Man serving 400 years in jail freed as he’s found not guilty after 34 years

Man serving 400 years in jail freed as he’s found not guilty after 34 years

An exonerated Florida man who had been imprisoned for the previous 34 years left court in Fort Lauderdale on Monday.

In 1988, Sidney Holmes, then 57, was found guilty of an armed theft in the state’s Broward County and given a 400-year prison term. He was freed this week following a reexamination of his case by the state’s case Review Unit (CRU) and the Innocence Project of Florida.

The Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor issued a statement stating that Holmes was detained on October 6, 1988, found guilty following a jury trial in April 1989, and sentenced the following month. He was found guilty of driving two unidentified guys who held up a man and a woman outside a convenience shop before robbing them at gunpoint. The male victim’s car was taken by the two unidentified individuals.

This case was reviewed after Holmes contacted the CRU in November 2020 and asserted his innocence of the crime.

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According to the Miami Herald, Arielle Demby Berger, the assistant state attorney in charge of the CRU, told reporters on Monday that the only thing linking Mr. Holmes to the crime was a mistaken identification.

The findings of the CRU suggest that the identification of Holmes was probably a mistake, in part because of the photo and live lineup procedures that were frequently employed by law enforcement at the time.

Pryor, the CRU, and an independent review panel all separately came to the conclusion that Holmes was not guilty based on the facts they had considered, and that the State Attorney’s Office would not file charges against him today.

A release order for Holmes was authorized by Circuit Court Judge Edward Merrigan on Monday.

Following his release, Holmes told ABC affiliate WPLG, “I can’t put it into words. It’s too much to handle.

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