We often joke about the “evil twin defense” and have seen a few actual cases (here and here and here and here). However, I just came across a case from earlier this year where Richard Anthony Jones (left) had an apparent twin who was no relation but a dead ringer for the man. So similar that the Kansas man spent 17 years in prison for a 1999 robbery that he may not have committed.
Jones had heard from other prisoners that there was a guy in prison who looked just like him and even had the same first name. Jones actually had an alibi when charged in the 1999 aggravated robbery but his picture was selected from a police database and identified by victims and witnesses. Notably, four of the six suspects had blue eyes but none of the witnesses had described the assailant as having blue eyes.
He told his counsel who decided to look into the rumor and found the man. At a hearing in Johnson County District Court, witnesses, including the robbery victim, were shown the two pictures and could not tell them apart. They said that they could no longer say that Jones was the man at the robbery. Accordingly, Johnson County District Judge Kevin Moriarty ordered Jones’ release.
The other man also testified at the hearing and denied that he was the robber.
The extraordinary work shown in this case can be attributed to the Midwest Innocence Project and the Paul E. Wilson Defender Project at the University of Kansas.