In 1999, Richard Anthony Jones had been accused of committing a robbery in Roeland Park, Kansas. After eyewitnesses pointed to Jones as the perpetrator he was sentenced to serve a minimum of 19 years in prison. There was only one problem, he didn’t commit the crime.
While Jones had always maintained his innocence, it wouldn’t be until later that Jones would receive word that there was another man in the prison system who strongly resembled him and had lived near the scene of the robbery. Upon learning this information, Jones forwarded everything he knew to the Midwest Innocence Project, as well as the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project at the University of Kansas in 2015.
Using what information they could, they were able to track down Jones’ doppelgänger, who they believe had been responsible for the robbery that Jones had currently been serving time for. This information was enough for a defense team to appeal Jones’ case.
Witnesses from the original trial were called in to view side-by-side photos of Jones and the other man. Not only were the pair identical in skin color, hair style, and facial hair, but the pair shared other similar facial features and had even shared the same first name. Eyewitnesses were stunned by the similarities and said that it was nearly impossible for them to tell the two men apart.
After reviewing all of the evidence presented, a judge determined that it was impossible to say for certain that Jones had, beyond a reasonable doubt, committed the robbery based only on eyewitness testimony. No DNA, nor any other physical evidence was able to link Jones crime. After 17 years in prison for a crime he didn’t do, Jones is now a free man.
According to the attorney who represented Jones, Alice Craig, Jones was undeniably bitter about his wrongful conviction but after viewing the photo of the other possible suspect he realized how easily a witnessed could have mistaken the two men. Craig went on to say, “Everybody has a doppelganger. Luckily we found his.”
A volunteer has since set up a GoFundMe page on Jones’ behalf in order to help him get back on his feet.