An innocent Kansas dad freed from jail after serving 17 years for a robbery he didn’t commit is set to get $1.1million in compensation after supporters argued a doppelganger with a similar name could have been to blame.
Richard Anthony Jones, 42, was jailed in 1999 for the robbery in the parking lot of a Walmart in Roeland Park, Kansas, based on an eyewitness account.
He was freed last year when a judge ordered his release after supporters found evidence that another man, Ricky Amos, who looked just like him lived near the Walmart.
An attorney on the case said: “Everybody has a doppelgänger. Luckily we found his.”
No physical, DNA or fingerprint evidence that tied him to the crime and Jones, who always maintained his innocence and said he was at his girlfriend’s house at the time.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said: ‘We are committed to faithfully administering the new mistaken-conviction statute the legislature enacted.
“In this case, it was possible on the existing record to resolve all issues quickly, satisfy all of the statute’s requirements, and agree to this outcome so Mr. Jones can receive the benefits to which he is entitled by law because he was mistakenly convicted.”
Tricia Bushnell, the executive director of the Midwest Innocence Project, which helped represent Jones, said: ‘We are absolutely very happy by the result.
“This is why we’ve all worked so hard to get compensation in the state of Kansas. This will allow Richard to start to rebuild his life after the years that were taken, and that means a lot.”
Amos said at the hearing that he did not commit the robbery and the statute of limitations on the crime has passed which means he cannot be prosecuted.
His defence team presented the other man at a June 2017 hearing and after the victim and witnesses withdrew their identification of Jones, Johnson County District Judge Kevin Moriarty ordered Jones’ release.
The lineup police had put forward to the victims 17 years ago was ‘highly suggestive’ Jones’s lawyers argued because he was the only who resembled the criminal they described.
Amos testified at the hearing that he did not commit the robbery and while not saying he had committed the crime, Moriarty found that no reasonable juror would have convicted Jones.
Under the settlement, Jones was granted a certificate of innocence and will receive counseling and health care through the state for two years. The settlement requires final approval by a state council.
Schmidt said Jones is the first person to agree to a settlement payout under a new state law that provides compensation to people who are wrongly imprisoned. Two other mistaken conviction lawsuits are pending in Kansas.