Kansas dad wrongfully jailed 17 years for crime committed by lookalike granted $1.1 million in compensation
The actual culprit was found to be Ricky Amos, who not only shared Richard's light black skin tone and his signature cornrow hairstyle, but more crucially, also his name
An innocent dad who spent 17 years in prison for a crime committed by a doppelganger was granted $1.1 million in compensation by the state of Kansas. The 42-year-old, Richard Jones, was convicted and jailed for aggravated robbery in 1999 after eyewitness accounts affirmed he had stolen a phone from a woman outside a Walmart in Roeland Park, Kansas City, though he continued to insist on his innocence and appealed repeatedly for his release.
A series of incidents inside the Lansing Correctional Facility, where he was incarcerated, led Jones to believe he had a doppelganger who committed the crime. After enlisting the help of the Project for Innocence, they successfully tracked down the culprit, Ricky Amos, who not only shared his light black skin tone and his signature cornrow hairstyle but more crucially, also his name.
There had never been any physical, DNA, or fingerprint evidence to tie him to the crime. His conviction was based on the getaway car being traced to a man who said that he and his friends had picked up a man who they barely knew as "Rick" after the robbery, and eyewitnesses who picked him out from a police lineup because they were given no other option.
Jones had continued to insist throughout his imprisonment that, at the time of the robbery, he was at his home in Kansas City, cleaning up after a party with his girlfriend and her sisters. The discovery of Amos' existence saw his defense team present the doppelganger at a June 2017 hearing and when the witness and the victim could no longer tell who had attempted the robbery all those years ago, Johnson County District Judge Kevin Moriarty threw out Jones' conviction and ordered his release.
The years Jones had spent behind bars meant his two daughters, now 19 and 24, had grown up without him, and in a bid to get his life back on track, he filed a petition in the 10th Judicial District Court of Kansas looking for more than $1.1 million in compensation — close to $65,000 for each of the 17 years he ended up spending behind bars.
That compensation has now been granted, with the Daily Mail reporting that Jones became the first person to agree to a settlement payout under a new Kansas state law that seeks to provide compensation to those who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned.
Speaking about the case, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said, "We are committed to faithfully administering the new mistaken-conviction statute the legislature enacted. 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."
While filing the petition seeking the compensation, Jones' lawyer Richard Ainsworth said his client was also looking for a certificate of innocence. According to the Mail, Jones was granted the certificate of innocence as well and will also receive counseling and health care through the state for the next two years. The settlement, however, still requires final approval by a state council.