A Missouri man spent about 17 years in prison for robbery until a convict who looked similar to him was discovered. Officials then tossed out the conviction because the other man looked so much like him.
“This has been one of the most bizarre scenarios that I’ve seen in my 27 years of prosecuting cases,” Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said.
He then dismissed charges against Richard Anthony Jones, reported the Kansas City Star. He will not retry Jones.
Jones had always denied committing the crime, the report said. There was no evidence, fingerprints, or other kinds of evidence that linked him to the robbery. Prosecutors used eyewitnesses to obtain a conviction against him.
Jones, 41, served a 19-year prison term for the robbery in 1999. He told other inmates that another inmate looked very similar to him and had the same first name, Richard, as him, it was reported. He also lived near where the man lived.
Jones never met the man, but the lawyers gave the information to relevant officials to investigate the case. The came to the conclusion that Jones was innocent.
“We were floored by how much they looked alike,” Jones’ lawyer Alice Craig said about seeing his photo alongside the photo of another man known as “Ricky.” It’s not clear what the man was locked up for. The New York Post reported that the other suspect’s name is Ricky Amos, and he used to live with his mother in Kansas City, Kansas, while Jones lived close by across the state line in Kansas City, Missouri.
He contacted the Midwest Innocence Project and the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project at the University of Kansas where Craig, the attorney, works before his freedom came about.
“When I saw that picture, it made sense to me,” said Jones to the Star. “Either you’re going to think [we’re] the same person, or you’re going to be like, ‘Man, these guys, they look so much alike.’ ”
Two photos of Jones and Amos were shown to the victim, two witnesses, and the prosecutor. Four said they couldn’t tell the two apart.
In the crime, Jones was accused of mugging a woman in a Walmart parking lot. But, he said, “All my appeals had been denied. It has been a rough ride.”
His lawyers also argued that police identity procedures 17 years ago were flawed, reported the BBC.
“Everybody has a doppelganger,” Craig said, per the Post. “Luckily, we found his.”