After claiming his innocence for 17 years, Richard Anthony Jones heard rumors there was another prisoner who looked just like him.
Not only were they doppelgangers, but also Jones was told that he and the other man shared the same first name, reported The Miami Herald.
Jones never actually me the man, but he did pass on the information to lawyers that began looking into his case and came to the conclusion that Jones was indeed an innocent man.
On Wednesday, they made their case to a Johnson County judge, and on Thursday Jones walked free after serving nearly 17 years in prison for a 1999 robbery in Roeland Park, KS, said the Herald.
The lawyers also uncovered the other man lived near the area of where the crime occurred, while Jones lived across the state line in Kansas City, MO.
At Wednesday’s hearing in Johnson County District Court, witnesses, including the robbery victim, testified that looking at pictures of the two men together, they could no longer say if Jones was the perpetrator.
Johnson County District Judge Kevin Moriarty ordered Jones’ release after saying that based on the new evidence, no reasonable juror would have convicted Jones.
The other man also testified at Wednesday’s hearing and denied committing the robbery.
The Herald reported on the details of the robbery that put an innocent man behind bars:
There was no DNA, fingerprint or any other kind of physical evidence that linked Jones to the crime, only unreliable eyewitness testimony was used to convict the innocent man.
Jones became the focus of the investigation after his picture was picked out of a police database three months after the crime by a man who was admittedly on drugs during his only encounter with Jones, according to court documents filed by the defense.
The lineup of photos subsequently shown to the victim and other witnesses was “highly suggestive,” his lawyers argued. The picture of Jones was the only one of the six photographs in the lineup that resembled the description of the robbery suspect, they maintained.
At trial, Jones presented an alibi defense that he was with his girlfriend and other family members in Kansas City on the day of the robbery.
But the victim and another witness identified him as the robber and the jury found him guilty of aggravated robbery and he was sentenced to more than 19 years in prison.
He unsuccessfully appealed the conviction and sentence.
When the innocence project attorneys showed the the pictures of the two men to the victim, the 2 witnesses, and the prosecutor in Jones’ case,none of them could tell the 2 men apart.
“Richard Jones has presented sufficient evidence to meet the under of manifest injustice (under Kansas law),” his attorneys said in their motion seeking his release. “Mr. Jones was convicted solely on eyewitness testimony that has been proven to be inherently flawed and unreliable.”
“Everybody has a doppelganger,” Craig said. “Luckily we found his.”
If you want to help Jones get adjusted to life outside prison again, you can donate to a GoFundMe page that has been set up to help him.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)