Driving An Oldsmobile In The 80s Is Not A Crime
In the summer of 1988, Anissia Johnson and Vincent Wright were robbed at gunpoint by two men. After the robbery, the robbers got into an Oldsmobile that quickly sped away. The driver of the Oldsmobile never got out of the car, and the victims did not see him from up close. Several weeks later, Vincent Wright’s brother Milton saw an Oldsmobile and wrote down the license plate number, since it was the same color as the one his brother had said was involved in the robbery. Based on this tip, police arrested Sidney Holmes, then 23 years old, since he owned the Oldsmobile that Milton Wright had seen.
Holmes cooperated with the investigation, since he had nothing to hide. He was eventually charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and he pleaded not guilty, knowing that he was innocent. Wright identified Holmes out of a lineup, but this was virtually the only evidence against him. The jury convicted Holmes, and since Holmes had two prior robbery convictions, the judge sentenced him to 400 years in prison. The judge chose this instead of a life sentence, because Holmes would have become eligible for parole after serving 25 years of a life sentence.
Johnson and Wright believed that the sentence was excessive, especially since they were unsure about his guilt. They eventually joined to fight to persuade the court to release Holmes from prison. Holmes eventually applied to have the Broward State Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit examine his case, and the state exonerated him as a result, since they determined that the methods that law enforcement used in asking Wright to identify Holmes did not yield sufficient evidence for a conviction. Holmes was released from prison in 2023, at age 57.
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