After 34 Years Behind Bars, Innocent Man Exonerated And Released From Prison- This Monday, prosecutors dropped their case against the wrongfully convicted man, and he was freed from a Florida jail after serving more than 34 years of a 400-year sentence for an armed robbery.
According to a statement from the Innocence Project of Florida, who worked on his case, Sidney Holmes, now 57, stated when he learned he would be freed, “I never lost hope and always felt this day would come. I’m eager to give my mother her first hug in the free world in more than 34 years.
In November 2020, Holmes contacted the Broward County state attorney’s office’s conviction review unit and claimed he was not responsible for the 1988 crime, according to the office.
According to the state attorney’s office, Holmes was detained in October 1988 in connection with the June 1988 armed robbery of two people outside a convenience store in unincorporated Broward County, just west of Fort Lauderdale.
According to the state attorney’s office, he was accused of being the driver for two unnamed men who carried out the heist. A jury found him guilty in April 1989, and the following month, he was sentenced.
Reexamining Holmes’ case was begun by the review unit and the Innocence Project of Florida, and the results “raised reasonable questions about his guilt,” the official claimed.
According to the Innocence Project of Florida, Holmes was made a suspect due to “a peculiar collection of circumstances”: One of the two victims identified the getaway car as a brown Oldsmobile Cutlass with a hole in the trunk and a tan top.
The victim’s brother observed a brown Cutlass traveling down a road several weeks later and gave the license plate number to the police. The Innocence Project asserted that Holmes was the owner of that vehicle.
According to Holmes’ counsel, he had a valid alibi, and his car differed noticeably from the one used by the criminals.
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According to the Innocence Project, “there was no physical or scientific evidence, nor any corroborating witnesses, linking Mr. Holmes to the crime. Despite not being recognized in the first photo lineup, Holmes was recognized by one of the victims in the second lineup, according to the lawyers’ statement.
During a recent review of the case, prosecutors “found that Holmes had a plausible claim of innocence due to how he was identified as a suspect and due to the shaky eyewitness identification that was the primary evidence against him at trial,” according to the state attorney’s office.
The conviction review unit stated in its final memorandum on the case that the Broward state attorney’s office would not have charged Holmes if the case had been brought today.
According to the state attorney’s office, prosecutors dropped the case after a court on Monday granted the state attorney’s office and the Innocence Project’s motion to overturn Holmes’ sentence and conviction.
In an emotional embrace, Holmes’ mother and family greeted him as he exited a Broward County jail that afternoon.
“I never lost hope and always knew this day would come,” Sidney Holmes, now 57, said when he learned he would walk free. https://t.co/sqVhgZF9GG
— CNN (@CNN) March 16, 2023
Broward County State Attorney Harold F. Pryor stated, “We have one rule here at the Broward state attorney’s office – do the right thing, always,” adding that he appreciated the “candor and support” of the victims, witnesses, and officers in the reinvestigation of the murder.
Co-counsel for Holmes and executive director of the Innocence Project of Florida, Seth Miller, complimented Pryor and the conviction review unit for “giving Sidney his life back” and “looking objectively at old cases.”