After serving 17 years in prison for a 1999 robbery, an innocent Kansas City man was freed when his lawyers found the nearly identical man who actually committed the crime.
Richard Anthony Jones repeatedly heard that another prisoner looked just like him and shared his first name, but he never met or saw the man. He did, however, notify his lawyers of the news, who dug into it and discovered that Jones was indeed innocent.
On Wednesday, they made their case to a judge, and on Friday Jones was released from jail. At the hearing, the lawyers told the judge of Jones’ doppelganger, whom they discovered lived near where the crime took place. They also showed photos of Jones and the lookalike to the the victims and witnesses, and they were unable to identify Jones as the robber.
“We were floored by how much they looked alike,” Jones’ attorney Alice Craig said.
Jones had been working with the Midwest Innocence Project and the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project at the University of Kansas for the past two years in order to gain his freedom. Their investigation suggested that the other man had been picked up at a drug house and taken to the Walmart where the robbery occurred. Additionally, no DNA evidence linked Jones to the crime, and he was convicted solely on eyewitness testimony.
Jones had originally been sentenced to 19 years in prison after he was chosen out of a police database and his photo was shown to victims and witnesses, despite his having an alibi. He had already unsuccessfully appealed his conviction and sentence.
“Everybody has a doppelgänger,” Craig said. “Luckily we found his.”