A man who spent 17 years behind bars for a crime he has always said he didn’t commit is now free after a case of mistaken identity.
The conviction of Richard Jones, 41, has been overturned after the Midwest Innocence Project and the University of Kansas School of Law helped uncover what is now believed to be a wrongful conviction due to eyewitness misidentification.
“I hope and prayed every day for this day to come, and when it finally got here it was an overwhelming feeling,” Jones said in an interview with ABC News’ “Good Morning America.”
Jones was charged with aggravated robbery in Kansas City, Kansas, nearly 20 years ago after being accused of trying to steal a purse in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Roeland Park, Kansas. Jones had an alibi and no physical evidence, DNA or fingerprints ever linked him to the crime — only two eyewitness identifications.
At the time, the witnesses told police that the suspect was either a light-skinned Hispanic or African-American man. Jones’ photo was picked out of six mug shots by Tamara Scherer, the victim of the robbery, and Ronald Cohen, a security guard at the Walmart at the time of the robbery, according to a memorandum provided to ABC News by Alice Craig, Jones’ attorney and professor at University of Kansas’ Project for Innocence.
Those eyewitness testimonies ultimately landed him behind bars at the Lansing Correctional Facility in Lansing, Kansas.
The Kansas City Police and the Kansas Department of Corrections have not yet responded to ABC News’ request for comment.
According to Jones’ profile on the Kansas Criminal Justice Information System, he was released as of June 8 in Johnson County.
Jones, who adamantly maintained his innocence since his arrest 17 years ago, had tried unsuccessfully for 15 years to appeal his conviction, until he teamed up with the Midwest Innocence Project and the Project for Innocence at the University of Kansas School of Law. Jones said he told his attorneys that he had…