An innocent man who was given a 400-year prison sentence has been exonerated after serving more than three decades behind bars.
Sidney Holmes, 57, was convicted in a 1988 armed robbery case after he was seen driving a car similar to one used in a carjacking.
Holmes was convicted of being the driver for two unidentified men who robbed a man and woman at gunpoint outside a store in Florida. The men also took the victims’ car.
In April 1989, he was sentenced to 400-years in prison and since then had been held at the Broward County Main Jail, Florida, until his release earlier this week.
Despite spending more than half his life in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, Holmes refuses to live with hate in his heart.
"With the Christian faith I have, I can't have hate," Holmes said. “Just have to keep moving.”
The case was examined when Holmes wrote to the State Attorney's Office Conviction Review Unit in 2020 and said he was ‘factually innocent’.
A reinvestigation by Broward State Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit raised reasonable doubts about his guilt, Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor said.
Doubts were cast due to the ‘precarious eyewitness identification’ that was the key evidence given at trial.
The CRU reinvestigation found there was ‘no evidence tying Holmes to the robbery, other than the flawed identification of him as a suspect’.
In a statement, Pryor said: “We have one rule here at the Broward State Attorney’s Office – do the right thing, always. As prosecutors, our only agenda is to promote public safety in our community and to ensure that justice is served.
"I commend the victims, witnesses, and law enforcement officers for their candor and assistance in re-investigating a crime that occurred more than 34 years ago."
Executive Director of Innocence Project of Florida Seth Miller, who is also co-counsel for Holmes, said: “We are so thrilled our colleagues at the Broward Conviction Review Unit chose to collaboratively investigate Mr. Holmes’ case and saw significant issues with the evidence that we identified when we first looked into this case.
"It is a credit to State Attorney Pryor’s leadership that his office can look objectively at old cases and come to a decision that a miscarriage of justice has occurred when the evidence supports that conclusion.
"We are thankful to State Attorney Pryor and the entire Broward Conviction Review Unit team for giving Sidney his life back.”