Man Serving 400 Years In Jail Is Exonerated And Freed After 34 Years (Photo)

 Man Serving 400 Years In Jail Is Exonerated And Freed After 34 Years

A man who had served 34 years out of a 400-year jail sentence for a crime he didn’t commit was exonerated.

On March 13, the Florida man walked out of jail after a judge vacated his sentence based on new findings that showed the case against him was deeply flawed. He had been convicted for armed robbery back in 2001 and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

In 2019, Sidney Holmes contacted the Broward State Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit to say he was factually innocent. That got the ball rolling for an investigation which exonerated him three years later.

Prosecutors now believe he did not commit the crime, citing an investigation focusing too heavily on his vehicle, a witness identification process plagued by bias and an alibi that was solid.

In its statement Monday, the State Attorney's Office said that it would not pursue charges against George Zimmerman for Martin’s death, citing insufficient evidence.

After his release, Holmes hugged his mother outside the Broward County Main Jail.

“I never would give up hope,” Holmes told reporters. “I knew this day was going to come sooner or later, and today is the day.”

Broward County State Attorney Harold F. Pryor praised those who participated in reinvestigating the case and said in the statement, “We have one rule here at the Broward State Attorney’s Office — do the right thing, always.”

Holmes’ plight began in summer 1988 when a man spotted him behind the wheel of a brown 1970s-era Oldsmobile Cutlass in South Florida. Three weeks earlier, the man’s brother and a woman were robbed by people in a similar vehicle, according to the Conviction Review Unit’s final memo on the case, which was provided by county prosecutors.

The man told his brother, the victim, about the car, and the victim told police. Police quickly zeroed in on Holmes, who had been convicted for his role as the driver in two armed robberies in 1984, according to the memo.

In the June 19, 1988, robbery, the victim said an Oldsmobile stopped behind his car outside a convenience store and two people approached and took it at gunpoint, the review said. A driver stayed behind the wheel of the suspects’ car, he said.

The carjacking victims both described the person behind the wheel as relatively short and heavy. Prosecutors later said the person was Holmes. But Holmes was 6 feet, 183 pounds at the time.

According to the memo, a witness described the vehicle as having "a hole where its trunk lock would have been—similar to [Holmes'] car."

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