on the night of the incident.

Despite his alibi and inconsistencies with the vehicle used in the crime, Holmes was convicted at a jury trial in April 1989.

He was charged and given a 400-year sentence, with prosecutors initially asking for an even higher 825 years in light of his previous convictions.

Prosecutor Peter Magrino said at the time, via Daily Mail: "The reason for my recommendation and an exceedingly high number of years is to ensure that he won't be released from prison while he's breathing."

As justification for the long sentence, he said that Holmes had not named the other men who held up the car at gunpoint, and did not ask for a life sentence as that would mean eligibility for parole after 25 years.

After spending over three decades in jail, Holmes has finally been freed after being declared innocent of the crime.

He had contacted the State Attorney's Office Conviction Review Unit in 2020 to say he was "factually innocent", with the Broward State Attorney's Office concluding that "there is no evidence tying Holmes to the robbery."

The Conviction Review Unit also found that he was likely "misidentified" in subsequent photo line-ups and both victims have said they believe Holmes should be released.

For his part, Holmes has shown no anger at spending over 30 years of his life in prison for something he didn't do, saying after his release: "I can't have hate. Just have to keep moving."
Those who have been exonerated are meant to receive $50,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment - which means Holmes would be eligible for $1.7 million - but only 10 of 84 ex-prisoners in the state have been compensated, per the Innocence Project of Florida claims.

As well as Holmes, another former prisoner in Florida who was exonerated after over three decades is Tony Hopps, who was freed in August 2021 after serving 31 years.

He had been incarcerated for the armed burglary and armed robbery of an elderly couple in 1990, but his conviction was overturned.

Hopps cried upon his release, saying: "I have tried to get people to listen to me all these years and finally Teresa Hall from the State Attorney's Office took my case seriously."

Please don't forget to SHARE this with your friends and family.

Click here for Comments

0 commentaires :