Richard Anthony Jones from Kansas City, Kansas was having a rough time of things. He was 24 years old and just trying to make ends meet when he was approached at his home by a couple of police officers, and they had quite a story to tell him.
They told him that he was guilty of a crime at a local Walmart, a Walmart that he hadn’t been to or visited for weeks. But how could he possibly prove to them that he was innocent?
Richard Jones was minding his own business when he was picked up at his home and hauled in by the police. When they got him to the station, they informed him that he had been accused of mugging a woman in a Walmart parking lot. They also told him it was in his best interest to confess.
The year was 1999, and the woman who had been mugged had told police that she had a clear recollection of the man who had accosted her. They asked her if she could pick out the man’s face from a lineup, then showed her a police photo database full of men in the system. Eventually, she picked out Jones’ photo. “I’d never forget that face.” she said…
Despite the fact that Jones lived on the other side of Kansas, and the fact that there was no DNA, no fingerprints, nor any other sign of physical evidence linking him to the crime, the district attorney decided to prosecute him. Jones claimed that he was innocent, that they were making a huge mistake, but the authorities persisted.
Jones’s lawyers maintained that the police acted in a “highly suggestive” manner in their initial search for a suspect. They argued that Jones’ picture was the only one in the selected photo group that resembled the victim’s description of her attacker. Either way, the eyewitness accounts seemed enough to finish him…
Days in Prison
Though he proclaimed his innocence at every turn, Richard Anthony Jones was sentenced to serve 19 years in prison for the robbery. His relationship with his wife and children suffered as the struggle to come and see him became more and more real. Then, 17 years into his sentence, he received some interesting news.
An Innocent Man
While serving his time in prison, Jones began hearing rumors from the other prisoners concerning his appearance. According to some of them, he bore a striking resemblance to another known criminal. The other prisoner looked just like him and what’s more, he even shared his first name…
Pleading for Years
After years of pleading his case on his own, Jones contacted the Innocence Project, a group of individuals whose main interest is in aiding those who have been wrongfully accused. He told them of his theory, that there might be someone out there who looked like him, a criminal who was the real culprit.
Hard at Work
Meanwhile, Jones’s lawyers continued to investigate the theory on their own. It took them several months, but they finally located a man who looked very much like their client. In fact, even 17 years later he could pass as the same person. Now they just had to prove he’d done the crime…
“We were floored by how much they looked alike,” said Jones’s attorney Alice Craig upon seeing the other man. “Everybody has a doppelganger….Luckily, we found his.” Before they could involve the police and the courts, however, they’d need to do a bit more research on this identical fellow.
Jones’ doppelganger was a man named Ricky Amos. He used to live with his mother in Kansas City, Kansas, not far from the parking lot where the mugging took place. “When I saw that picture, it made sense to me,” said Jones, after receiving the information on Amos from his lawyers.
Appeals and Appeals
The appeals began again in earnest. This time, Jones’ lawyers had a case to stand on. There was reasonable doubt, a fair amount of it now, that Richard Jones could possibly have committed the crime, especially since eyewitness testimonies are what landed him in jail in the first place…
The legal team then contacted the victim from the robbery. They wanted her to look at photos of Jones and Ricky Amos side-by-side. In both photos, the men had braided hair and pencil-thin goatee. They both looked as much like the “Hispanic” or “Light-skinned Black Man” she had reported in her initial police report.
After a few minutes, even the victim agreed that she could not tell the two men apart. She was as unsure about her now 17-year-old testimony as the courts were. With her newfound revelation in tow, the lawyers took the case to the District Attorney’s Office….
“This has been one of the most bizarre scenarios that I’ve seen in my 27 years of prosecuting cases,” Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe admitted. He seemed more perturbed than most that they had sent an innocent man to jail for nearly two decades based on a simple coincidence.
At a subsequent hearing, Ricky Amos denied committing the crime and the prosecution truly couldn’t press charges against him without any evidence. As such, a judge determined that based on the new evidence, authorities no longer had enough information to support Jones’ conviction…
Free at Last
The next day, Jones was a free man. The judge was forced to declare that Jones’ conviction was unsound and was a regrettable and gross miscarriage of justice. No charges were brought against Ricky Amos, but police have vowed to keep an eye on him in the future.
Forgiveness All Around
Despite the “gross miscarriage of justice” that had been done to him, Jones doesn’t hold i against the penal system. In fact, even he was bowled away when he learned the truth. He just wanted to get back to his family and live a life that he believed would be lost forever…
“I Must Admit…”
The newly free man was understandably angry about his incarceration but admitted that even he couldn’t tell the difference between him and his doppelganger at first glance. “It’s an easy mistake to make…” he said. Jones was just happy to be with his children at long last. “When it comes to my kids, it’s been a rough ride, but they are now at an age where they can understand,” he said. But it wasn’t only his determination that gave him absolution, Jones also believes that there was something else at work…
Belief in God
After being released, Jones told the Kansas City Star that he doesn’t believe in luck or coincidence, he believes that he was blessed. He explained that his faith and his family are what kept him sane in prison and what drove him to keep trying to prove his innocence, no matter the setbacks.
Miscarriage of Justice
Sadly, situations like Richard Jones’ happen all the time. Thankfully, with the increasing availability of new crime scene investigation techniques, new evidence is being found all the time to absolve those who have been wrongly accused.