After spending over thirty years in prison, an innocent man who had been sentenced to 400 years has been exonerated.
Sidney Holmes, who is now 57 years old, was found guilty in 1988 for an armed robbery incident, as he was seen driving a car that resembled the one used during the carjacking.
Holmes was charged with serving as the driver for two unknown individuals who had held a man and woman at gunpoint outside a store in Florida, robbing them and stealing their vehicle.
In April of 1989, he was given a 400-year prison sentence and was subsequently held at the Broward County Main Jail in Florida until his recent release this week.
Although he spent over half of his life imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, Holmes is unwilling to harbor resentment in his heart.
“With the Christian faith I have, I can’t have hate,” Holmes said. “Just have to keep moving.”
In 2020, Holmes wrote to the State Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit, asserting his “factual innocence,” and the case was subsequently reviewed.
According to Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor, a reinvestigation conducted by the Conviction Review Unit of his office led to the emergence of reasonable doubts regarding his guilt.
The key evidence presented at the trial, which was the precarious eyewitness identification, raised doubts about the case.
During the reinvestigation carried out by the CRU, it was discovered that there was no evidence linking Holmes to the robbery, except for 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.”
Seth Miller, who serves as both co-counsel for Holmes and Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida, stated that,
“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.”