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A Black man sentenced to 400 years in prison for a 1988 armed robbery was exonerated and released from prison Monday in Broward County, Florida.

Sidney Holmes, 57, was released from prison in Broward County Monday after serving over 30 years of a 400-year prison sentence for an armed robbery in 1988.

Holmes was convicted of armed robbery in 1988 for allegedly being the getaway driver for two unidentified men who robbed a man and woman at gunpoint. The two men stole the male victim’s car, with Holmes allegedly being the driver.

“It’s surreal,” Holmes told WPLG as he walked out a free man. “I never would give up hope. I knew this day was going to come sooner or later and today is the day.”

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Holmes contacted the Broward State Attorney’s Office Conviction Review Unit in 2020 maintaining his innocence and asking for his case to be reviewed. The Conviction Review Unit worked with the Innocence Project of Florida and found Holmes had a plausible claim of innocence because of how he became a suspect and because of the questionable eyewitness identification that was used against him at trial.

Exonerated after three decades behind bars

Holmes was sentenced to 400 years in prison after being convicted of armed robbery in a jury trial.

“I can’t put it into words, it’s overwhelming,” he said. “I can’t have hate, I just have to keep moving.”

“We have one rule here at the Broward State Attorney’s Office – do the right thing, always. As prosecutors, our only agenda is to promote public safety in our community and to ensure that justice is served,” Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor said in a statement. “I commend the victims, witnesses, and law enforcement officers for their candor and assistance in reinvestigating a crime that occurred more than 34 years ago.”

The case is eerily similar to 35-year-old Sheldon Thomas, who was exonerated and released from prison after 19 years last week in Brooklyn. It came after the city’s Conviction Review Unit reviewed Thomas’ case and determined that Thomas was “denied due process at every stage.”

Mike Creef is a fighter for equality and justice for all. Growing up bi-racial (Jamaican-American) on the east coast allowed him to experience many different cultures and beliefs that helped give him a...