This is the moment a tearful mother hugged her exonerated son, who was found not guilty 34 years after a 400-year prison sentence.
Sidney Holmes, 57, was convicted in April 1989 and is being held at the Broward County, Florida Main Jail until his release Monday.
He found himself linked to an armed robbery after he was seen driving a vehicle similar to the one used in a gunpoint carjacking weeks earlier.
But since contacting the State’s Attorney’s Office Sentence Review Unit to say he was ‘factually innocent’ in 2020, prosecutors Now they believe that he was not responsible for the crime.
Upon his release, Holmes said he doesn’t hold grudges: “I can’t have hate,” he said. ‘I just have to keep moving.’
Sidney Holmes, 57, cries after being acquitted in a Broward County court on Monday.
Freed Sidney Holmes cried when told he had been exonerated for a crime in 1988
He was seen looking down when he heard that his 400-year sentence would be withdrawn.
Video captures the moment Sidney Holmes left the court and hugged his mother
Holmes was arrested after he was seen driving a brown Oldsmobile Cutlass in South Florida in the summer of 1988.
Three weeks earlier, the witness’s brother was robbed by people driving a similar car.
The car stopped behind the victim’s car, when two people got out and held the car at gunpoint.
A driver, not matching Holmes’s description, was seen to remain in the car.
Holmes had been convicted for his role as a driver in two armed robberies in 1984, and police were pursuing him as a suspect.
This was despite recorded differences between Holmes’ car and the one used in the robbery.
Six people were willing to testify that Holmes had been at his parents’ house that day.
The victim also did not initially identify Holmes as the driver of a row of six photos.
In a later photo lineup, the victim chose Holmes. According to reports, he was included in various lineups until he was identified.
The woman accompanying the victim was also unable to identify Holmes as the driver.
Nonetheless, Holmes was indicted and received a 400-year sentence.
Prosecutors initially asked for 825 years because of previous convictions for armed robbery in 1984.
Prosecutor Peter Magrino said at the time: “The reason for my recommendation and extremely high number of years is to ensure that you will not be released from prison while you are breathing.”
He said he did not ask for a life sentence as Holmes would have been eligible for parole after 25 years.
They also cited the fact that he had not named the men who held up the car at gunpoint as justification for the longer sentence.
Holmes was finally convicted in a jury trial in April 1989.
The Broward State Attorney’s Office concluded that “there is no evidence linking Holmes to the robbery.”
The Conviction Review Unit found that the witness identification was likely a ‘misidentification’, due in part to unreliable line-up practices at the time.
Both victims also testified last year that they believed Holmes should be released.
Holmes, now 57, is interviewed by reporters as he leaves court following the decision.
Sidney Holmes is shown smiling after the decision to exonerate him for a crime he probably did not commit in 1988.
Mugshot shows exonerated man Sidney Holmes, who was sentenced to 400 years in 1989
While those exonerated are supposed to receive $50,000 per year of wrongful imprisonment, only ten of 84 statewide have been compensated, claims the Florida Innocence Project.
On August 23, 2021, Tony Hopps was released from the Hardee Correctional Institution in Bowling Green, Florida.
He had been incarcerated for 31 years before CRU lead counsel Teresa Hall determined the state could no longer uphold his convictions for armed robbery and armed robbery of an elderly couple in 1990.
Regarded as wrongfully imprisoned, Mr. Hopps was reported to have wept and said, “I’ve tried to get people to listen to me all these years and finally Teresa Hall of the State’s Attorney’s Office took my case seriously.”