One man in Florida who has spent a staggering 34 years in prison for a crime he did not commit has just recently been released in the wake of prosecutors fully dismissing all charges slated against him.
Now 57 years old, Sidney Holmes was convicted for an alleged role in a 1988 armed robbery and sentenced to a shocking 400 years in prison. But this past week, he was officially released from prison.
“I never lost hope and always knew this day would come,” stated Holmes directly after learning that he would finally be released, as stated in a release made public by the Innocence Project of Florida. “I cannot wait to hug my mother in the free world for the first time in over 34 years.”
Holmes was officially convicted of playing the role of a getaway driver for an armed robbery that took place back in 1988 against a convenience store located right outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but in November 2020, however, he reached out the conviction review unit of the Broward County state attorney’s office in order to request they open back up and look into his case. This review unit, working alongside the Innocence Project, took time to look into the Holmes case and discovered “reasonable doubts about his guilt,” explained the state attorney’s office in a release.
One of the two victims from the aforementioned armed robbery testified that the getaway vehicle was a brown Oldsmobile Cutlass with a tan roof and a hole in the trunk, explained a report from CNN. After just a few weeks, the victim’s brother spotted a brown Cutlass on the road and sent in the license plate number to police forces, which ended up being registered to Holmes. Despite the fact that Holmes had a strong alibi and his car has a large number of key differences from the one outlined by the victim, he ended up being arrested and subsequently charged with the crime.
“There was no physical or scientific evidence, nor any corroborating witnesses, linking Mr. Holmes to the crime,” exclaimed the Innocence Project.
One of the victims was able to guess Holmes out of a lineup after being given a second chance in the wake of failing to identify him during the first lineup.
The attorney’s office for the state wrote in its press release that prosecutors “determined that Holmes had a plausible claim of innocence because of how he became a suspect and because of the precarious eyewitness identification that was the principal evidence against him at trial.” the office stated that it “would not charge him today based on these facts.”
This past week, a judge approved a recent request coming from the Innocence Project and the office to vacate both Holmes’ sentence and conviction. Prosecutors also fully dismissed the charge and Holmes ended up being released from prison the very same day.