Sidney Holmes: Florida man serving 400-year sentence freed after exoneration

New investigation finds Holmes 'factually innocent' of role in 1980s armed robbery

Law enforcement agents stand in front of the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. EPA
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A man in Florida who was serving a 400-year state prison sentence for his role in a 1988 armed robbery has been released after a new investigation led to his exoneration.

Sidney Holmes, now 57, served more than 34 years before he was released this week.

His release followed a fresh investigation that came after he filed a statement “claiming he was factually innocent” of his role as a driver in the armed robbery of two people outside a Fort Lauderdale convenience store.

“Prosecutors with the Conviction Review Unit (CRU) determined that Holmes had a plausible claim of innocence because of how he became a suspect and because of the precarious eyewitness identification that was the principal evidence against him at trial,” Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor said in a statement.

The investigation found that Mr Holmes may have been misidentified by witnesses and police were using “unreliable” practices at the time.

Prosecutors also found that the initial probe in the 1980s involved the brother of one of the victims.

“There is no evidence tying Holmes to the robbery, other than the flawed identification of him as a suspect,” the team of investigators said.

“Both victims told the CRU reinvestigation they believe Holmes should be released from prison.”

Upon his conviction, prosecutors had asked for 825 years because Mr Holmes had previous convictions for armed robbery and because he refused to name nonexistent co-conspirators, case reviewers said.

The judge thought 825 years was excessive, so he went with 400.

Updated: March 17, 2023, 6:46 AM