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Man Freed After 17 Years in Jail For Robbery Committed By His Doppleganger


During his nearly 17 year prison stint for a crime he vehemently denied committing, Richard Anthony Jones was repeatedly told by others that there was another prisoner who looked just like him. They even shared the same first name.

Jones never bumped into this alleged doppleganger, but he passed along the information to his lawyers who began investigating, eventually concluding that Jones was indeed innocent.

What Happened?

On Wednesday, June 8, Jones’ lawyers presented their case to a Johnson County judge. The next day, Jones was freed after nearly 17 years in jail for a 1999 robbery in Roeland Park.

Beyond bearing a striking resemblance to this other man with the same first name, Jones’ lawyers pointed out that the other man lived in the area of the crime where Jones lived across state lines in Kansas City.

At Wednesday’s hearing in Johnson County District Court, witnesses, including the robbery victim, testified that looking at pictures of the two men together, they could no longer say if Jones was the perpetrator. Based on that testimony and the new evidence, Johnson County District Judge Kevin Moriarty ordered Jones’ release.

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The judge would not go as far as to say the other man committed the robbery, but he did rule that no reasonable juror would have convicted Jones with the inclusion of this new evidence. The other man in question also testified at Wednesday’s hearing, though he denied any involvement in the robbery.
“We were floored by how much they looked alike,” Jones’ attorney Alice Craig said about seeing his picture alongside the picture of the other man known as “Ricky.”
About two years ago, Jones got in touch with the Midwest Innocence Project and the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project at the University of Kansas where Craig works. Their investigation revealed the proximity of the other man’s home to the robbery. There was no DNA, fingerprint or any other kind of physical evidence that linked Jones to the crime.

Last December, Craig filed the legal action that led to his release Thursday.

“Richard Jones has presented sufficient evidence to meet the under of manifest injustice (under Kansas law),” his attorneys said in their motion seeking his release. “Mr. Jones was convicted solely on eyewitness testimony that has been proven to be inherently flawed and unreliable.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Jones as he readjusts to life outside of prison.

Midwest Innocence Project

The Midwest Innocence Project (MIP) is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the investigation, litigation, and exoneration of wrongfully convicted men and women in our five-state region. Recent studies conservatively estimate that between 2% and 5% of all inmates in America are innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted, with some estimates reaching up to 7%. This means that somewhere between 2,000 and 7,000 moms, dads, sons, and daughters in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Arkansas are locked behind bars this very moment for crimes they did not commit.

After a conviction, it takes roughly seven to ten years for an innocent person to be exonerated, and the process is very expensive. As of May 2017, the 349 men and women across the country who have been exonerated through DNA served an average of 14 years in prison. The MIP staff, along with our Board of Directors, Advisory Board, Next Gen Board, and volunteers, works diligently to give freedom back to those whom the legal system has failed. Thanks to our partnerships with law schools at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and Columbia and the University of Kansas, our presence in the classroom gives us the opportunity to teach the next generation of lawyers and investigators how to identify and prevent these injustices.

The Midwest Innocence Project was founded a decade ago through the UMKC School of Law and is part of the national Innocence Network. In addition to our university partnerships, we also work in conjunction with the Nebraska Innocence Project, Innocence Project of Iowa, and Iowa Public Defender’s Wrongful Conviction Division. Read more about our partners here. We are based in Kansas City, Missouri.

  • COED Writer
    A New York native & proud couch potato who loves all things pop culture. I can usually be found writing, making videos and ranking all the warriors in "Game of Thrones" based on their fighting prowess.