KANSAS CITY, Kansas — A man was freed after spending 17 years in jail for a purse snatching he didn’t commit when authorities found out he had a dead lookalike with the same name who may have been responsible for the crime.
The eerie coincidence landed Richard Jones behind bars in 1999 for a 19-year stretch for the Kansas robbery in which the only evidence pinning him to the crime was the victim identifying him as the thief.
At the time, prosecutors and the witness didn’t know there was another man out there who bore an uncanny resemblance to Jones, shared his first name and also lived near where the crime occurred, while Jones lived across the state line in Kansas City, Missouri.
But when Jones’ lawyers caught wind of the other man, they showed the witness the other man’s picture and he admitted he could not tell the two men apart.
Last week, a judge agreed and tossed Jones’ conviction out.
While there was no evidence that the other man committed the crime — he denied any role during a hearing before the judge — the bizarre situation poked holes in the sole bit of evidence against Jones.
The judge ruled that the photo array that was used by police to show the robbery victim was improper as it included no one else who remotely looked like Jones.
“Everybody has a doppelganger,” Jones lawyer, Alice Craig told the Kansas City Star. “Luckily we found his.”