A man who served more than three decades of a 400-year prison sentence for armed robbery charges was freed Monday after being exonerated. Sidney Holmes, 57, was convicted in April of 1989 for a 1988 robbery in which he was accused of being the getaway driver.
Holmes was greeted by his family as he walked free Monday, and said the first thing he wanted to do was get something to eat, CBS Miami reported.
“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,” Broward State Attorney Harold F. Pryor said in a statement. “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.”
Holmes had been convicted of acting as the getaway driver for two men who robbed two people at gunpoint and stole one of the victim’s car just west of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on June 19, 1988, according to the state attorney’s office. The two robbers remain unidentified.
Holmes contacted the State Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit (CRU) in 2020 and told investigators he was innocent. The CRU then determined that Holmes had a plausible claim of innocence.
During CRU’s review of Holmes’ case, it determined eyewitness identification of Holmes during the initial investigation was likely incorrect and that there was no evidence connecting Holmes to the robbery outside of the flawed identification.
An investigation launched by the brother of one of the victims also found that Holmes’ car was likely misidentified at the time and that key differences between his Oldsmobile and the one used by the robbers were overlooked, Pryor said.
Based on the review, five of six independent panelists voted that Holmes was innocent and his conviction should be thrown out immediately.
The victims in the case both said they thought Holmes should be released. Deputies involved in the original investigation were also shocked Holmes served 34 years in prison and had been sentenced to 400 years.
The nonprofit OIC of South Florida is set to help Holmes with reintegration services along with job training and placement.
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