A man who served more than three decades behind bars after being given a 400-year prison sentence for armed robbery was released on Monday after the state of Florida reinvestigated the case and exonerated him. “It’s surreal. I never would give up hope,” said Sidney Holmes, now 57, as he left the Broward County Jail. “I knew this day was going to come sooner or later, and today is the day.”

Holmes was arrested in 1988 for his alleged role as a getaway driver to two unidentified men who robbed a man and a woman at gunpoint outside a store, authorities said. A reinvestigation of the case by the State Attorney’s Conviction Review Unit “raised reasonable doubts about his guilt,” noting his conviction relied heavily on an eyewitness who likely misidentified him due to the “scientifically unreliable” photo and live lineup practices favored by law enforcement at the time, according to the state attorney’s office.

On Monday, Holmes hugged his mother, aunts, and other family members outside the jail, then said, “I can’t have hate. I just have to keep moving.”


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