Richard Anthony Jones spent 18 years trying to persuade the judicial system that he was innocent. That they had the wrong man, that he didn’t commit the purse snatching aggravated assault during he was accused of. Throughout his time in penitentiary he kept hearing rumors about a man that was his doppelganger, his spitting image, but he never met the man. A criminal that spent almost two decades in prison will try and find any excuse to maintain his innocent façade. Only Jones was telling the truth, he really didn’t do it. Two years ago he learnt that his doppelganger may even share his first name with him. He decided to contact the Midwest Innocence Project and the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project at the University of Kansas.
It was 1999. There was no DNA residue, fingerprints or any other kind of physical evidence that linked Jones to the crime. It didn’t deter the prosecution from leveraging eyewitness testimonies as the key factor from convicting him. If eyewitness identification is widely recognized in legal circles as being unreliable – Jones’ case is probably one of the reasons why.
Witnesses who came forward were presented a photo lineup of suspects leaving Jones as the only light-skinned person. The second line up didn’t help Jones’ chances. Of the six suspects in the lineup, four had blue eyes. None of the witnesses described a blue eyed assailant, tilting the scales against Jones again.
The Midwest Innocence Project
After close to 16 years behind bars, Jones still claimed innocence and had faith in the judicial system and the Midwest Innocence Project and the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project at the University of Kansas. Two years ago, Jones contacted them pleading them to help overturn his sentence. The investigators found that Jones really had a doppelganger going under the name “Rickey” who was identical to Jones, they shared a first name and that Rickey lived close to the crime scene unlike Jones who lived across the border.
In December 2016 the Midwest Innocence Project and the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project, now sure that all the evidence pointed towards reasonable doubt, went to the courts asking the conviction be overturned. They had a doppelganger with the same name, in the right place at the right time.
Trial and release
During the trial that took place on 07.06.2017, Judge Kevin Moriarty listened to Rickey claiming he had nothing to do with the robbery, Jones presenting an alibi for his whereabouts on the fateful day almost 20 years ago, and the Midwest Innocence Project presented pictures of the two men. The similarity was uncanny. Witnesses to the crime testified that after looking at pictures of the two men they were no longer certain which one of them was the perpetrator.
In his ruling, Judge Moriarty didn’t accuse “Rickey” of committing the aggravated assault. On the other hand he did accept that based on the new evidence, no jury could have convicted Jones.
Jones’ attorney Alice Craig stated that her client was bitter and angry being in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, but after seeing his similarity to Rickey, he understands how the two could have been confused by eyewitnesses. “Everybody has a doppelganger,” Craig said. “Luckily we found his.”