Kansas has agreed to pay $1.1 million to 42-year-old Richard Anthony Jones who spent 17 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted of a robbery that he says was committed by someone who looks just like him.
This is the first lawsuit filed under the mistaken-conviction statute, which provides compensation to people who are wrongly imprisoned, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We are committed to faithfully administering the new mistaken-conviction statute the Legislature enacted,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement. “In this case, it was possible on the existing record to resolve all issues quickly, satisfy all of the statute’s requirements, and agree to this outcome so Mr. Jones can receive the benefits to which he is entitled by law because he was mistakenly convicted.”
Jones was released from prison last year. He was convicted in the 1999 robbery of a woman at a Kansas, Walmart store, CNN reported. Although Jones had an alibi, he was at a birthday party at the time of the robbery and was seen by a number of people, he was found guilty anyway. In a trial, witnesses and the victim reportedly identified Jones as the robber.
After spending many years in prison, other inmates pointed out to Jones that he looked a lot like another man, The Kansas City Star reported. After some research, Jones’ attorneys learned the other man, identified by CNN as Ricky Lee Amos, went by the same first name as Jones and had lived much closer to the Walmart where the crime occurred.
During a court hearing in June 2017, Jones’ attorneys showed witnesses, including the victim, mug shots of both Jones and Amos. When the victim could no longer definitively identify Jones as the robber, a judge overturned his conviction and ordered his release from prison.
Because the statute of limitations on the crime has passed, Amos cannot be prosecuted.
In addition to the $1.1 million, Jones was also reportedly granted a certificate of innocence.
Jones doesn’t have any ill will toward Amos, said attorney Alice Craig.
“I don’t think so, because it’s not Ricky’s fault that this happened, but ultimately he was the one we believe who was responsible for the crime,” Craig told CNN. “Ricky has never admitted to the crime and I think (Jones) … was somewhat disappointed that he didn’t admit to (it).”