Man serving 400 years Prison sentence exonerated and freed after 34 years

Spread the love

A Florida man serving 400 years in prison for armed robbery walked out of jail Monday, March 13, after a judge vacated his sentence based on new findings that the case against him was deeply flawed.


Sidney Holmes, 57, spent more than 34 years behind bars for a 1988 carjacking near Fort Lauderdale.

In 2020, Holmes contacted the Broward State Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit to say he was factually innocent. That got the ball rolling.

Prosecutors now firmly believe he didn’t do it, citing a flawed focus on his vehicle, a witness identification process rife with bias and a solid alibi.

Log in to and enjoy the best E-journals, textbooks, and many more

To subscribe to Primsol, go to

For further enquiries/assistance, send an email to or call 08050298729

“The State Attorney’s Office would not charge him today based on these facts,” the Broward County prosecutor’s office said in a statement Monday. ‘

Man serving 400 years in jail is exonerated and freed after 34 years

After his release, Holmes hugged his mother outside the Broward County Main Jail.

“I never would give up hope,” Holmes told reporters. “I knew this day was going to come sooner or later, and today is the day.”

Broward County State Attorney Harold F. Pryor praised those who participated in reinvestigating the case and said in the statement, “We have one rule here at the Broward State Attorney’s Office — do the right thing, always.”

Holmes’ plight began in summer 1988 when a man spotted him behind the wheel of a brown 1970s-era Oldsmobile Cutlass in South Florida. Three weeks earlier, the man’s brother and a woman were robbed by people in a similar vehicle, according to the Conviction Review Unit’s final memo on the case, which was provided by county prosecutors.

Man serving 400 years in jail is exonerated and freed after 34 years

The man told his brother, the victim, about the car, and the victim told police. Police quickly zeroed in on Holmes, who had been convicted for his role as the driver in two armed robberies in 1984, according to the memo.

In the June 19, 1988, robbery, the victim said an Oldsmobile stopped behind his car outside a convenience store and two people approached and took it at gunpoint, the review said. A driver stayed behind the wheel of the suspects’ car, he said.

The carjacking victims both described the person behind the wheel as relatively short and heavy. Prosecutors later said the person was Holmes. But Holmes was 6 feet, 183 pounds at the time.

The vehicle, believed to be a 1970s Oldsmobile Cutlass, was described as having a hole where its trunk lock would have been, according to the memo. Holmes’ car had a trunk lock, it said.

The Oldsmobile Cutlass was often a bestseller in the U.S. from 1976 to 1983, a historian at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum told investigators reviewing the case.

The victim’s brother had been the target of a similar attempted robbery earlier in the day, he said, and the car was similar, the memo said.

Holmes had six people willing to testify he was at his parents’ South Florida home celebrating Father’s Day when the crime took place, the memo said.

The case’s reviewers, including the Conviction Review Unit, the Innocence Project of Florida and an independent review panel, also found fault with the witness identification process.

The victim did not identify a suspect after having viewed a book of 250 possible suspects and after having viewed a six-photo lineup that included Holmes, they said.

After that, the victim picked Holmes out of another photo lineup, pointed him out in a live lineup of suspects and pointed at him as the driver that day in court, according to the review. Holmes was the only person who was shown to the victim multiple times, it said.

A contemporary expert decried the process, saying it was tainted by Holmes’ repeated appearance, according to the review unit.

The woman in the car was unable to identify any suspects, the reviewers said.

There was not a foundation for Holmes’ prosecution, those involved in the reinvestigation and the review concluded. He cooperated with investigators because he had faith in his innocence, they said in the memo.

There is no evidence tying Holmes to the robbery,” the Broward State Attorney’s Office said in its statement.

Prosecutors asked for 825 years because Holmes had previous convictions for armed robbery and because he refused to name nonexistent co-conspirators, reviewers said.

The judge thought 825 years was excessive, so he went with 400, the memo said.

A sheriff’s deputy dispatched to the robbery, Kenneth Smith, said he barely remembered the case because there was so much crime at the time, according to the memo.

When he was informed of Holmes’ 400-year sentence, Smith said: “I’m in utter shock. He got that for this case?”

Last year, both victims told the unit they believed Holmes should be released from prison, the memo said.

Holmes said he is not holding a grudge against those who arrested him and prosecuted him.

“I can’t have hate,” Holmes said outside jail. “Just have to keep moving.”

Call Bridget Edokwe Esq on 08060798767 or send your email to

Price: ₦25,000.00 or £25 per copy [Hard Back– 10 chapters/637 pages] Contact Information Email:, WhatsApp only: 0803-703-5989 Voice Call – Mobile phones: 0817-630-8030, +234-909-965-1401, 0705-767-0347 Landline: 09-2913581, +234-9-2913499, Office Address: 50 Julius Nyerere Crescent, [Next To The World Bank], Asokoro, Abuja – Nigeria. Bank Account Details; Bank Name: UBA Plc.; Account Name: International Dispute Resolution Institute; Account Number: 1014072579

Get ‘Personal Property Law in Nigeria’ By Chief Mike A.A. Ozekhome, SAN (FREE)

Click below to download FREE

This topical new book engages fully the knotty areas of Lawyer/client, Lawyer/court and lawyer/lawyer relations.

Price: N7,000

Contact: 08036064470, 08183531785

CLICK HERE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK Call: 08038784639 to get a copy handy now @ N5,000. The book is also available at the Nigerian Law School Book Bookshop Lagos, call the number to pick your copy


BESTSELLER: Commercial and Economic Law in Nigeria By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN [ORDER NOW] To ORDER click the link

Price – N20,000 only To Order – WhatsApp, text or call – 08037009616 Office – No 1 Dyaji Close, Rayfield, Jos

Buy the Book on Military Law, authored by a Veteran Military Lawyer, and launched personally by the then COAS.


To get a copy kindly Call 07044444777, 07044444999 & 08181999888 or visit us at: Investment House, 7th Floor, 21/25 Broad St., Lagos. Buy online @

Available at Frank Agbedo & Co. Crown Chambers. 5th floor, left wing, Nipost Building, Lagos Island, Lagos State. Tel: 08033254471, 09077950432 Email:

Steps To Subscribe To the Court of Appeal Reports Nigeria

%d bloggers like this: