A Florida man who was serving a 400-year sentence for armed robbery was released from prison on Monday, March 13, after the judge annulled the verdict due to fresh evidence indicating the prosecution’s case was seriously defective.
Sidney Holmes, 57, was imprisoned for more than 34 years for a carjacking that occurred in 1988 close to Fort Lauderdale.
Holmes approached the Conviction Review Section of the Broward State Attorney’s Office in 2020 and claimed he was in fact innocent. It started everything off.
Due to a biased witness identification process, a misguided focus on the defendant’s vehicle, and a strong alibi, the prosecution is now adamant that the defendant did not commit the crime.
According on these circumstances, “the State Attorney’s Office would not charge him today,” according to a statement released on Monday by the Broward County prosecutor’s office.
Holmes hugged his mother outside the Broward County Main Prison after being let go.
Holmes told reporters, “I never would give up hope. “This is the day I knew would arrive sooner or later,” the speaker said.
We have one rule here at the Broward State Attorney’s Office – do the right thing, always, said Broward County State Attorney Harold F. Pryor in a statement praising everyone who took part in the reinvestigation.
Holmes’ predicament started in the summer of 1988 when a man saw him driving an Oldsmobile Cutlass in South Florida that was brown and from the 1970s. According to the county prosecutors’ final brief on the case, which was given to the Conviction Review Unit, the man’s brother and a woman had been robbed three weeks previously by someone driving a car similar to that one.
The victim was told about the car by the victim’s brother, who then informed the police. According to the document, police instantly focused on Holmes, who had been sentenced for his part as the driver in two armed robberies in 1984.
In the heist on June 19, 1988, the victim said that an Oldsmobile stopped behind his vehicle outside of a convenience shop, and that two individuals then approached and grabbed it at gunpoint. The suspects’ vehicle continued to have a driver at the wheel, he claimed.
Both carjacking victims characterized the driver as being rather short and hefty. Afterwards, the accusers claimed that it was Holmes. Holmes was 183 pounds at the time and 6 feet tall.
The report stated that the car had a hole where the trunk lock should have been and was thought to be an Oldsmobile Cutlass from the 1970s. It claimed that Holmes’ automobile had a trunk lock.
From 1976 to 1983, the Oldsmobile Cutlass was frequently a best-seller in the United States, a historian at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum informed the case’s investigators.
He said that the victim’s brother had been the target of a related attempted robbery earlier in the day, and the document noted that the automobile was related.
The document stated that Holmes had six witnesses ready to attest that he was enjoying Father’s Day with his parents at their South Florida residence at the time of the incident.
The Conviction Review Unit, the Innocence Project of Florida, and an impartial review panel all discovered issues with the witness identification procedure when they reviewed the case.
They said that after viewing a book of 250 potential suspects and a six-photo lineup that featured Holmes, the victim was unable to name a culprit.
After that, according to the review, the victim chose Holmes from a different photo lineup, pointed to him in a live lineup of suspects, and identified him as the driver that day in court. According to the report, Holmes was the only individual who was repeatedly displayed to the victim.
According to the review unit, a modern specialist criticized the procedure and claimed that Holmes’ repeated appearances had polluted it.
The reviewers claimed that the woman in the automobile was unable to name any potential suspects.
Those participating in the reinvestigation and the evaluation came to the conclusion that there was no basis for prosecuting Holmes. According to the document, he cooperated with investigators because he believed in his innocence.
No evidence connects Holmes to the heist, according to the Broward State Attorney’s Office’s statement.
Because to Holmes’ prior convictions for armed robbery and his refusal to identify nonexistent co-conspirators, prosecutors requested 825 years in prison, according to reviews.
According to the document, the judge chose 400 years because he believed that 825 years was too long.
According to the document, Kenneth Smith, a sheriff’s deputy sent to the robbery, claimed that the amount of crime at the time made him hardly remember the case.
Smith expressed his amazement at learning of Holmes’ 400-year sentence by saying, “I’m in absolute disbelief. He acquired that for this instance?
According to the memo, both victims last year expressed to the unit their support for Holmes’ prison release.
Holmes claimed he has no ill will toward the people who arrested and tried him.
Holmes remarked, “I can’t have hate,” outside the prison. All I have to do is keep going.