A Florida man has been exonerated after spending more than three decades of his 400-year sentence in prison for a 1988 attempted robbery that he never committed, officials said.
Sidney Holmes was a free man on Monday after serving 34 years of his centuries-long sentence despite flimsy, inconsistent evidence, the Innocence Project of Florida announced earlier this week.
Emotional video shows Holmes, now 57, walking to his freedom — and into the arms of eager loved ones.
Holmes told Local 10 News he knew the day would come “sooner or later.”
“And today is the day,” he added. “I can’t put it into words … it’s overwhelming.”
Sidney Holmes on March 13, 2023, after being freed from a 400-year prison sentence related to a wrongful attempted robbery conviction.Innocence Project of Florida
Holmes was accused in 1988 and later convicted of an armed robbery at a Broward County gas station involving two victims.
He was linked to the crime because his brown Oldsmobile Cutlass was similar to the description of the vehicle driven by the suspect, the Innocence Project said.
Despite Holmes’ alibi and the differences between his vehicle and the one seen at the scene, Holmes became a suspect. He was subsequently identified in a second photo line-up — even though he was overlooked in the first array of images.
Holmes celebrates after being freed from his 400-year sentence over a 1988 attempted robbery at a Broward County gas station.Innocence Project of Florida
Sidney Holmes (center-red shirt) has been freed from a 400-year prison sentence related to a wrongful conviction, March 13, 2023.Innocence Project of Florida
“There was no physical or scientific evidence, nor any corroborating witnesses, linking Mr. Holmes to the crime,” the Innocence Project wrote in a press release.
The Broward County State Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Review Unit (CRU) began investigating the circumstances of Holmes’ conviction in November 2020 and encountered several inconsistencies in the evidence leading to his conviction.
Investigators at the time based their decision to arrest Holmes on a single witness’s positive identification, the Innocence Project said.
CRU also pointed to “the inconsistencies in the descriptions of the perpetrator and Mr. Holmes’ appearance, the inconsistencies between the perpetrator’s vehicle and Mr. Holmes’ vehicle and the overall consistency of his alibi witnesses.”
Investigators ultimately concluded that “the totality of this evidence suggested that Mr. Holmes was a victim of eyewitness misidentification and was likely innocent.”
Sidney Holmes with a loved one after being freed from a 400-year prison sentence related to a wrongful conviction, March 13, 2023.