Constitutional Freedoms

Man Gets $1.1 Million After Serving 17 Years for a Crime He Never Committed

It was a Christmas miracle in Kansas last week

Image Credit: iStock

Imprisoned in 2000 for an aggravated robbery that he did not commit — a robbery committed by his doppelganger — Richard Anthony Jones was finally released in 2017.

As the year of 2018 winds down, this is surely one of the happiest stories for this man and his family — though nothing can make up for the lost time.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt revealed last week that the parties had agreed on a settlement of $1.1 million.

Though there was an absence of physical evidence, fingerprints, or DNA that tied Jones to the crime all those years ago, he was convicted of trying to steal a purse in a Walmart parking lot in Roeland Park, Kansas, back in 1999.

To make matters worse, Jones had an ironclad alibi.

He had attended a birthday party at that time, and multiple witnesses said so.

Yet he was misidentified by two witnesses to the robbery.

In addition to telling police that the suspect was either an African-American or a light-skinned Hispanic male, those witnesses picked Jones’ mug shot out of a total of six images they were shown — and misidentified him.

After spending almost two decades behind bars, Jones was finally released last year with the help of the Midwest Innocence Project and the University of Kansas School of Law.

“I hoped and prayed every day for this day to come, and when it finally got here it was an overwhelming feeling,” Jones told ABC News last year.

When the robbery victim and the witnesses could not tell him apart from another inmate — and lookalike — Ricky Amos, a judge ordered his release.

With a similar facial structure, skin tone, facial hair, and cornrows, the two men — amazingly — look almost exactly alike.

Jones’ lookalike denied being involved in the crime, and because the statue of limitations for the crime has expired, he will not be prosecuted.

The original prosecutor of the Jones case in 2000, John Cowles, revealed that the conviction was based exclusively on eyewitness identification.

“I realized that we had very unfortunately convicted the wrong man,” Cowles told ABC News. “We spoke at the hearing and he was appreciative and I wished him luck.”

One hopes the $1.1 million settlement will help Jones kickstart his new life.

Additionally, the newly freed man was also given counseling at no expense, a certificate of innocence, and the chance to participate in the state health care program for 2019 and 2020.

Rightfully so, the notice of his arrest and conviction have been wiped from his record, as per the office of the attorney general.

A mistaken conviction statute went into effect earlier this year in an effort to improve the criminal justice system — and Jones’ case was the first to be resolved under this new order.

The Kansas attorney general commented on his dedication to the new statute: “We are committed to faithfully administering the new mistaken-conviction statute the legislature enacted.”

Many other allegedly innocent convicts have filed wrongful conviction lawsuits as well.

The Kansas attorney general commented on his dedication to the new statute. “We are committed to faithfully administering the new mistaken-conviction statute the legislature enacted,” said Schmidt.

“In this case, it was possible on the existing record to resolve all issues quickly, satisfy all of the statute’s requirements, and agree to this outcome so Mr. Jones can receive the benefits to which he is entitled by law because he was mistakenly convicted.”

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