Richard Jones (42) was behind bars for a robbery for 17 years. Only he did not, but a man who is very similar to him, committed it. Now he has reached a settlement of 1.1 million dollars from the state of Kansas.
Richard Jones was convicted in 1999 for a robbery against a woman at a parking lot of WalMart in Roeland Park, Kansas. There was no physical evidence that could link him to the crime: no DNA, no fingerprints, nothing. And he had an alibi. He was with his girlfriend in Kansas City at that time. Yet he went into the cell, because two witnesses had caught a glimpse of the perpetrator. They designated Jones as the culprit.
Years in prison passed. Until suddenly the unthinkable came to light. “You are very similar to Rick Amos,” a fellow prisoner told him. In the end Richard managed with help to track down a photograph of his ‘duper’ and then fight for his freedom. Last year he was finally released. Neither the victim nor the witnesses were able to say in court which of the two had just committed the robbery. The resemblance between the men was therefore striking. They are about the same age, have the same skin colour, the same body hair. The same ‘look’.
“I prayed every day that this day will be allowed to come”, Richard said after his release. “It is an overwhelming feeling that I am free again.”
Now he gets compensation from the state of Kansas. His criminal record has also been swept clean. “The double-gang case is one of the most bizarre scenarios I’ve seen in my 27-year career”, says public prosecutor Steve Howe. The lawyers of Jones call the settlement “necessary”. “So that he can close this painful chapter in his life.” The financial compensation, that’s how it sounds, “is relatively low, given the immeasurable misery of 17 years of improper imprisonment.”