Mistaken identity leads to $1.1M award settlement for innocent man who spent 17 years in prison [Report]

A man convicted of robbery who spent 17 years in prison will be the first person to receive compensation under a new law for those wrongfully imprisoned.

ABC News reports that Richard Anthony Jones, 42 (pictured left), was convicted in 2000 for a 1999 robbery and attack at a Walmart in Roeland Park, Kansas. Aman tried to steal a woman’s purse during the incident, and the female victim fell and scraped herself in the process, which classified the attack as an aggravated robbery.

Witnesses identified Jones, but according to the prosecutor on the case, John Cowles, Jones’ conviction was based “solely on eyewitness identification.” Witnesses described the attacker as a “light-skinned Hispanic or African-American man” with “long hair pulled back,” according to News4Jax.

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A license plate written down by a witness during the the time of the robbery led police to Jones’ residence.

No DNA or any other evidence placed Jones at the crime scene. Further, Jones had an airtight alibi on the night in question. Several guests at a birthday party testified that they saw Jones at the party with his girlfriend on the same night the robbery happened.

In 2017, with the help of the Midwest Innocence Project and the University of Kansas School of Law, Jones was released from prison after spending over a decade behind bars. The release came after witnesses, including the female victim, couldn’t tell Jones apart from Ricky Amos (pictured right), another inmate in the prison system.

Both Amos and Jones wore their hair in braided cornrows, have the same complexion, are close in age and had the same facial hair. Amos insisted that he had nothing to do with the robbery. Since the statute of limitations have passed, he will not be prosecuted in the case.

According to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Jones is the first person to receive compensation under the new “mistaken-conviction statute” that was approved earlier this year. Jones will also receive counseling, the option to participate in state health care over the next two years, a certification that certifies his innocence, and all records from the wrongful conviction expunged.

According to MSN, the courts will grant a total of $1,103,945 to the wrongfully-convicted man.

“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,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Wednesday.

Jones’ lawyer wrote that the compensation is “is relatively small given the unfathomable hardship of 17 years of wrongful imprisonment.”

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[Feature Photo: Richard Jones & Ricky Amos/Police Handout]