A guy who had already spent more than 34 years of a 400-year sentence was freed when the state of Florida conducted a new investigation and found that he had not engaged in an armed robbery.
“I can’t put it into words,” said Sidney Holmes, now 57, in an interview with ABC affiliate WPLG after he was exonerated and freed on Monday. “It’s overwhelming.”
A comprehensive reexamination of the 1988 armed robbery case that resulted in Holmes’ conviction “raised reasonable concerns about his guilt,” according to Broward County State Attorney Harold F. Pryor.
I cannot have hatred because of my Christian religion, Holmes said. All I have to do is keep going.
According to Pryor, Holmes was detained in October 1988 for allegedly serving as the getaway driver for two unidentified individuals who held up a man and a woman outside a business before robbing them. The male victim’s automobile was taken by the two unidentified individuals.
When It Was Determined That He Was Guilty?
In April 1989, a jury found Holmes guilty and he was given a 400-year jail term. According to the CRU report, the court had been urged to sentence him to 825 years at the time by the prosecution.
According to the CRU, at the time, prosecutor Peter Magrino said, “The reason for my suggestion and an exceptionally high number of years is to guarantee that he won’t be freed from jail while he’s breathing. Moreover, he said that he did not request a life sentence because “Holmes would have been eligible for parole after 25 years back then,” according to the newspaper.
Due to Holmes’ prior conviction for two armed robberies that took place in August 1984, for which he pled guilty and “quickly confessed,” he was punished as a habitual offender.
The CRU report also points out that, in contrast to his earlier robbery conviction, when he made accusations against the other party involved, Holmes never claimed to know who the thieves were.
According to a statement from Pryor, Holmes contacted the State Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit (CRU) in 2020 and said he was “factually innocent” of the armed robbery of two persons outside of a convenience store.
Other than a faulty identification of him and the heist’s car, the CRU concluded that there is “no evidence” linking Holmes to the crime. The CRU determined that witness identification of Holmes was likely a “misidentification,” mainly owing to the picture and live lineup procedures frequently utilized by law enforcement at the time, which are “scientifically inaccurate,” according to the state attorney’s office.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office officers who conducted the first investigations, according to the state attorney’s office, “expressed disbelief” when they learned that Holmes had received a 400-year sentence and had already spent more than three decades.
“We have one rule here at the Broward State Attorney’s Office – do the right thing, always,” Pryor said in a statement. “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 reinvestigating a crime that occurred more than 34 years ago.”
The tweet below posted by The Florida Bar wrote” After Spending nearly 35 years …”
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