For 17 years Richard Anthony Jones insisted he was falsely imprisoned man but no one believed him.
Even though there were no fingerprints, DNA evidence and he presented a solid alibi at his trial, Jones was convicted in 1999 for snatching a woman’s purse in a Roeland, Kan., Wal Mart parking lot and sentenced to 19 years in prison based solely on eyewitness accounts. Jones argued that he was the only light-skinned man in a series of photo lineups presented to witnesses. The Kansas City Star reports that Jones became the main suspect after a man who was admittedly high during the incident picked Jones out of a photo lineup three months after the crime.
After Jones eventually exhausted all of his appeals, fellow inmates told Jones that there was another prisoner who was his doppelganger. Jones’ attorneys searched for the lookalike and discovered that the man was a carbon copy of Jones. The dead ringer also lived in the area where the crime was committed.
His name was also Richard “Ricky” Amos.
In June 2017, after the Midwest Innocence Project secured another hearing for Jones under Kansas’ “manifest injustice” provision,
District Judge Kevin Moriarty ordered Jones to be released from prison and local prosecutors decided not to retry the case.
Now Jones has filed a lawsuit seeking $1,117,466 from the State of Kansas. The complaint asks for $65,000 for each year of his incarceration, plus lawyers fees and costs, according to the Star.
“It is hard to imagine how Mr. Jones can truly get a fresh start without the assistance sought, having lost so many years behind bars when he could have been getting an education, developing his skills, and pursuing and rising within his chosen profession,” said the complaint.
Many legal experts point at this case as a prime example of the unreliability of eyewitness testimony. Others say that this case is so rare and it ultimately shows that the appeal system works. But no one seems to ask one important question:
How the hell do you get nineteen years in prison for snatching a woman’s purse?
According to the Midwest Innocence Project, the man who robbed the victim was unarmed, and didn’t even get away with her purse. The victim snatched the purse back and the perpetrator only left with the woman’s cell phone.
Seventeen years later, Jones is now a free man. That’s justice... I guess.