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Wrongfully convicted Sidney Holmes freed after serving 34 years of 400-year attempted robbery sentence

A Florida man has been exonerated after spending more than three decades of his 400-year sentence in prison for a 1988 attempted robbery that he never committed, officials said.

Holmes, of Lauderhill, Florida, was exonerated after a review board re-examined the facts of his case and determined he was “very likely” misidentified, officials announced Tuesday. He spent 34 years in jail before he was released.

“I always believed that this day would come, and I never lost hope. I am looking forward to embracing my mother in the outside world for the first time in more than 34 years.”

said Sidney Holmes, now 57, as per a statement from the Innocence Project of Florida, which helped with his case.

On Monday, he was released from prison in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, following a reinvestigation of the June 19, 1988, robbery in which he was accused of being the getaway driver.

He was linked to the crime because his brown Oldsmobile Cutlass was similar to the description of the vehicle driven by the suspect, the Innocence Project said.

Despite Holmes’ alibi and the differences between his vehicle and the one seen at the scene, Holmes became a suspect. He was subsequently identified in a second photo line-up — even though he was overlooked in the first array of images.

“There was no physical or scientific evidence, nor any corroborating witnesses, linking Mr. Holmes to the crime,” the Innocence Project wrote in a press release.

The Broward County State Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Review Unit (CRU) began investigating the circumstances of Holmes’ conviction in November 2020 and encountered several inconsistencies in the evidence leading to his conviction.

Holmes was freed of his charges and released after five of six independent panellists voted in favour of his innocence. Even the victims in the case believed he should be freed, and deputies involved in the original investigation were in disbelief over the fact that he served over three decades in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

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Written by Jamil Johnson