Sidney Holmes was wrongfully sentenced to jail for 400 years and exonerated after 34 years in prison.
Holmes, serving 400 years in prison for armed robbery, walked out of jail on Monday, March 13, after a judge vacated his sentence based on new findings that the case against him was fundamentally wrong.
Holmes spent over 34 years behind bars for a 1988 carjacking near Fort Lauderdale.
Holmes contacted the Broward State Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit in 2020, saying he was factually innocent.
Prosecutors now firmly believe he didn’t do it, citing a flawed focus on his vehicle, a witness identification process rife with bias, and a solid alibi.
“The State Attorney’s Office would not charge him today based on these facts,” the Broward County prosecutor’s office said in a statement Monday.
After his release, Holmes told reporters, “I never would give up hope,” “I knew this day would come sooner or later, and today is the day.”
Broward County State Attorney Harold F. Pryor applauded those who participated in reinvestigating the case and stated, “We have one rule here at the Broward State Attorney’s Office — do the right thing, always.”
Holmes’ plight began in the summer of 1988 when a man spotted him behind the wheel of a brown 1970s-era Oldsmobile Cutlass in South Florida.
Three weeks earlier, the man’s brother and a woman were robbed by people in a similar vehicle, according to the Conviction Review Unit’s final memo on the case, which county prosecutors provided.
The man told his brother, the victim, about the car, and the victim told the police. Police quickly zeroed in on Holmes, who had been convicted for his role as the driver in two armed robberies in 1984, according to the memo.
In the June 19, 1988, robbery, the victim said an Oldsmobile stopped behind his car outside a convenience store, and two people approached and took it at gunpoint, the review said. He said a driver stayed behind the wheel of the suspects’ car.