When he was first arrested, Richard Anthony Jones vehemently denied ever committing the crime. But the police refused to listen to his side of the story. And then he began hearing something strange. Person after person began telling Jones that there was another prison who looked just like him – and they shared the same first name. It was the perfect crime. Commit it and then blame the doppelganger. But innocent Jones had no one who believed him, until a group of lawyers decided to do some digging…
It took years, but eventually, a group of lawyers decided to listen to Jones’s strange tale. He provided them all the information he knew about his doppelganger and then they got to work. After digging deep into the case, the lawyers discovered something strange. Jones was telling the truth.
On Wednesday, the lawyers made their case to the Johnson County judge and one day later Jones walked free after he spent 17 years in prison for a robbery in Roeland Park he never committed.
Not only did Jones and his doppelganger look the same, but they shared the same name. Then they learned that the doppelganger lived near the scene of the crime. Jones, on the other hand, lived across the state line in Kansas City.
In court, witnesses including the robbery victim testified that after looking at the photos of both men they could no longer say for certain that Jones was the criminal.
Based on the new evidence, Johnson County District Judge Kevin Moriarty set Jones free.
On Wednesday, the other man testified at the hearing and denied that he committed the robbery.
“We were floored by how much they looked alike,” Jones’ attorney Alice Craig said when they first saw the images of the other man named “Ricky.”
Besides the eyewitness report, no other evidence linked Jones to the crime. There was no DNA, fingerprints or anything that proved he was at the scene.
Jones was freed because he contacted the Midwest Innocence Project and the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project at the University of Kansas, where Craig practices law. Although it took two years for Jones to be freed, it was a long time coming.
Jones became the prime suspect after his picture was picked out of a police database months after the crime. The victim had been under the influence of drugs, at his own admission, and had only one encounter with the robber.
Lawyers argued that the way Jones’s photo was shown to the witnesses and victims was “highly suggestive.” Jones’s image was the only one in the lineup who remotely resembled the description of the suspect.
Jones presented his alibi defense that he was with his family and girlfriend in Kansas City on the day of the robbery. Nevertheless, he was found guilty and sentenced to more than 19 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit.
“Richard Jones has presented sufficient evidence to meet the under of manifest injustice (under Kansas law),” his attorneys said in their motion seeking his release. “Mr. Jones was convicted solely on eyewitness testimony that has been proven to be inherently flawed and unreliable.”
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