A Florida man serving a 400-year sentence for armed robbery in 1988 was released Monday after a judge acquitted 57-year-old Sidney Holmes based on new findings that the case against him was “deeply flawed.”
Holmes, who had always maintained his innocence, could not hold back his tears after the review. “I will never lose hope,” he told reporters after his release from the main Broward County Jail in Fort Lauderdale. “I knew that this day would come sooner or later, and today is the day.”
The 50-year-old was convicted in 1988 because he was seen driving a brown Oldsmobile Cutlass from the 1970s, which, according to one of the victims, looked very similar to the one parked behind his brother’s car at a convenience store. This brother had to abandon his car shortly thereafter at gunpoint. The robbers had just got out of their Oldsmobile while the driver of the car that later escaped remained seated.
The kidnapped victims had described the driver of the getaway car – who prosecutors later said was Holmes – as “relatively small and heavy”.
The police soon turned to Holmes, who, in turn, was convicted as a driver in two armed robberies in 1984.
According to the victims, the getaway car, believed to be an Oldsmobile Cutlass, had a hole in the trunk where the lock was, they said. However, Holmes’ car has the trunk locked.
Holmes, who at the time had six people willing to testify that he was at his family’s home in South Florida at the time of the carjacking to celebrate Father’s Day, contacted the Attorney General’s Review Unit in 2020 to re-examine the case. He watches. During the review process, it emerged that Holmes’ car had a trunk lock and that the man was in his fifties at 6ft 8in and did not fit the description given to him by the carjacking victims.
The case investigators, as well as the review unit, also the NGO Florida Patent Project An independent review panel also found flaws in the witness identification process. The carjacking victim, after reviewing a book of 250 potential suspects, did not identify any of them, and did not single out Holmes through a lineup of six photos.
Holmes wants to put this case behind him as quickly as possible. “I can’t hate,” he said outside the courtroom. “I have to go on.”
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