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Ever felt like you've been accused of doing something you didn't do? A man in Kansas City was a victim of the most extreme version of this phenomenon, and has been released for a crime he says he didn't commit after serving almost 17 years in prison.
Richard Anthony Jones, who was serving time for a 1999 robbery that took place in Roeland Park, Kansas, was released from prison on Thursday in light of new evidence he may not have committed the crime.
After discovering there was a man in prison who looked just like him—and had the same first name—Jones reached out to lawyers who began reevaluating his case. "We were floored by how much they looked alike," said an attorney working on the case of the resemblance.
Though his lookalike denied committing the crime Jones was convicted of, a judge eventually ruled there was no way to credibly convict Jones. The original conviction rested entirely on the testimony of eyewitnesses, with no physical, DNA, or fingerprint evidence connecting Jones to the crime during the investigation.
During the original trial, Jones maintained an alibi that placed him alongside his girlfriend and members of his family on the day in question. The witnesses and the victim of the robbery testified in the new hearing that upon seeing how similar the two men looked, they were no longer sure enough to say Jones committed the robbery.
During the new hearing, Jones' lawyers used a copy of the "highly suggestive" original photo lineup to illustrate how they felt their client was targeted during the investigation. They claimed he was the only person in the lineup who resembled anything close to the described suspect.
Two long years passed between the time Jones gave lawyers the information and when his conviction was overturned, but the man who had repeatedly asserted his innocence found justice in the end.
Though his lawyers highlighted how bitter Jones was while serving time—pretty understandable, all things considered—they said he was understanding once he saw the resemblance to the other man. "Everybody has a doppelgänger," said an attorney on the case. "Luckily we found his."
Nothing can make up for the time he served for a crime he didn't commit, but a GoFundMe page was started in order to help Jones ease back into a life outside prison. You can donate to that effort here.