A Florida man who served over three decades of a 400-year prison sentence for armed robbery was released Monday after the state reinvestigated the case and exonerated him.
“I never would give up hope,” Sidney Holmes said, according to NBC Miami. “I knew this day was going to come sooner or later, and today is the day.”
According to the state attorney’s office, Holmes, now 57, was convicted of acting as the getaway driver for two men who robbed two others at gunpoint and stole one of the victims’ cars on June 19, 1988, near Fort Lauderdale.
In 2020, Holmes contacted the State Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit (CRU) and informed investigators that he was innocent. The CRU then determined that Holmes’ claim of innocence was plausible.
After reviewing Holmes’ case, CRU concluded that the initial investigation’s eyewitness identification of Holmes was likely incorrect and that there was no other evidence linking him to the robbery. The two men that committed the theft remain unknown.
According to Broward County State Attorney Harold F. Pryor, an inquiry by the brother of one of the victims also revealed that Holmes’ Oldsmobile was probably mistakenly recognized at the time and that significant distinctions between it and the vehicle of those who committed the crime were disregarded.
Pryor praised the investigative team in a statement and said, “Our rule is to do the right thing, always.”
Last year, both victims told CRU they believed Holmes should be released from prison. Holmes said he is not holding a grudge against those who arrested and prosecuted him.
“With the Christian faith I have, I can’t have hate,” Holmes said. “Just have to keep moving.”